Monday, June 18, 2012

#25 - The Sitka Music Festival

Just your typical Alaskan fishermen, right?  Not really.  Instead of a king salmon, musicians Tom Stone and Ethan Filner are way more comfortable holding and playing a 1700's era violin or viola. So how did these and other world class musicians end up fishing on the Wild Blue?

It started this past week with the Sitka Music Festival. The Festival ( has run for the past 40 years each June, and this year it's under direction of Zull Bailey, a terrific cellist we've seen perform in San Luis Obispo. Pat, a classical music fan, normally would be eager to attend these concerts, however she flew home. So between boat maintenance tasks, Alex began attending the weekend concerts, along with Patrick and Miriam of the Selene 55 Spirit. The concerts at Harrigan Centennial Hall, where the musicians perform in front of glass that overlooks the waters of Sitka Sound, were just spectacular. It is clear that these artists are among the best string players in the world!

Harrigan Centennial Hall overlooks the waters of Sitka Sound. 

In order to get the audience closer to the music and musicians, the Festival organizers schedule a mid-week concert at the Larkspur, a small waterfront pub-restaurant. The idea is to get the performers to interact and mingle with the attendees. With the high quality performances of the weekend, the house was packed and Patrick, Miriam and Alex were lucky to secure the last three seats 2 hours before the concert. As we dined on Ivory White Salmon and sipped a 1995 Justin Isosceles red blend, the Cypress String Quartet of San Francisco ( performed works by Dvorak and Glazunov. This Quartet has played together 6-hours a day, 6-days a week for the past 15 years! They play on instruments from the 1600's and 1700's, including a 1681 Stradivarius violin. It was just amazing sound being right up next to the musicians and their high performance instruments!

The Cypress String Quartet performing in a more formal setting.

Afterwards the performers and some of the audience hung around and enjoyed libations. Soon we began chatting up the musicians, asking how they liked Sitka, what sights they'd seen, and if they gone fishing. Before long Alex and Patrick invited all the musicians for a day of salmon fishing.

On Saturday, the Quartet members boarded Spirit for a morning of fishing.  The time table was tight as afternoon practice for the evening concert meant the fishermen (and fisher-women) needed to back by noon.  We arrived at the fishing spot by 9am after two hours, had two hookups but no "fish in the box".  The slightly disappointed crew left for practice, with the knowledge that their 1-day fishing license didn't expire until Sunday at 9am, and that they were invited back.  The evening concert, the finale for the Quartet and other musicians, was totally crazy amazing.  Afterward, the musicians said wanted to fish again in the morning.

At 5am, after a fine night of finale celebrations, seven sleepy-eyed musicians boarded Wild Blue for yet more fishing.  By 5:30am we were trolling on the north side of Long Island, just 3 miles from Sitka.  Within 30 minutes we had "fish on", a nice king salmon, but just 1/2 inch too short to keep.  Within 15 minutes Tom landed his 14-pound king and 20 minutes later Ethan reeled in another king salmon keeper.  The group had caught their 1-day limit.  It was fun morning visiting and fishing with the Cypress Quartet and musical friends.

Left, violinist Cecily Ward of the Cypress Quartet looks like your typical Alaskan fisher-woman.  Violist Kirsten Docter of the Cavani String Quartet knows better.

Cellist Ben Docter and Violist Ethan Filner trade fishing secrets.  

Jennifer DeGolia, Board Chairman for the Cypress Quartet, and violinist Tom Stone practice a new dance, the Salmon Shuffle.  Shortly thereafter Tom landed a nice King.

The Wild Blue Musical Fishing Team: Patrick and Miriam Gill, Tom Stone, Ben Docter, Jennifer Kloetzel, Kirsten Docter, Cecily Ward, Ethan Filner, Jennifer DeGolia, Alex Benson.

No comments:

Post a Comment