Arts and Entertainment

Inspired by the Snoqualmie Valley: Seasoned violinist takes the stage at Festival of Music

Lenore Vardi will play at the first Snoqualmie Valley Festival of Music. - Photo by Mary Miller
Lenore Vardi will play at the first Snoqualmie Valley Festival of Music.
— image credit: Photo by Mary Miller

From her earliest years, North Bend resident Lenore Vardi has been inseparable from the violin.

At age 2, Vardi was instantly in love with the old violin her father kept in a closet. She began playing the instrument at age 7, and grew to become a well-known soloist. This summer, she headlines the Vardi Chamber Players at the first annual Snoqualmie Valley Festival of Music, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 7 and 8, at Mountain Meadows Farm.

Growing up in Detroit, Vardi studied music at conservatories and colleges. In 1977, she met and studied with virtuoso viola player Emmanuel Vardi. Their relationship gradually developed; they married in 1984 and have been together ever since.

“Lenore has one of the most unusual sounds on the violin that I’ve heard from anyone,” Emmanuel said. “When she plays one sound, everybody gets quiet. It’s training, energy and command of the instrument.”

Her resume as a violinist and violaist grew with various experiences, such as collaborating with global artists and performing worldwide as a violinst in the Vardi Duo with Emmanuel.

But three years ago, the Vardis moved to the Northwest to get away from the bright lights and hubbub of New York City.

“We had a friend in Port Townsend who kept saying to me that we needed to come to Washington,” Vardi said. “We lived there for about eight months. It got to be so hard on us because we were living on the ferry, as we were constantly coming to Bellevue and Seattle.”

Exhausted from the commute, the Vardis next settled in North Bend.

“I’m more of a mountain person,” Vardi said. “Water is beautiful, but I tend to gravitate to the mountains. I love these trees. The whole area is very inspiring.”

Three years in, Vardi has musically begun to find her way, teaching violin lessons to residents ranging from the ages of 9 to 64.

It was when a mother of one of her students connected her with North Bend residents Dick and Sallie Burhans that she discovered the artistic and musical talents hidden in the Valley.

Invited to play in last year’s Festival at Mount Si, inside the “The Arts at Festival Hall,” Vardi competed with loud sounds of rock and jazz bands outside the hall, and left bystanders speechless.

“Dressed in a long black gown, she was announced, and everyone just went quiet,” Sallie Burhans said.

Her performance became one of the elements that inspired the first annual Valley Festival of Music.

That concert has grown to take on an energy of its own.

Inviting close friends who will accompany her in a chamber ensemble as the Vardi Chamber Players, the musical group of five includes Vardi on the violin, Jeffrey Solow on the cello, Barbara Oldham playing the french horn, Kimberly Russ as the pianist and David Harding on the viola.

“I’m excited for a lot of things concerning this festival,” Vardi said. “I love chamber music, it’s my deep love so I’m really excited that I have been given the opportunity to be able to perform in such a gorgeous venue.”

• For festival information, visit or call (425) 888-7432.

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