Poncho Gives Out Latest Arts Grants

It's the best year in Poncho's history: $2,106,382 raised for the arts, announced at the recent annual meeting of the venerable organization (whose name stands for Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations). Since its founding in 1962, Poncho has distributed more than $23 million to 152 Northwest arts organizations.

The most recent recipients of Poncho grants, in a second round of 1999 funding, will receive $666,000 in funds earmarked for special projects, arts education, event presentation and related purposes. Included in the new grants are some special arts-education grants, including a one-time Seattle Symphony Orchestra grant of $65,000, to underwrite the orchestra's Arts in Education program. This program was funded until this year by the Washington State Arts Commission, and it allows area 5th-graders to participate in an educational program that culminates at a Benaroya Hall concert.

Poncho also gave $52,000 to Seattle Public Schools, to support 50 in-school touring performances and matching funds for 15 artists in residence. Those programs also had been supported by the Washington State Arts Commission. In honor of John Stanford, the late school superintendent, Poncho also has made grants of $2,500 each (designated as John Stanford Awards of Excellence in the Arts) to four outstanding music programs: Garfield, Roosevelt and Kentridge high schools, and Washington Middle School.

The long list of additional new Poncho grants includes a full spectrum of recipients, from theater companies and orchestras to art museums, schools, arts centers, youth organizations and festivals.

Festivals heat up

Summer music festivals are now packing the classical calendar for the next two months, with the Olympic Music Festival already under way (this past weekend through Sept. 12). That highly popular "Concerts in the Barn" series offers 2 p.m. programs every Saturday and Sunday in the festival's idyllic site, a turn-of-the-century dairy farm near Quilcene on the Olympic Peninsula (just west of the Hood Canal Bridge). Various amenities from picnicking and catering to friendly farm animals make this one especially fun for families; programming includes Mozart, Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, a Beethoven Piano Festival and the ultra-popular Bridge Festival (featured in the final two concerts). Call 206-527-8839 for ticket and travel details.

The Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival has moved to July, with the Turtle Island String Quartet topping the guest list for the roster (opening July 2 with jazz sax by Don Lanphere), through Aug. 1. Performances will include the Kairos Quartet's programs, July 10 and 11; the world premiere of Maria Newman's film score for the 1910 silent "What the Daisy Said," July 17-18; a vocal/chamber program with singers Mary Phillips and Philip Cutlip July 24-25; and a "collage" staged finale on July 31-Aug. 1. Information is available at 206-624-8389 or 800-277-8389.

The venerable Seattle Chamber Music Festival is already running low on tickets for many of the July 5-30 concerts, which offer recitals at 7 p.m. and concerts at 8 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday of that period - along with favorite artists such as Jon Kimura Parker (who has his own festival; see below), Ani Kavafian, Scott Yoo, William Preucil, Jody Schwarz and Craig Sheppard. A July 17 recital will feature 14-year-old violinist Shunsuke Sato, who wowed the Seattle Symphony audiences last month. For details, call 206-283-8808).

The 1999 Marrowstone Music Festival, at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend (Aug. 1-22), will feature three youth-orchestra performances on Sundays at 2 p.m., free guest-artist faculty chamber concerts at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, and 2 p.m. ticketed chamber performances featuring the faculty members each Saturday. Among those faculty members: Glen Dicterow, New York Philharmonic concertmaster; Alex Klein, principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony; Dale Clevenger, principal horn of the Chicago Symphony; Seattle Symphony trumpeter Charles Butler; and the Cleveland Institute's cellist, Richard Aaron. For details, call 206-362-2300.

The hot newcomer on the block, the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, sold out its inaugural season last year and is back for concerts Sept. 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the tiny but lovely Orcas Center (360-376-2281). Co-directors are pianist Jon Kimura Parker and his wife, violist Aloysia Friedmann, and they'll both play - along with Toby Saks, William and Gwen Preucil, and several others, in programs including Bach's Brandenburgs, Schubert's "Trout" and Parker's own "Pan Dreams."

Free tours of Benaroya

Still haven't seen the new Benaroya Hall? Free summer tours will get you inside each Thursday (1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.) and Friday (11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.), plus the first Saturday of each month (July 3 and Aug. 7, at 10 and 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m.). Meet the tour guides at the south end of the Boeing Company Gallery, which runs along Third Avenue from Union to University streets. Group tours should be arranged seven days in advance by calling Jessica Austin at 206-215-4856.

Civic Opera winners

The Seattle Civic Opera Association's recent 30th annual auditions honored soprano Fumi Takiguchi with first place; soprano Holly Johnson took second, and third place went to baritone Keith Harris. The Helen Jensen Inspiration Award went to Julian Altschul, a tenor. The adjudicators were Ella Lee, Wanda Weiskopf and Jack Vander Laan.