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Episode 99: Zuill Bailey — Serenading Alaska

By Rhonda McBride 9:10 AM March 20, 2017


From time to time, we repeat some of our popular episodes of Frontiers. This Sunday, we brought back a program we aired last fall, featuring Zuill Bailey, a nationally known cellist, who comes to Alaska frequently as part of his role as artistic director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival.

Since our program aired, Bailey received a Grammy award for best solo performance for “Tales of Hemingway,” composed by Michael Daugherty. When Bailey accepted his Grammy in Los Angeles, he talked about how he uses music to heal — a subject he took up on Frontiers.

Bailey and his cello, which he describes as his soul mate, have serenaded Alaska off and on over the last ten years.

Now, he says, the state has begun to feel more like home because he spends about four months a year here to promote classical music.

On this week’s program we take time out to get to know a cellist, whose mission is to put Alaska on the map for classical music through his work at the Sitka Summer Music Festival and his ever-growing outreach across the state.

You’ll find Bailey performing for well-heeled, concert-goers in Anchorage, but also for North Slope oil workers, inmates at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and school kids in remote communities.

As Bailey is known to say, “Music has no boundaries.”

Some of the highlights of this episode:

  • A look at Bailey’s vision for the Sitka Summer Music Festival
  • Behind-the-scenes with Bailey and concert pianist Navah Perlman as they prepare for a concert
  • An interview with Bailley, in which he tells the story of his 323-year-old cello and how he came to possess it

About six years ago, Bailey took over the Sitka festival from Paul Rosenthal, the violinist who started it in 1972.

The vision then and now: to embrace Alaska’s beauty and freedom from convention and to explore creativity.

Bailey hopes to build upon Rosenthal’s vision of Alaska as a musical oasis, where the “best of the best” come to recharge and find inspiration.

We hope you will find inspiration in this brief visit with Zuill Bailey on Frontiers. I must say it was an amazing experience to sit so close to a 323-year-old cello and feel its vibrations. My instincts tell me you can’t go wrong with a show that’s full of beautiful music, beautiful scenery and big ideas.

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