Incorporated in January, 1991, Chaspen Foundation produced more than three dozen professional arts events on Seattle’s Eastside in its first decade, including symphonic concerts, operatic excerpts with orchestra, chamber music, vocal and instrumental recitals, family concerts, full operas, and numerous revues, utilizing the talents of top professional freelance instrumentalists and singers of the region.
For nearly 30 years Chaspen Foundation led the development of arts in Redmond, WA, under Executive Director Penny Orloff, creating a community orchestra and a youth orchestra, offering an opera training program for young professionals, consulting with the City of Redmond on performing arts-related programs, conducting cooperative projects with the schools, providing free workshops for artists/arts students/parents of artistically gifted children, and collaborating with Lake Washington School District and other local arts organizations to bring a broader range of arts opportunities to the Northwest. A major accomplishment was an annual 15-day Chaspen Summer Music Festival each July from 1991-94, featuring professional concerts, workshops, classes, and student performances at the Overlake School in Redmond. Our educational activities have included beginning strings and orchestra programs, school residencies, youth/adult special populations music programs, arts workshops for youth/adults, and professional coaching of young career-track performing artists. Chaspen Foundation was recognized with the first-ever City of Redmond Arts Award in 1991, and again in 2001.
In 1992 Chaspen Foundation created a 12-part arts education series on KCPQ Television for KCPQ Kids’ Club, featuring 25 children from the Chaspen music classes. We reached additional tens of thousands with our live radio broadcasts on KING-FM and our “Currents” segments on KCTS-Channel 9 TV.
Chaspen Opera Theater presented a fully-staged and costumed MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at the Redmond Senior Center in 1996 with a 26-piece orchestra. This was followed by AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Theater in 1997. The next year saw our COSI FAN TUTTE in a new English adaptation and AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS, both with full orchestra at the Meydenbauer. Chaspen produced the world premiere of TWILIGHT VOICES by Seattle composer Stan Hoffman in 1999. For Chaspen’s Opera for Young Audiences program, we commissioned RED RIDING HOOD by Eastside composer Christopher Lee Fraley, paired with PETER AND THE WOLF at Redmond Children’s Playhouse in 1997. Fraley’s THE FROG PRINCE debuted in 1998. THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER by composer Allen Shawn and librettist Penny Orloff premiered in 1999, and was subsequently published by Boosey-Hawkes, the world’s foremost publisher of contemporary music.
Chaspen has supported arts organizations throughout the western United States, including Seattle’s Radost Folk Ensemble, Redmond Association of Spoken Word, and Second Story Repertory Theater; Rogue Machine Theatre and Skylight Theatre of Los Angeles; and Los Angeles Ballet (LAB), including 2 annual LAB residencies with Radost Folk Ensemble, and 2 annual choreographic workshops.
From inception, Chaspen Foundation has supported individual artists through our annual Young Artist Development program and individual artist grants. Artists served through this program have included African-American mezzo-soprano Claudette Hatcher; “Brothers in Song” Joseph and Christian Figueroa; dancer-choreographer Lucy Van Cleef; screenwriter/producer Rachael Meyers; actor/singer Zachary Appel; graphic artist Gregory Orloff; and dancers Allynne Noelle and Tigran Sargsyan. A special competitive grant has been awarded in June, 2020, to Carolyn Elliot of Los Angeles, for innovative children’s arts programming utilizing ZOOM technology during the COVID-19 lockdown.