With a population of 600 living on 56 square miles of land off the coast of Charlevoix in Lake Michigan and accessible only by boat or air, Beaver Island could be described as a throwback to another era. How fitting then that the island hosts its own musical festival featuring sounds of the Renaissance.

Celebrating its 16th season this summer, Baroque on Beaver (known as BonB) focuses on classical music; however, guests may also be treated to jazz, Broadway, folk and other genres throughout the 10-day festival. Renowned musicians from symphonies in Midland, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and even as far away as Mexico, gather for what many consider the epicenter of classical music on the Great Lakes.

Originally organized by locals for locals, the event quickly gained a wider audience and became one of the island’s most popular events and tourist destinations. According to Festival Director Matthew Thomas, the reason for the event’s growth is simple. “Beaver Island is a unique place. Add high-quality music you can enjoy up close and personal, and suddenly a great experience becomes unforgettable!” For this small community, that’s music to its ears. 

While the event continues to be celebrated for raising cultural awareness of classical music, BonB also makes an important economic contribution to the island. Guests tend to stay longer, spend more, and support businesses whose primary focus is tourism, hospitality and transport. For those who don’t have time for an extended stay, day packages are now available. Visit baroqueonbeaver.org for ticket, travel and accommodation information.

In the meantime, as locals and tourists gather under a canopy of stars on a remote island, the sound of music echoing off the water and surrounded by the region’s finest musicians, the words of one musician sum up the experiences of most who attend BonB. “This might sound strange,” this first-time event musician said, “but I really hope you have me back next year.”

The Beaver Island Cultural Arts Association was formalized as a 501­c­3 corporation in 2006. BICAA’s mission is “To serve the Beaver Island community by promoting and supporting the cultural arts, including the annual Baroque on Beaver Festival.” For information about BICAA, please visit the website at bicaa.org or by calling 888­-511­-5189.