The Sitka Summer Music Festival — one of Alaska’s best-kept secrets — begins this Saturday.

For more than 40 years, the festival has attracted some of the finest musicians in the country to perform throughout the month of June.

The festival was started by violinist Paul Rosenthal in 1972. Rosenthal was a rising star in the world of classical music and a protégé of Jascha Heifetz, one of the world’s great violinists.

But Rosenthal gave all of that up to move to a cabin near Fairbanks, along with his wife Linda.

Rosenthal didn’t want to give up his friends, however, so he created the festival to bring them here — for his own enjoyment and for Alaskans, too.

In 2012, Rosenthal retired as artistic director of the festival and passed the torch to Zuill Bailey, widely recognized as one of classical music’s premier cellists.

On Monday, we begin a three-part series, “Zuill!” — looking at why Bailey took on leadership of the festival and what it means to Alaska.