Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chamber music concerts at the Washington State Governor’s Mansion

Since 1989, the Governor’s mansion in Olympia has been the focal point of the Governor’s Chamber Music Festival. This is a chamber music series that offers three chamber music concerts every year at several venues, one of which is the Governor’s mansion.

Judith Cohen, an award-winning pianist from Seattle, Washington, is the director of the Governor’s Chamber Music Festival, which is a non-profit group with a small budget of around $15,000.

“We do our own fundraising, get donations, and apply for grants,” says Cohen. “Because it is state property, we can’t take money at the door. We have an invitation list and get the money beforehand. The concerts can’t have the appearance of collecting money for the state.”

The Washington State Governor’s mansion is not a ceremonial home. Governor Gregoire does live there and does attend the concerts unless she is out of town. According to Cohen each performance draws an audience of 125 people.

There’s a concert coming up this Monday evening (January 28th) at the Governor’s mansion. The concert features Judith Cohen, an award-winning professional pianist from Seattle and Jackson Berkey (the keyboard artist with Mannheim Steamroller). They are playing the Northwest premiere of Berkey’s piece for two pianos and wind chimes.

“It’s a fun piece,” remarks Cohen “There’s a lot of piano sonority in the piece. The wind chimes bring some meditative and reflective quality into the piece, which is about 20 minutes long.”

They will also perform Berkey’s Elegy for Cello and Piano with Seattle Symphony cellist and Kronos Quartet founder Walter Grey.

“Jackson Berkey has a second home on the Olympic Peninsula,” notes Cohen. “He went to Julliard and is a trained pianist. I met Jackson because my youngest stepdaughter was in the Seattle Girlschoir and one of his kids one in it also. He wrote some stunning pieces for that group. He found out that I am a pianist, and we’ve kept in touch. I’m really looking forward to the concert.”

Maybe this is a concert series that should be done in Oregon as well! Mahonia Hall in Salem has a ballroom on the third floor and a pipe organ. It would be great to get our best musicians in Govenor Kulongoski home. Politics and Music!

Monday, January 28th, 2008, 6-8 PM,Governor's Mansion, Olympia, Washington. Music of Jackson Berkey. For more information, call 206-281-8292.

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