Whidbey Island Music Festival celebrates the coming seasons

— Created December 6, 2023 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

The Whidbey Island Music Festival knows how to put the “festive” in holiday festivities.

The festival is pleased to present A Celtic Christmas with the Beggar Boys this weekend. Sunday’s concert is already sold out, but as of this writing, there were still tickets left for Saturday’s show, taking place from 3 to 5 p.m. at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church, 5217 S Honeymoon Bay Rd., Freeland. Tickets and information are available online at whidbeyislandmusicfestival.org.

Photo Courtesy of Whidbey Island Music Festival
Enjoy the sounds of a Celtic Christmas with the Beggar Boys, courtesy of Whidbey Island Music Festival. There are still tickets available to Saturday’s concert, which will be held at 3 p.m. at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church in Freeland.

“This concert weaves together traditional Irish and Scottish music, Irish step dancing and dramatic storytelling into a beautiful and festive tapestry,” described WIMF founder Tekla Cunningham. “The Beggar Boys have been playing together for 23 years and bring a camaraderie and deep friendship to their performances that results in shows that are both thrilling and touching.”

Cunningham said the Beggar Boys combine music from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The group features the voice of Abigail Lennox, storytelling by Larry Young and traditional Irish step dancing.

“This magical, festive experience transcends time and borders,” Cunningham said. “It’s a perfect family holiday treat, bringing the magic of Celtic heritage to the heart of the Pacific Northwest.”

This is not the first time the Whidbey Island Music Festival, known for its classical summer concerts, has featured something for the holidays.

“During the pandemic we did a digital Christmas concert,” explained Cunningham. “The Celtic Christmas has proved to be a very popular event!

“At this time of year, there are few things better than gathering together to experience the joy of holiday music,” she continued. “There’s a phenomenon called collective effervescence – the uplifting, connecting joy that we feel when experiencing live performance together with other people. It’s a great way to ‘fill your tank’ as we enter the busy holiday season.” 

Providing more opportunities to share musical events like the Beggar Boys is something Cunningham said WIFM has been doing to accommodate a rising demand from Whidbey audiences.

“The festival has been expanding the number of performances we are presenting on Whidbey,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of requests for more concerts on the north end, so we are busily working on that.”

Whidbey Island Music Festival has a full calendar of concerts for 2024. Here’s what is already on the schedule for the spring, with more north Whidbey locations and dates in the works:

Baroqu-en Hearts: Music for Valentine’s Day
3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4
St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods
This musical tribute is all about love – love gone right, love gone wrong, love gone mad and love just plain gone! Featuring soprano Danielle Reutter-Harrah, violinist Tekla Cunningham, cellist Adaiha MacAdam-Somer and harpsichordist Henry Lebedinsky performing music by Purcell, Handel, Strozzi and more.

The Deer’s Cry: Songs of the Celtic Saints
3 p.m. Saturday, March 16
St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods
Traditional Irish music, both mystical and jovial, will be featured. This family-friendly concert will feature vocalist Natalie Ingrisano, fiddler Brandon Vance and guitarist/keyboardist Henry Lebedinsky.

Northern Exposure: Musical treasures from the frozen North
3 p.m. Sunday, April 14
St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods
Not to be outdone by Italian musicians, composers and performers in northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden and England used that Italian influence and developed their own distinct sound and style. Join baroque violinist Tekla Cunningham, Tess Roberts on viola de gamba and harpsichordist Henry Lebedinsky as they perform compositions by Buxtenhude, Westhoff, Sidon, Butler and Roman. This program will also introduce WIMF’s Young Artist Program and will feature high school student Rylie Patching on baroque bassoon.

Lift Every Voice: A Celebration of Black Voices in Art Song
3 p.m. Sunday, May 5
St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods
Celebrate the musical contributions of Black composers Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Harry T. Burleigh and Moses Hogan with soprano Michele Kennedy and pianist Henry Lebedinsky, who will bring this collection of Spirituals, art songs and solo piano works to life.

Find information and check for new locations and concerts online at whidbeyislandmusicfestival.org.