Now in our fourth season, we are the first and only festival in the U.S. devoted exclusively to presenting the chamber music of the Classical and Romantic eras, performed on period instruments.


After many years of exploring, performing and recording the chamber music of the Classical and Romantic periods on period instruments, founders Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian have come to the conclusion that these well-known pieces can be experienced in a completely new way, not only through the unique qualities of period instruments but also through a full understanding of period style. Tanya began to appreciate this many years ago in the Netherlands, where she studied and performed, when she heard a very familiar Mozart symphony performed on period instruments by the Orchestra of the 18th Century.

Approached in a style more Baroque than modern, the piece came into an entirely new and fascinating light. The historical instruments took care of many of the balance problems that can arise playing on modern instruments, while bringing out the humor, charm, and poignancy of the music.

For the past ten years, Eric and Tanya have immersed themselves in Classical and Romantic music on period instruments: recording, performing, and teaching these pieces from an historic perspective. They have dedicated more and more of their time and attention to fostering students' development by coaching, mentoring and featuring them in a house concert series. That led to the idea of starting a music festival devoted to performing and teaching this repertoire on period instruments. Valley of the Moon Music Festival is not just an exciting series of summer concerts in the beautiful town of Sonoma, but also a place for emerging musicians to thrive as they incorporate this chamber music into their professional lives.



All music is performed on period instruments—or authentic reproductions—from the time the music was written. Mozart, Beethoven, CPE Bach, Haydn, and Brahms never heard their music played on a modern concert grand piano, or on string instruments with nylon or metal strings. Their pianos were woodier, and their violins and cellos had gut strings; the sound was more natural, delicate, and had a subtlety almost impossible to achieve on modern instruments.

Using period instruments allows the musicians and their audiences to hear pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries in a manner that is much closer to what the composers intended when they wrote their music. The balance between piano and strings is more natural and the colors of the individual instruments are more piquant and charming.


Sonoma has great natural beauty that makes it an ideal setting for a summer music festival. There are many delightful places to stay, wonderful restaurants, and many wineries to explore. There is a growing local audience for great music and culture. It is also a very convenient location for Bay Area music lovers; it is about an hour’s drive from San Francisco and Berkeley, and even less from Marin, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and Napa.