Sunriver Music Festival schedule

Concerts start at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

CLASSICAL CONCERT I — Saturday; tickets $37-$70, $10 youth; Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

CLASSICAL CONCERT II — Wednesday; tickets $25-$60, $10 youth; Bend Church of the Nazarene, 1270 NE 27th Ave., Bend

POPS CONCERT — Aug. 18; $25-$50, $10 youth; Bend Church of the Nazarene, 1270 NE 27th Ave., Bend

CLASSICAL CONCERT III — Aug. 20: tickets $37-$70, $10 youth; Sunriver Resort Great Hall, 17600 Center Drive. Bach’s Triple Concerto featuring flute, violin and harpsichord; Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds in D Minor, Op. 44; and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major

PIANO RECITAL — Aug. 21; tickets $37-$66, $10 youth Sunriver Resort Great Hall, 17600 Center Drive. Sean Chen performs.

FAMILY CONCERT — 4 p.m. Aug. 22; tickets $10, free youth; Sunriver Resort Great Hall, 17600 Center Drive. One-hour family concert in the Great Hall.

CLASSICAL CONCERT IV — Aug. 23: tickets $37-$70, $10 youth; Sunriver Resort Great Hall, 17600 Center Drive; Opens with Ligeti’s Concert Romanesc; Sean Chen performs in Grieg’s famed piano concerto; SRMF’s “Schumann Cycle” continues with his Symphony No. 3.

Tickets available at or 541-593-9310.

Contact: or 541-593-1084

Like so many eclipse chasers, classical music lovers have long had August 2017 blocked out on their calendars, albeit for reasons more sonorous than solar. The 40th anniversary season of the Sunriver Music Festival starts Saturday in Bend. While it may not have the magnitude of a full solar eclipse, the annual classical music series casts a large shadow over Central Oregon. Since its inaugural season, which saw four concerts in Sunriver Resort Great Hall, the festival has steadily expanded to include an annual evening of pops and other concerts in Bend, a family concert, solo recitals and more.

“We’re very excited,” said Maestro George Hanson. “It’s quite an achievement for an arts organization to be in business 40 consecutive years. That is a credit to the people who started it and who have sustained it over all these years.”

Under the baton of Hanson, in his sixth full year, the festival has fostered relationships with other area institutions such as Central Oregon Mastersingers, and nurtured bonds with talent from beyond the state, including internationally acclaimed pianist Sean Chen, who marks his third visit in four years with three performances.

Classical Concert I

Rocker-turned-composer C.F. Kip Winger, whose “Granted Passage” composition saw its world premiere at the 2015 festival, will make his second appearance, at Classical Concert I Saturday at the Tower Theatre in Bend.

Winger “has become a friend of the festivals,” Maestro Hanson said. Winger, a former bass player for Alice Cooper, scored some hair metal-era hits in the late 1980s with his own band, named Winger, “which is still out there playing gigs. … They just have a blast. They all look like they’re 24 again,” Hanson said. “Then there’s his more acoustic show that he does, where sometimes it’s as small as just him, a one-man show with a 12-string in his hands, and then there’s this extraordinary talent he has. He just committed himself to learning how to compose classically, and how to orchestrate, and he’s become a wonderful composer.”

Audiences will hear Winger’s “Parting Grace” as part of the Classical Concert I program — which Hanson said is fitting given the passing of some of several of the festival’s longtime supporters this year.

“This work, ‘Parting Grace’ is an acknowledgment of the passing of some of our dear friends,” Maestro Hanson said. “Kip has had this piece recorded, but it’s never been performed live. … It’s stunning. It’s got beautiful violin solo and cello solo — kind of a duet, really.”

The Concert I program boasts a couple of other highlights, Hanson said. “One is (concertmaster) Steven Moeckel is such a phenomenal violinist, and we have him playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The other aspect was we’re taking from the very first Sunriver Music Festival Program, where they played Mozart’s Linz Symphony (No. 36 in C Major). … I’m sure that people who remember that first concert will hopefully be transported back.”

More concerts

Classical Concert II, on Wednesday, features the Central Oregon Mastersingers, four vocal soloists, and pianist Chen in his first of three concerts this year. (The others being the solo Piano Recital on Aug. 21 and Classical Concert IV on Aug. 23.) Hanson describes the pianist, who won third prize at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, as artist in residence for the festival.

Audience members will hear Beethoven’s monumental Choral Fantasy and Mozart’s Requiem during the concert. It, too, will be held in Bend, at a venue that’s new to the festival: Church of the Nazarene, on the recommendation of Mastersingers founder Clyde Thompson, who is stepping down from the podium after this concert.

The Festival Orchestra will perform a special version of Requiem, known as the Levin version.

“It’s an edited version that’s as close as anyone has been able to come to discerning Mozart’s otherwise uncompleted intentions, because of course he died while he was writing it,” Hanson explained.

And as much as he’s concentrating on this landmark year, Hanson has his eye on the future, too. That will be evident at the festival’s third event, the Pops Concert, on Aug. 18 at Church of the Nazarene.

That evening’s audience will hear “Make Our Garden Grow,” “one of the most beautiful musical moments he ever composed,” Hanson said. “It’s the finale to his sort of opera, ‘Candide.’”

Hanson was a protege of Bernstein’s, to whom he served as assistant for seven years.

“We’ve got exciting plans for next year. We’re going to celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. We’re going to tip our hand, a little bit, at the pops concert,” Hanson said. (See sidebar for the rest of the concert schedule.)


Summer is always a busy time of year in Sunriver, and SRMF executive director Pam Beezley is prepared for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. That morning, Harry Hamilton, a professor of atmospheric physics who retired to Sunriver in 2006, will give the “STELLAR Solar Seminar” from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Great Hall.

“We’re going to issue all the solar glasses with our little music festival logo on there,” Beezley said. “We’ll step outside on the Mount Bachelor lawn out of the Great Hall, and we’ll all watch the eclipse. … And then, they can bring the glasses to the concert that evening and get $5 off.”

“On any given day in Sunriver, we’re always hovering between 16,000 and 20,000,” Beezley said. “There’s people everywhere, so … we’re not looking for everybody to drive to us.”

However, statistics from last year showed that 44 percent of last year’s attendance were Bend residents.

Another 28 percent were Central Oregon visitors, Beezley said. “The Sunriver resident component is reducing a bit, but that makes sense, because it’s following the trends of the growth of Bend,” Beezley said. “It is interesting — even though it is the Sunriver Music Festival, the majority of our patrons are (from) Bend.”

And 25 percent of total audience members in attendance last year were attending the festival for the first time, “which is exactly what we strive to do each year,” Beezley said.