May 29th, 2019

July in McMinnville: Aquilon Music Festival

Many Oregon towns have music festivals that by this point need no introduction, but here’s a new one for you: The Aquilon Music Festival. You’ll find it in Oregon wine country this summer.

It doesn’t get better than this: Opera at an affordable price, with performances both on the Linfield College campus in McMinnville and at area wineries. Several events are free. The rest are ticketed performances that are considerably more affordable than what you’d pay in Portland.

How did this happen?

Aquilon is the brainchild of Anton Belov, a music professor at Linfield. Prior to coming to Linfield, he taught at the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine. After a few years in McMinnville, it hit him that a similar event could work here. He launched it last summer to much acclaim.

If you’re planning a visit in July, chances are good there will be a performance the week you’re here.

Opera goers at Remy Wines in 2018.

Staying downtown? Perfect. You’re only a mile or so from Linfield, where several events will be held that culminate the third week of July with Mozart’s The Magic Flute, performed in German with English supertitles.

Here are some highlights:

From Vienna to Broadway – Light operetta and musical theater from the rhythms of Spanish zarzuela to the staples of Broadway repertoire at the Black Walnut Inn in Dundee. You’ll love the Tuscan countryside vibe they have there. July 6, 7 p.m.

The Banquet of Bacchus – More opera, different winery: This one’s at McMinnville’s Youngberg Hill at 5 p.m., July 7. Pair music in the vineyard celebrating life and love with a glass of wine. Food also available for purchase.

Paris-New York – Music from Carmen, Faust, Romeo and Juliette, Lakmé, as well as favorites by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Sondheim, and Bernstein at Stoller Family Estate in Dayton, 6 p.m., July 13. The view up there is spectacular; you’ll feel like floating home.

If this is your first Aquilon, be advised: Check the schedule now and make those reservations immediately, because some of these venues are intimate with limited seating, and the tickets sell fast.

Also, if you’re planning an early dinner prior to a concert, give yourself plenty of time for the meal and getting to the venue. When making dinner reservations by phone, you might mention that you have tickets for a specific time. They can help you get a time where you’re not rushed.

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater
productions since 1998.