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Centrum is planning virtual concerts, lessons




PORT TOWNSEND – The brave new world of Centrum features 20 cameras, 10 rooms, the BoxCaster streaming system and hundreds of artists eager to connect.

General Manager Robert Birman has announced that open registrations for the 2021 music, writing and youth workshops season will go live this spring and summer. To register, go to

After nearly five decades of live events at Fort Worden State Park, Centrum will feature many types of traditional music, writers in multiple genres, and a pair of youth workshops, all virtually.

Public concerts and readings are also on the horizon, with more to be announced in the coming weeks, Birman said.

Musicians across the continent “were just happy that we were still here,” said Gregg Miller, program director for Jazz Port Townsend and the International Choro Workshop.

“We all learn to do something worth doing,” he added.

“We still have the same level of teachers who are quite remarkable” and ready to teach masterclasses, sessions on special topics and live performances.

The prices are significantly lower than in previous years. Participants will not pay for accommodation and food, Birman noted, so tuition is as low as $ 100 for a student under 21 in the Acoustic Blues workshop.

Centrum, meanwhile, is looking to invest $ 364,000 in a technology system to broadcast lessons and performances from multiple sites on the Fort Worden campus.

Half of that will come from a grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, Burmese hopes. He will find out on February 24 whether Centrum has won this award.

If that doesn’t materialize, he says, Centrum has a number of other grants to secure.

Burmese also noted that BoxCaster, a system used by universities and live performance venues, is Centrum’s choice – not Zoom. The new system will not only stream workshops live, but also record lessons to be taken later. This year’s participants will therefore not have to choose one over the other.

“You could actually attend each class for the very first time,” he says.

Peter McCracken, seasoned programmer for Fiddle Tunes, Ukulele, and Voice Works events, hopes to send film crews to traditional musicians from North Carolina, Texas, and New Mexico.

The idea is still cooking, he said, but McCracken is considering continuous visits to the kitchens of tradition bearers, for example, to spend quality time with people who won’t be traveling anywhere. near Port Townsend this year.

As for the dances that are part of the Acoustic Blues and Fiddle Tunes gatherings at the fort, “we don’t yet know how we’re going to pull that off,” Birman said.

He added that Voice Works and the Ukulele Workshop are scheduled for fall, when there is a better chance of hosting in-person events safely.

Much of this relies on the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

With the onset of the pandemic a year ago, Centrum laid off 40% of its workforce, Birman said, and all teaching artists were fired until 2021.

“Last summer in July, when it was jazz week, I realized what I missed most: people of all ages interacting with their musical heroes,” Miller said.

He thinks it’s still possible online.

The 2021 season kicks off with youth programs and continues with music and writing workshops led by the art directors Centrum has employed for many years.

Programming follows. You can find more information on scholarships, teaching artists and timetables at

Youth programs

• Explorations Online, March 1-5: A complete learning environment with music, visual arts and writing for grades 7-9, registration required by February 24, tuition $ 65 with scholarships available.

• Water World Online, April 26-30: Grades 5 and 6 students work in interactive science and art classrooms and labs, $ 75 tuition, scholarships available.

Music and writing

• International choro workshop, April 17 and 24 and May 1: Dudu Maia is artistic director, tuition fees $ 250.

• Red Hot Strings, May 14-16: Matt Munisteri is artistic curator, $ 200 adults, $ 100 for participants under 21.

• Fiddle Tunes, July 2-5: Joel Savoy, Artistic Director, Adult Tuition $ 240, Under 21 $ 120.

• Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, July 19-24: Sam Ligon is Artistic Director; the full experience, including morning intensives, is $ 790; afternoon workshops, conferences and panels cost $ 490. Every night of the week, faculty members will give free public readings online.

• Jazz Port Townsend, July 26-30: John Clayton is artistic director of the 35-member faculty; open to high school musicians and up. Tuition fees $ 350.

• Port Townsend Acoustic Blues, August 3-8: Jontavious Willis is artistic director; adult tuition $ 300, under 21 $ 100.


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

Dancer and teacher Junious Brickhouse, seen in 2019, is one of dozens of nationally recognized artists participating in Centrum workshops this spring and summer.  (Diane Urbani de la Paz / Peninsula Daily News)

Dancer and teacher Junious Brickhouse, seen in 2019, is one of dozens of nationally recognized artists participating in Centrum workshops this spring and summer. (Diane Urbani de la Paz / Peninsula Daily News)

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