Concerts in the Barn Return

by Bev Rothenborg

To say that I am thrilled about the return of concerts to Trillium Woods Farm in Quilcene would be a huge understatement! Actually, I am “over the moon”! The picnics and concerts have been an exciting part of my summers for thirty years until that nasty pandemic halted everything.

The barn and grounds.
Photo by Brian Jennings

But first a history of the Farm—most of it gleaned from their website. The original owners of the property were the Iseri family, Japanese Americans who built the farmhouse and barn. They raised cows and grew berries, and for decades provided dairy products and produce to local residents. When the U.S. entered World War II that all changed. The Iseri family was sent to an internment camp and were unable to regain ownership of the property after the war. Instead, the farm passed from one owner to the next.

At age 21, Alan Iglitzin became the Assistant Solo Viola with the Minneapolis Symphony under Anton Dorati. While there, he also was a member of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and in 1960 he became the Principal Viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. It was here that he met the original members of the Philadelphia String Quartet, which in 1966 accepted a job with the University of Washington where they stayed until 1988, when funding stopped.

In 1976 Alan toured the Olympic Peninsula to view a property that was for sale. He had often performed at Centrum in Port Townsend and had fallen in love with the area. Now the string players were thinking of finding a summer home where they could rehearse and maybe give a few informal concerts. As Alan recalls, everyone in the quartet wanted a break from concert tours in Europe every summer.

 Alan was shown the former Iseri property which was now in a very rundown condition. The farmhouse had bats’ nests, birds’ nests, and rats’ nests. The barn was filled with manure, broken concrete, and old machinery. Blackberries covered the farm, and the milking shed was leaning over. The only heating system was a trash burner. It clearly would be a project to fix it up—but the natural acoustics were wonderful. The task was worth every step!

Enjoying the concert.
Submitted photo

But in 1979 disaster struck when a quarter mile section of the Hood Canal Bridge sank in a massive windstorm. Alan knew that his venture would fail unless the bridge was restored for easier travel from Seattle, so he delayed opening the farm for concerts. After the bridge was reopened, Iglitzin opened the barn doors for music in July of 1984.

One day, Alan received a phone call from a woman who said that she was married to one of the Iseri family members. She had heard that someone was “doing nice things” to the old homestead and asked to bring her husband to the farm to see firsthand what Alan had accomplished. She and her husband Isamu (Sam) arrived at the farm bearing gifts. “It touched me deeply because I wanted to do something nice for them. I truly had this bad feeling about owning the farm on the pain of that family many years ago,” said Alan. He would learn that Sam—who helped his father build the barn—was born in 1914 in the room that served as Alan’s office.

Iglitzin showed the family around, and a relationship began to develop. They became good friends and when Sam died, the Iseri family asked Alan to speak at his funeral. “I spoke of the beauty of the farm and the opportunity to create a music festival that helped erase the bad memories of what happened to Sam and his family.” The Iseris continued to visit the farm regularly. To see pictures of the family, go to concertsinthebarn.org.

In 1999, a group of friends and I inaugurated an annual event which we named Port Ludlow Day at the Barn. The staff would set up reserved tables for our picnic lunches, and we were able to purchase tickets at a group rate. The first year there were 60 of us who took the opportunity to share a fabulous picnic and a wonderful concert. The tradition continued for several more delightful years!

Today the farm is beautifully maintained. Lush country gardens stretch between the many outbuildings. The barn stands proudly as a venue for chamber music. And, thanks to the Jefferson Land Trust, good things will continue to happen at the farm.  “The barn and area where people can enjoy the farm will always be used for concerts and cultural events, and our contract with the Land Trust stipulates that. It is a dream come true,” says owner Leigh Hearon. Leigh has taken over many of the management tasks from husband, Alan.

Piano quartet.
Submitted photo

The musicians have been engaged and the concerts will begin in July with the following schedule:  Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18 – The Carpe Diem String Quartet. These musicians are long-time favorites at the Barn; Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25 – Carpe Diem returns; Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and August 1 – Trio Hava with the Barston sisters and Jessica Choe will perform; Saturday, August 7 -an afternoon with violin virtuoso Charles Wetherbee; Sunday, August 15 – the Takacs Quartet; Sunday, August 22 – Music on the Strait with hometown favorite James Garlick; Saturday and Sunday, August 28 and 29 – Fulton Street Chamber Players.

Carpe Diem.
Photo by Brian Jennings

Grounds open at 11 am, barn doors open at 1 pm, and the music begins at 2 pm. Guests preferring to listen to the concert out-of-doors are able to enjoy the music which is broadcast from loudspeakers. Reservations for free tickets may be made at http://brownpapertickets.com/. Before and after the concerts a favorite activity is strolling the grounds and the flower gardens. If you need more information or have questions, please contact me at bevrothenborg@plvoice.org.