Queen Anne couple tuned in to period music - Gallery Concerts moves into the neighborhood this week

University of Washington music-history professor, pianist and Queen Anne resident George Bozarth is a stickler for detail.

That's why the co-founder and co-artistic director of Gallery Concerts prefers to use replicas or originals of the all-wood pianos on which 19th- and 18th-century music was played in its own time, and on which he and a stable of musicians have performed since 1989.

The sound is better, explains Tamara Friedman, Bozarth's wife and a fellow pianist who sometimes performs in the Gallery Concert series. "They're just not as brassy and bright as modern instruments," she said.

Friedman and Bozarth should know. They have five period pianos, a clavichord and a modern piano in the crowded living room of their Queen Anne home. They use the period instruments for the concerts, too, but they have to be tuned the day of the concerts, Friedman said.

Replicas or originals of other period instruments are also used in the concerts, which makes the acoustics of the performance venues an important factor. "The first few seasons, we were in art galleries in Pioneer Square," Bozarth said of himself and co-founder Jillon Stoppels Dupree, a freelance harpsichordist who is also co-artistic director.

"But we outgrew the galleries, and some of our favorite ones disappeared," he added. That development led to staging their concerts for a while at the Mt. Baker Community Center and in various churches around Seattle.

Then the group hooked up with the Seattle Town Hall and was involved with planning before the venue even opened, Bozarth said. "We do each concert twice," he added. One is at the Town Hall, and the other had been at the Kirkland Performance Hall.

But there was a problem with the Eastside location; the audience just wasn't there, he said. "We would have needed a whole team on the ground," he said of drawing large enough crowds.

That wasn't possible for the nonprofit organization, so Gallery Concerts recently dropped the Kirkland venue and will instead perform in the Queen Anne Christian Church at 1316 Third Ave. W., Bozarth said.

Gallery Concerts in Seattle typically draw a couple hundred audience members, and there's a reason for that, he said. "There's a huge amount of classical-music interest here in Seattle."

Part of the attraction has to do with the instruments used in the concerts. "A lot of people, you know, it's the first time they've seen these instruments," Bozarth said. "It's like having music with the color turned on for the first time."

Of course, musicians who know their chops are important to the success of Gallery Concerts, which have received rave reviews in the past. "Our idea is to use top Northwest musicians and invite top performers from elsewhere to join us," he said.

Bozarth downplays his own qualifications in that area and praises those of his wife, who teaches piano privately and to students at Shoreline Community College. "I'm a scholar who performs; she's a performer ... who's also a very deep thinker," Bozarth smiled.

"What I like to do is accompany singers," he said. Having period instruments backing up singers is a plus because Gallery Concerts aren't amplified and the period instruments are not as loud as modern ones, Bozarth explained.

He also lectures about the instruments between selections, giving the concerts what Bozarth described as an informal atmosphere. But Bozarth is a busy academician and will perform in only one of the five concerts for the 2005-06 season. "I'm working on trying to get a couple of books published," he explained.

Friedman will perform in two of the concerts, but neither she nor her husband is involved in the first concert, "Mostly Ghostly Baroque." It includes Tartini's "Devil's Trill Sonata," along with Vivaldi's "Nightmare Concerto," and is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Town Hall and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Queen Anne Christian Church.

Audience members are invited to wear Halloween costumes if they'd like. That's not such a farfetched idea. "People come to the concerts in period costumes," Bozarth said.

Cost for the five-concert series is $106 for general admission, $85 for seniors, $50 for students and nothing for children. Tickets for individual shows range from $25 to $10 and, again, nothing for kids.

Call 726-6088 or contact www.galleryconcerts.org to order tickets.[[In-content Ad]]