For two frenetic weeks in July, Kuhmo in Eastern Finland is host to a chamber music festival attracting thousands of music lovers. In that fortnight, this town of 8,000 inhabitants echoes to the sound of music against a backcloth of a lake that almost laps the walls of the concert halls in the clear, unbelievable northern light.
Ottawa Chamberfest has been sharing music since 1994. What began as an annual summer festival has grown over the years to include a popular concert series and a wealth of community engagement and education programming.
In 1975 the Pennsylvania Chautauqua’s Summer Program Director asked new Mt. Gretna resident, physician/flutist Carl Ellenberger, to organize two concerts in the Mt. Gretna “Hall of Philosophy.” Ellenberger invited old friends from Interlochen and Eastman to visit and play chamber music. They had so much fun that the next summer he organized 4 concerts in the Playhouse. A Hershey Medical colleague, introduced Ellenberger to the Audubon Quartet, then in residence at Marywood College in Scranton and looking for a summer home. They came to Gretna in 1977 with friends and joined Ellenberger and his friends. Also that year Ellenberger heard The New Black Eagle Jazz Band on NPR and learned that his Yale Medical School friend, Eli Newberger, was their tuba player so he invited them to come from Boston. People flooded into the Playhouse to hear the music and continued to come year after year.