Working with Stephen Colburn, a part-time resident of Washington Island and retired principal oboist for the Milwaukee Symphony, and his wife, Marlee Sabo, Voice Department Chair, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the Washington Island Art and Nature Center (ANC) initiated a program in 1991 to provide classical music performance, education and appreciation opportunities and experiences for the Washington Island community.
The Music Festival Activities have included sponsoring a summer music festival which has brought 12-16 musicians to Washington Island for each of the last 22 years from distinguished musical organizations, including the Milwaukee, Manitowoc, and Colorado Symphonies, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Initially these summer concerts were presented for a week at various venues on the Island. In 1996 the summer festival was expanded to two weeks.
Island talent was recruited for the integration of an Island Festival Chorus of 15-30 voices into the Music Festival Activities. Question and answer periods were added, led by Samantha George, violinist and Associate Professor of Music at Lawrence University. During the second week, a children’s music camp is conducted by summer resident and music educator, Kari Gordon.
Perhaps the most growth has been in the “Music in the School” program at the Washington Island School under the direction Donna Briesemeister, as successor to Dan Hansen who is now retired. Website: www.washingtonislandmusicfestival.com