One of the first classical festivals of the summer is upon us: the latest edition of the Bellingham Music Festival, which began over the long weekend. This summer’s audience will hear from guest artists including pianist George Li, violinist Benjamin Beilman, guitarist Pepe Romero, the Calidore String Quartet, and pianist Marc-André Hamelin, who is making the music of Brahms his festival assignment.
With a population of just under 100,000, Bellingham, like the festival, boasts a cheerful small-city atmosphere. Its one major drawback for casual visitors is an extremely frustrating street grid — a mishmash created when four smaller Victorian-era centres merged at the turn of the last century. Fortunately, Western Washington University, festival ground zero, is just off the I5, parking is plentiful, and the views from the campus across Bellingham Bay to the North Shore mountains alone are worth the trip.