Thinking outside the Bach

Posted on June 22, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Outdoor concerts in unexpected venues, world-class musicians and emerging talents, and a family-friendly concert where kids can touch the instruments highlight the 8th annual Valley of the Moon Festival.

July 16-31, it’s the only Classical music festival in the United States played on instruments built and in use when the music was composed. 

This year’s theme: Fantastic Universe: Music of the Natural World. The nine-program festival is a timely celebration of the natural world, explains Tanya Tomkins, VMMF founder and co-director. 

“Throughout the chaos of the past two years, we’ve found ourselves seeking out time in nature, both as a safe space to gather with others and to reconnect with ourselves,” Tomkins said. “It’s why we were moved to select the natural world as this year’s festival theme. Nature has been a great refuge, source of inspiration, and gathering place for centuries, so it felt deeply appropriate to use this year’s festival as a celebration and moment to honor Mother Nature.”

In addition to VMMF’s usual format of performances at the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium, it unveils the Music Alfresco series, with outdoor chamber concerts at Sugarloaf State Park (July 19) and Buena Vista Winery (July 26). 

The free family concert is a short matinee on July 30 at the Sonoma Community Center; the afternoon includes arts and crafts, and a meet-the-musicians session and ‘instrument petting zoo.’

A unique creative signature of the festival is the use of period instruments, a rarity even in Europe. For example the string players use gut strings rather than modern steel, and the pianos are ornate, with a delicate, deep sound. The authentic experience sheds entirely new and fresh light on the music. 

The season’s musical theme is put into historical and cultural perspective with the Blattner Lecture Series, which welcomes a variety of dynamic speakers.

For more information or to purchase tickets for this season’s festival, visit 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA