It began as the best things often do, over food and wine - barbecued shrimp and white wine to be exact.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful," someone asked, "if we could have a summer festival of chamber music right in Madeira Park?" One person present was pianist Alexander Tselyakov who had just performed a spectacular concert in the Performance Centre.
He agreed to serve as music director if such an event could be organized.
The Board of Pender Harbour Music Society, which has its own concert series as well as serving as an umbrella organization for the wildly successful Jazz Festival going into its ninth season this September, was asked for its blessing which it happily gave.
The weekend of Aug. 19 to 21 sounded perfect, allowing for concerts on the Friday and Saturday evenings with a Sunday afternoon finale to wrap up the event.
A committee was formed in late spring of 2004 and the hard work of building a festival was begun.
Support was needed, both within the community and from further afield, so a prospectus describing the project along with letters from musicians, politicians, business owners and interested citizens was created and was sent to potential donors.
Musicians were contacted and tentative contracts were negotiated with three of Canada's finest chamber players - Alexander Tseylakov, Oleg Pokhanovski and Paul Marleyn. A logo was created by the artist member of the committee. Applications were laboured over and sent to charitable foundations, arts councils, businesses and corporations as well as individuals with an interest in music and community initiatives.
Months passed. Letters and prospectuses went out in the mail. Support arrived weekly in the form of donations and encouragement.
In late November, we all raised a glass of champagne and decided the festival would go ahead. In fact, we were brave enough to decide to invite two more outstanding musicians, Andrew Dawes and Yariv Aloni, to extend the repertoire. The program for the concerts was decided with lots of diverse musical offerings.
There's even going to be a free concert on the afternoon of Saturday. Aug. 20, offering a sampling of selections from the ticketed concerts, to prove that chamber music doesn't bite.
In the next few months, a marketing plan was drafted. Initial publicity material was created and sent to venues needing lead time. A brochure and posters were designed and four work bees saw six pairs of banners painted with the logo. They'll hang from the splendid new standards in Madeira Park. And a stage was constructed to highlight the lovely Knabe piano. Flowers and good acoustics will help make the venue sensational.
Why not join us for the first Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival, Aug. 19 to 21, and help us celebrate what we predict will become an annual event.