- Published on Wednesday, 28 May 2014
- Written by Allison Hovanec
If you’re traveling through southcentral Alaska in the month of June, don’t miss one of Alaska’s best-kept secrets: the Sitka Summer Music Festival.
For more than 40 years, the festival features a month of internationally acclaimed classical musicians performing daily on the small island town, only accessible by air and sea. Evening events are performed at Harrigan Centennial Hall, renowned for its breathtaking view of Sitka Sound and its assortment of small, tree-covered islands dotting its water, snow-capped mountains, and an occasional bald eagle swooping down from the sky.
In 2010 cellist Armen Ksajikian garnered national attention for playing his cello to Alaska brown bears in Sitka during the festival. An Anchorage Daily News article describes the impromptu bear concert: He began with some snippets of Bach and a little tuning and improvisation, mimicking birds and such.
"They didn't seem to notice," he said. So he switched to the lowest notes, using his bottom C as a drone and making growly augmented and diminshed chords. "THAT got their attention," he said. One bruin climbed to the top of a tall stump, balancing on one foot stretching towards the cellist and opening its mouth "as if trying to communicate" before getting nervous and backing off.
The garden party kick-off event begins at 6:00pm on Saturday, May 31st. A mix of traditional concerts, outdoor concerts, films, pre-concert talks, picnics, and even a cruise are scheduled daily though June 29th. Several festival events are free, and ticket prices are modest for nearly all of the concerts where admission is charged. For more information, or to purchase tickets for the Sitka Summer Music Festival click here.