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Classical music in classic Oregon settings - Oregon music festivals

Summer festivals in Jacksonville, Newport, St. Benedict

In summer, music festivals dot the Oregon countryside like poppies. In fact, classical music lovers could spend much of the summer crisscrossing the state in pursuit of pleasure. Three festivals in particular have settings as soothing as the music they present. You can listen to Ravel under the stars in the Rogue River Valley, enjoy Claude Debussy by the seashore, or savor J. S. Bach in a monastery overlooking the Willamette Valley.

Jacksonville. Britt Festivals, June 16 through September 3. If you plan to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland this summer, consider a musical detour to nearby Jacksonville. The 33-year-old festival is held in gardens that once belonged to Peter Britt, a pioneer photographer and plantsman. Concertgoers can spread blankets or set up lawn chairs on a wooded hillside.

Jazz, pop, musical theater, dance, and classical music fill the evenings from mid-June through Labor Day. The Classical Festival runs August 4 through 21, with such artists as rising violin star Pamela Frank, pianist Jeffrey Kahane, and Nexus, an adventurous percussion ensemble. Tickets for the Classical Festival range from $14 to $20, $4 to $7 ages 12 and under. For schedule information, call Britt Festivals at (800) 8827488. For lodging, try the historic Jacksonville Inn (rates run $80 to $125; call 800/321-9344).

Newport. Ernest Bloch Music Festival, July 10 through 16. Outside the Newport Performing Arts Center, windsurfers flutter over the waves like seabirds. Inside, the elegant strains of Debussy fill the hall. The festival is named for Ernest Bloch, Oregon's most esteemed composer, who died in 1959. The festival reflects his love of fine music with an eclectic mix of orchestral and chamber music.

This year's playbill offers works by Debussy and Mozart, plus some Bloch on each program. Tickets cost $8 to $12. For a schedule, call (503) 265-2787. The Sylvia Beach Hotel (503/265-5428) is a popular place to stay. Rates are $63 to $135, including breakfast.

St. Benedict. Abbey Bach Festival, July 26, 27, and 28. For almost 25 years, the Benedictine monks at Mount Angel Abbey have been presenting good music and simple meals the last week in July. Each evening begins with sacred chants by the monks in a vespers service in the abbey, followed by a brief concert of works by Bach and others performed by a small ensemble or a soloist. Then everyone moves outside for a picnic supper of sausage, salad, bread, fruit, and wine served by friendly monks. A second concert at 8 P.M. in Damian Center features chamber music.

Tickets cost $25, including supper. Concerts sell out early; if you can't get a ticket this summer, put your name on the mailing list for next year by writing to the Abbey Bach Festival, St. Benedict, OR 97373, or call (503) 845-3321. Bed-and-breakfast inns and motels are in nearby Silverton and Woodburn.

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