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Brown bears boogie to Bach

JAMES POULSON / Daily Sitka Sentinel via The Associated Press

Cellist Armen Ksajikian played a concert for the brown bears at the Fortress of the Bears sanctuary in Sitka on Thursday.

The Armenian-born cellist visited the facility while taking part in the Sitka Summer Music Festival. He was struck by the acoustics of the bear habitat set in a giant clarifier tank at a former pulp mill. "It's a very resonant, surreal sound," he said.

With sanctuary director Les Kinnear, he twice returned with his cello and, from a platform at the end of a precarious catwalk, performed a short program that included bits of Bach and Berlioz. (Pronounced, ahem, "BEAR-lee-owes.")

"The bears were very interested," said Roberta Rinehart, the executive director of the annual chamber music festival. So was a small crowd of classical music lovers and a bus load of tourists.

Kzajikian's other musical adventures have included performing in the Grand Canyon and on Mendenhall Glacier. He is a regular participant in the festival, which continues through June 25.

Municipal Bear Aware site
Anchorage Daily News /
Anchorage Daily News