The enduring legacy of the Bellingham Music Club


Keep the rhythm

The enduring legacy of the Bellingham Music Club

To listen

What: Rastrelli Cello Quartet presents “From Brahms to the Beatles”


7:30 p.m. Sat. 30 Oct.

Or: Auditorium Syre, 237 W. Kellogg Rd.


Please wear masks and be prepared to show proof of vaccination

Cost: $ 30 ($ 10 for students aged 12 to 18 with ID)


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

If there is anything that the members of the Bellingham Music Club have learned in the many decades since their first meeting on February 22, 1916 with the New England Conservatory-trained pianist, Mrs. CX Larrabee, it is that adaptation is the key to their survival.

When Larrabee founded the BMC with her fellow violinist and renowned conductor Ms. Mary Davenport-Engberg – who had also founded the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra six years earlier – it was with the belief that making music works as a great unifier and nourishes the soul. Members of the new women’s club auditioned to be part of her popular performances, which also raised funds to give to outstanding student musicians at Western Normal School (now Western Washington University). Thanks to the financial boost, many of these young performers continued to earn a living by making music.

In the years that followed, the world would change and evolve, as was the Bellingham Music Club. In 1988, for example, then-president Ethel Crook opened membership to men, invited local artists and WWU professors to perform at the meetings, and expanded the student rewards program of the club with competitions for piano, voice and orchestral instruments.

By 2000, additional programs had been added to the club’s roster, including a number of separate competitions for high school and college students in Whatcom County. Fourteen years later, BMC’s mission had broadened to include free morning concerts featuring award-winning students as well as professional musicians, and “Night Beat” performances open to the public, from solo recitals to percussion, in passing through string ensembles and original cabaret shows. .

When these shows and performances were forced to take a hiatus due to the pandemic in April 2020, it didn’t take long for Bellingham Music Club president Charli Daniels to reach out to the more than 250 BMC members. with words of hope for the future. In the club’s next newsletter, she noted that she had phoned the Spring Contest winners to get their addresses to send in the awards, and the appreciation they expressed for hosting the events in the first place validated the BMC’s mission to encourage and inspire the younger generation of musicians to keep the art form alive.

“Soon we’ll be together again,” Daniels wrote. “For the past 104 years, the Bellingham Music Club has supported Bellingham through previous pandemics, including the ‘Spanish Flu’ in 1918. We are always here for you and the musicians in our great community.”

Although it takes another 18 months before the BMC will host live music again, Daniels’ prediction was correct. Last September, Cayley Schmid and Clea Johnson performed a Celtic music-themed program on stage. The club also hosted a free concert with renowned oboist Bhavani Kotha and pianist Rebecca Manalac on the morning of October 8 at Trinity Lutheran Church, and presented a longer program that evening for the long-awaited return of “Night Beat “.

Bellingham Music Club is always evolving. Current president Isabelle Cormier notes that, thanks to the feedback they have received from club members and loyal donors, events will now be held on Fridays and Saturdays (instead of Wednesdays), providing “more opportunities to applaud. , to encourage and to be moved. together. What remains the same: Most ‘Night Beat’ performances are affordably priced at $ 20, and you can still bring a teenager for free.

Before the club’s regular schedule continues with an evening concert featuring violinist Grant Donnellan on Friday November 5, BMC will host the famous Rastrelli Cello Quartet (pictured) for a performance on Saturday October 30 at the Syre Auditorium at College Whatcom community. Tickets will be a bit more expensive, but they promise it will be worth it.

“From Brahms to the Beatles” will see Russian-born virtuoso musicians spanning everything from Russian folk tunes to the Beatles songbook, works by Grieg, Brahms and Piazzolla, as well as film scores by Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer and Henry Mancini. This is the quartet’s only engagement on the West Coast and promises to make a magical evening of live music, something the Bellingham Music Club has provided to the community for 105+ years.

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