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Fantastic Universe

Valley of the Moon Music Festival

Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VMMF), the only music festival in the United States championing Classical and Romantic music on period instruments, has announced the program for its eighth season, titled Fantastic Universe: Music of the Natural World.

The annual festival will feature nine different chamber and vocal music programs featuring worldrenowned musicians performing music inspired by the natural world on instruments built when the music was composed.

The festival runs July 16 through July 31. Audiences will be treated to musical performances in unique venues throughout Sonoma Valley, a children’s concert, and the annual Blattner Lecture Series, in which dynamic speakers will give historical and social context to this season’s music.

“Throughout the chaos of the past two years, we’ve found ourselves actively seeking out time in nature, both as a safe space to gather with others and to reconnect with ourselves,” said Tanya Tomkins, VMMF founder and codirector. “[This] is why we were moved to select the natural world as this year’s festival theme. Nature has been a great refuge, source of inspiration, and gathering place for centuries, so it felt deeply appropriate to use this year’s festival as a celebration and moment to honor Mother Nature with some of the finest music she has inspired.”

In addition to VMMF’s usual format of performances in the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium, the organization is also unveiling the Music Alfresco series, where audiences can experience music in select outdoor settings in Sonoma Valley. With this newly expanded footprint, VMMF strives to increase the festival’s accessibility and engage more of the community, region, and visiting tourists in a powerful and unique musical experience.

Classical and Romantic chamber music, familiar to the layperson from performances on modern instruments, is brought more intimately to life by VMMF musicians who play the pieces on period instruments. The string players use gut strings rather than modern steel, and the pianos, brought to the festival each year, are ornate, with a delicate, deep sound. Only a handful of festivals, all based outside the U.S., present 18th- and 19th-century chamber music repertoires in this way, which festival organizers say sheds entirely new and fresh light on the music.

For more information or to purchase tickets for this season’s festival, please visit