Blog courtesy of Philip Hansen, Principal Cello. Photo credit: Quadra Island Festival of Chamber Music Facebook page.

The longer days of summer are a time for a few good reads, movies we may have missed, a taste of the outdoors. As someone who hails from the Pacific region, when summer finally hits, I head back to those vast waters. The sensation of being so utterly tiny at the lip of the ocean evokes inward reflection. Somehow one’s own personal pages are turned by the breeze. The sight of whales reminds me of depths yet to explore – musical and otherwise.

Quadra Island, BC, just off Campbell River, is where I have the extreme good fortune of manifesting musical dreams every third week of July. A chance trip to the island in 2010 and ensuing conversation with an owner of the Heriot Bay Inn resulted in our first season a year later. Now approaching our fourth season, we have an enthusiastic and hard-working board, donor events, and paid musicians from around the globe at what has become the Quadra Island Festival of Chamber Music.

It is a tricky and at once joyful task to program the music for our concerts. The concerts must have a certain flow and variety to please both audience and musicians.

The additional challenge I have reaped as Artistic Director is that during the last two seasons, we play Baroque music on original Baroque-style instruments and bows – with the exception this summer of award-winning young pianist Carter Johnson performing a solo recital of music from many eras.

Playing on gut strings with (the very light) Baroque bows is a sensation like no other for string players, especially those of us originally trained in the modern tradition of steel strings and heavier, modern bows. One cannot overwork a gut string; it must be cajoled and truly allowed to speak. The lighter bow shapes our phrase perhaps to an original truth of the music from that time- we otherwise only know from the treatises we read from that time, and the rest is wonderful conjecture and practice.

Our programs this year encompass a French concert utilizing a fairly stylized way of Baroque playing, to a Celtic program replete with Scottish reels and the music of O’Carolan, to a program of musician favourites, and of course the concert with Carter Johnson.

Because of the sheer enthusiasm of our “Quadrites” – as the island residents are called – we are fortunate enough to play in a variety of venues. These include the rustic Southend Farm and Vineyards as well as the intimate, breathtaking Gowlland Harbour Resort. Our concerts are catered to the hilt with gourmet food included in the ticket price. Understandably, our concerts are often sellouts.

I cannot wait to start rehearsals with my colleagues, who are a joy to work with and from whom I still learn so much. Please read about us and the entire festival at!