David Palmer, Chamber Music Amarillo's executive and artistic director, founded the Quartz Mountain Music Festival at Lone Wolf at Quartz Mountain Resort Arts and Conference Center, a new annual event destined to bring national recognition to Southwest Oklahoma and the entire region.
His father, Michael Palmer, a 40-year music professional, will conduct the Quartz Mountain Music Festival Chamber Players, comprised of professional artists from across the nation, at 8 p.m. July 29 in Quartz Mountain's Robert M. Kerr Performing Arts Center at Twin Peaks. A jazz evening will be featured at 6 p.m. July 28 when the Quartz Mountain Music Festival presents the Bevan Manson Trio from Los Angeles.
Advance-purchase tickets sell for $30 for both Friday and Saturday concerts or $20 for one evening only. Box-office tickets sell for $25 per seat at each performance. To purchase advance tickets by credit card or for more information, call 580-649-7596. QMMF board members and the Altus Chamber of Commerce will also sell tickets. To reserve a guest room at Quartz Mountain Resort, call 877-999-5567.
David Palmer, a talented young musician with administrative experience in developing arts organizations, grew up in a family quite familiar with establishing large music festivals. Born in Atlanta, Ga., he spent his early years in Wichita, Kan., and at the family's summer home in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, Wash. After graduating in piano performance at Rice University in Houston, he took lessons at Julliard School of Music in New York City and moved to Amarillo, Texas, in 1997 when his wife received an invitation to play violin in Amarillo's endowed Harrington String Quartet.
With the assistance of a board of directors, David Palmer in 1999 founded Chamber Music Amarillo and recently finished the group's eighth successful season with nine concerts. In 2003, the board became interested in establishing a summer music festival in one of the region's small towns. After exploring Canadian, Texas, and other sites, Palmer discovered Quartz Mountain.
“The first time I saw it--three and a half years ago in January, my father just happened to be visiting me on what turned out to be a cold, gray day in Southwest Oklahoma. When we drove over the first rise and saw the lake, my breath was taken away,” David Palmer said. “Then, we saw the twin peaks and the concert hall. I looked at my father and said, 'This is already gone; there is no chance that we might have an opportunity to develop something here; but lo and behold, it had not yet been discovered.
“When I toured the lodge and concert hall, I realized that this was much bigger than what Chamber Music Amarillo could bring to the table. We could do concerts in that hall and it would be successful, but it cried out for so much more than just chamber music.”
Plans include performances by professionals during the first two festivals and within five to 10 years an annual three-week July festival with five institutes-orchestra, string quartet, vocal and choral arts, guitar and jazz-for talented pre-professional college students on the verge of entering their music careers. The finest regional and national musicians and internationally renowned guest artists will comprise the faculty and present public performances.
Michael Palmer, director of orchestras at the Georgia State University School of Music in Atlanta since 2004, began his career at age 21, when Robert Shaw invited him to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as assistant conductor; soon thereafter he became associate conductor and also founded the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. The National Endowment for the Arts chose Palmer as one of the nation's first five Exxon Arts Endowment Conductors, and he was soon in demand by orchestras throughout the country, including Houston Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Symphony Orchestra.
After 10 years in Atlanta, Michael Palmer spent 13 years as music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and later became music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. In 1991, he founded the American Sinfonietta and toured Europe for 10 seasons. In 1993, Palmer and his wife originated the internationally recognized Bellingham Festival of Music at Bellingham, Wash., where he returns annually as conductor. In 1995, the Palmers also began the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Appalachian Mountains.
The program selected for the 2006 QMMF reflects the world's celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Michael Palmer sees no substitute for hearing the world's great music repertoire performed live by extremely fine musicians on a high level. “In our modern technological age where it is possible to buy CDs and listen at home to a very high-end sound system reproduce a performance, we lose track of the magical elements of a live performance--being there as an audience member, participating in a once-in-a-lifetime event that is not reproducible,” he said. “It's the difference between going to the Louvre and standing in front of the Mona Lisa and going into Wal-Mart and buying a print to hang on one's wall.”
Many people think that appreciating or understanding classical music requires study and music education. “None of that is true,” said Michael Palmer. “Classical music speaks directly to the heart. Beethoven said, ‘From the soul to the soul.' As any other art form, what it means is what it means to you.”
The Quartz Mountain Music Festival gives people accustomed to Country Western music an opportunity to branch out and experience a different music style. “If you think about celebrating Mozart's 250th birthday, you know there must be something to this music, because it lasts for centuries,” Michael Palmer said. “We're not playing music that's going to be in fashion for just a few years but great works of art, great expressions of Western civilization; and you don't have to go to Paris, London or New York to experience it; it will be right here at Quartz Mountain, performed in this gorgeous and beautiful setting.”