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Chamber Music on the Mountain returns to Camas

17th concert series to bring renowned musicians to Livingston Mountain

The Crystal Chamber Music Hall on Livingston Mountain is made from cedar for a better sound and can hold 65 guests. (Photo courtesy of Peter Christ)

Oboist Peter Christ lives on Livingston Mountain, about 8 miles north of Camas.

Peter Christ (right) will host the 17th annual Chamber Music on the Mountain classical music concert series this month. The first concert, on Sept. 14, features flutist Sheridon Stokes (left).

He’s been bringing celebrated classical musicians to Camas for nearly two decades, but this year’s 17th annual Chamber Music on the Mountain concert series, which comes to Livingston Mountain for live performances on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21, will be bittersweet for Peter Christ.

“This will be the first year I’m not able to play with them,” explains the 81-year-old Christ, himself a professional oboist who has played in orchestras and chambers throughout the country since the early 1960s and studied for six years with Bert Gassman, former principal oboist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “So, yes, it’s bittersweet.”

Arthritis in his hands and fingers will keep Christ from playing in this year’s Chamber Music on the Mountain concerts, but it won’t keep him from enjoying the music.

The two concerts are free and open to the public, but seats fill up fast, so Christ urges people to RSVP as soon as possible, to get a seat or at least get onto the waitlist.

Both concerts will be held at Christ’s Livingston Mountain home, located about 8 miles north of downtown Camas, in his Crystal Chamber Music Hall — a cedar-walled space built especially for intimate chamber music gatherings — but advance reservations are required to get the exact address.

The first concert begins at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, and features Sheridon Stokes on the flute, Annie Harkey-Power on the cello and Colleen Adent on the piano and harpsichord.

Stokes, a former flute professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is a good friend of Christ’s and has performed at the Chamber Music on the Mountain concert series before.

“He’s one of the best,” Christ said of Stokes. “He’s possibly the most recorded flutist in the Hollywood studios.”

According to Stokes’ website, the flutist has worked on hundreds of television and movie scores, including “ET,” “Jaws,” “Men in Black,” “Titanic,” “Spaceballs,” “The Color Purple,” “Godfather II,” “Family Guy,” “Roots,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Columbo,” and “M*A*S*H.”

The flutist also has performed on several well-known albums, including Frank Sinatra’s “All Alone,” Barbra Streisand’s “Love is the Answer,” Kenny Rogers’ “Timepiece,” Christina Aguilera’s “My Kind of Christmas,” and Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable: With Love.”

Christ said Harkey-Power is one of the “best-known local cellists” and that he’s thrilled she agreed to perform at the concert series again. The same for Adent, who Christ describes as “a marvelous pianist.”

The second concert will start at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, and features John Holt on the trumpet and Adent on the piano.

“John Holt is coming specifically for this concert,” Christ said. “It’s going to be wonderful.”

Described by Gramophone magazine as an “elegant, sensitive artist” who “plays with perfect technique and intonation, altering his sound deftly to suit the works,” Holt comes to the Chamber Music on the Mountain concert from his home in Texas, where he is the principal trumpet with the Dallas Opera Orchestra and a trumpet professor at the University of North Texas.

Holt also has performed with several orchestras nationally and internationally and is the former principal trumpet of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Florentino in Florence, Italy.

Holt also is one of the musicians who has released several CDs with Christ’s Crystal Records label.

Christ has devoted the majority of his life to classical music. His record label has produced more than 600 classical music recordings, including 300 titles on vinyl and another roughly 300 titles on CD.

A 2007 article in Fanfare magazine described Christ’s record company, which he runs from the second floor of his home, as “one of those unique and specialized labels that, for several decades, has been issuing a compendious catalog of works, both chamber and orchestral, featuring outstanding soloists, primarily but not exclusively players of wind and brass instruments … (and) filling important gaps in the recorded repertoire that no other label comes close to matching.”

When Christ, formerly of Los Angeles and then of northern Washington State, and his wife, Linda Felver, a nursing professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, decided to build their home on Livingston Mountain in the mid-1990s, the couple knew they needed to include a space devoted solely to chamber music.

In the couple’s home, which offers outstanding views of Mount Hood, the Crystal Chamber Music Hall takes up most of the first floor.

“I’ve played in a lot of auditoriums and I knew I wanted to base the dimensions (of the music hall) on some of my favorites,” Christ said. “I also knew that soft wood, like cedar, really helps the sound.”

What Christ didn’t know was which kind of carpets might help with his acoustics. His remedy?

“I went around to the carpet companies with my oboe and played into the carpet to hear how it sounded,” Christ said, laughing before admitting he also did the same thing when he searched for underlayment (the material that goes under the actual carpet).

The result, however, is a warm, cedar-scented room with a capacity for 65 audience members where Christ hosts his annual Chamber Music on the Mountain concerts.

To reserve a seat at one or both of the upcoming concerts, call Crystal Records at 360-834-7022 or email staff@crystalre cords.com. As the concerts are held in a small, quiet space, Christ has requested no children younger than 8 attend.

For more information about Christ’s Crystal Records recording label, visit crystalrecords.com/.