The Festival

The Uncommon Music Festival is an annual chamber music festival in Sitka, Alaska that promotes an inclusive, accessible, and community-oriented vision of classical music. Our core ensemble features an SATB quartet, a guitarist / lutenist, and an organist / pianist. Every summer, we offer one week of free musical events, from workshops to concerts to walks in the woods.

Our vision

Our vision of classical music is inclusive, accessible, and community-oriented. That means we….

make room for diversity: too often, we miss out on wonderful music by women and people of color simply because it’s not what we know. That’s why we included over 50% works by women composers and over 30% works by composers of color in our 2018 season, and why we are committed to maintaining that standard in all future seasons. Learn more about our music.

welcome everyone: our programming has always been free and open to the public, and our events come in all shapes and sizes: short, long, public, intimate, indoors, outdoors... We’re eager to share what we love about music, so whether you want to talk and ask questions or just sit back and enjoy, we have just the thing for you. Learn more about our events.

engage with the Sitka community: our community partnerships are at the heart of the Festival. We have created events with organizations such as the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Sitka Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s by-the-Sea, and Sitka Sacred Harp. Our partners help us connect with Sitkans of all stripes, and we are proud to support the work they do. Learn more about our partners

Uncommon music for an uncommon place

We are dedicated to performing unusual, overlooked, or otherwise uncommon repertoire from the Middle Ages to the present day, and we strive to present that repertoire in uncommon ways. The Festival invites you into the music-making process with open rehearsals and workshops, combines music with poetry, takes music into the great outdoors, and so much more! We love talking about our pieces and the stories behind them, and we love getting to know you, our audience members.

We also love being in Sitka. This small Southeast Alaskan community located on Baranof Island has an incredibly rich cultural life in addition to stunning natural beauty. No matter what brings you to Sitka - hiking, fishing, sightseeing, music, or something else - the experience will stay with you for the rest of your life. We are so grateful for the friends we have made there, and we are constantly looking for ways to create and perform music that resonates with Sitka. Learn more about our music, our commissions, or watch our music video tribute to the Sitkan landscape.

Our story

Our relationship with Sitka began when musical director Nate Barnett composed and premiered a piece as part of the Sitka Fellows Program in 2015. Nate founded the Festival with managing director Ariadne Lih in 2016. Three seasons later - thanks to incredible artists, partners, sponsors, and audience members - the Festival has grown more than they could have imagined.

The first Festival was built around a concert series hosted by St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. 2017 was our first season as ensemble-in-residence with the Sitka Arts and Science Festival; we also organized our first commission and composer competition and held signature events such as Nature Music for the first time. In 2018, we received Chamber Music America’s competitive Residency Partnership Grant, and our third season featured eleven different events with five different community partners. The fourth Uncommon Music Festival promises more diverse, welcoming, and community-based programming, along with some exciting new projects and collaborations. Join us from July 31 to August 4, 2019!