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Erik Peterson

Erik Peterson of the Chintimini Music Festival pauses for a photo at Coffee Culture's Kings Boulevard location on Tuesday

afternoon. (Amanda Cowan | The E)

The calendar helped to inspire this year’s theme for the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, which kicks off its two-week mid-valley run with a concert Friday night.

Here’s how Erik Peterson, Chintimini’s founder and artistic director, explains it:

As he was setting the dates for this year’s festival — the 14th go-round for the Corvallis chamber music extravaganza — someone noticed that the festival’s final concert, scheduled for Wednesday, July 2, fell close to Independence Day. It’s the first time that the festival’s concerts have extended into July.

That observation coalesced with a number of other ideas Peterson was kicking around. And so, this year’s festival is based loosely around the theme of “1776 — An Era and a Nation.” The idea, as he explained in an interview with The E, is to explore music created around the time when the United States was formed — in addition to offering a musical panoply of other patriotic works, all within the chamber music format.

With that said, Peterson has cast his usual wide and eclectic musical net. This year’s festival runs the gamut from a Shostakovich octet to a night dominated by violinists and fiddlers Rebecca Lomnicky and Tatiana Hargreaves to a work purportedly written by Benjamin Franklin.

Yes, that Benjamin Franklin.

Also included in this year’s festival is a world premiere by composer Karim Al-Zand of Rice University, three concerts intended for children and five evening concerts featuring musicians with deep ties to the mid-valley.

Lomnicky and Hargreaves, who perform on Tuesday in the Whiteside Theatre in downtown Corvallis — the third year a Chintimini concert has been staged at the Whiteside — are excellent examples.

Both Lomnicky and Hargreaves arguably are better-known for their work as fiddlers — but, Peterson points out, both are veterans of Charles Creighton’s tenure with the Corvallis Youth Symphony and both have formidable classical chops as well. They’ll use those skills to perform Bach’s well-known Concerto in D minor for Two Violins — the so-called “Double Concerto.”

Then, after intermission, they’ll perform authentic fiddle music from Scotland to the United States.

It’s exactly the kind of musical brew that Peterson is trying to create within each concert — but his ambitions go beyond that.

He’s also hoping to create connections between each of the festival’s concerts, so that listeners who attend more than one performance get a sense for the threads binding them together. As he works with the different pieces — trying a composition on one concert, and then perhaps moving it to a different performance, “You start to get this sense that they’re going to fit well together.”

As for the Benjamin Franklin piece on the July 2 program, it’s an oddball string quartet — three violins and a cello — that uses open strings throughout: In other words, the performers don’t use left-hand fingering, only their bows. “People don’t really know if he wrote it or not,” Peterson said, “but it seems like he could have.”

And the rarely performed Franklin piece adds another dish to the Chintimini banquet.

The ingredients in each festival change from year to year, but Peterson’s overall goal does not: “My main goal always is to expand the audience, to bring them into this music of the world that I enjoy so much.”

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