Organizers hopeful for 2022 return
By Natalie Johnson
The decision to cancel the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the second year in a row was “sad, but inevitable,” Executive Director Liz Johnson said this week.
“By mid-March we have to be able to commit to musicians booking them to come in,” said Johnson, who with her husband, Howard, hosts the event at their Signal Hill Ranch. “We had decided we only wanted to do that once we could operate at full capacity and when the mask mandate was lifted.”
For more than 20 years, the Chamber Music Festival has been bringing high-caliber musicians to the Methow to perform what Johnson described as intimate events, full of hugs between friends, close proximity between musicians and spectator and shared meals. Wearing masks and having to stay distant from each other just wouldn’t work, she said.
Artists also typically fly in from all over the country and stay in locals’ homes, she said. With vaccinations still not available to everyone, that could present a risk to spreading COVID-19.
The nonprofit’s board voted at its March meeting to cancel the June 2021 event, but the organization is hopeful for the future, Johnson said. The festival is in good financial shape and the board is already looking forward to 2022.
The nonprofit doesn’t plan to ask for grants or donations this year, and has enough funds to get by until the 2022 season, Johnson said. The board and volunteer staff have committed to sticking around for the 2022 event.
“For us the message is an upbeat one – we were ready to go this year unfortunately but that didn’t happen,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to fret about it. … We absolutely are looking forward to 2022.”
The nonprofit has good reason to be hopeful, Johnson said. After missing the 2020 season, fans of the festival started calling in January to inquire about the 2021 season. And this isn’t the first year the festival has had to cancel. In 2014, they were forced to cancel due to wildfire danger.
“We came back from that and response to that was tremendous,” she said.
For more information about the Chamber Music Festival, go to methowmusicfestival.org.