An Abundance of Music

Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival
 by Cynthia L. McVey

Just in time for the summer concert season, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, in collaboration with the organizers of many of the region’s music events, launched a website that features the “Music Across the Finger Lakes” in one convenient location.

“The festival organizers collectively reached out to us with the idea of creating a single place where music lovers could see the different opportunities to enjoy musical performances in our region,” explains Valerie Knoblauch, president of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “We were happy to be able to work with them to create this resource and help showcase the wonderful talent on stage here each year.”

The music festival season kicked off with the Geneva Music Festival, which ran through June 17. Just as it was presenting its finale, the 16th year of the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival (FLCMF) began. Each concert of the FLCMF is set in a special Finger Lakes location, from wineries to a chapel and a museum. All concerts are under the baton of founding director Richard Auldon Clark, also the founder of the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra.

The FLCMF’s 2018 season, which runs through July 28, includes a mix of old and some new, classical and folk, and a sprinkling of surprises maestro Clark has in mind to delight and challenge. On July 22, join FLCMF for “Tango and More on Flute, Guitar and Viola, the Music of Piazzola and Diabelli.”

The month-long Keuka Lake Music Festival begins on Saturday, July 14 with a Summer Gala at Lakeside Country Club, in Penn Yan. The Keuka Lake Music Festival is dedicated to bringing the highest quality classical music to the Finger Lakes region and features rising stars performing alongside firmly established musicians. Founded and directed by Penn Yan’s own Dylan Kennedy, the 2018 featured artists include international prizewinners as well as faculty, alumni and current students of the top conservatories in the world.

Taking place from July 20 through 29 is the Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival, which has established a regional reputation for its concerts’ innovative programming, inviting atmosphere and musical excellence.

“This season is particularly special because we’re celebrating wildly-talented young people,” says co-artistic director Amy Barston.

During the season finale, “Masters and Apprentices,” Barston’s student, 10-year-old cello sensation Katina Pantazopoulos, joins her in performing Vivaldi’s stormy Concerto for Two Cellos. Pantazopoulos made her debut in Carnegie Hall this spring.

Additionally, eight festival musicians will come together to perform beloved Concerto Grossos by Corelli and Handel, and the Jasper Quartet leads Mendelssohn’s Octet, his incredible masterpiece written when he was only 16 years old.

Since 2008, Geneva Light Opera has produced comic opera during the last weekend of July in the exceptional acoustics of Geneva’s 1894 Smith Opera House – with high quality singers and at affordable prices. This year, Rossini’s ever popular “Barber of Seville” will be presented in English on July 26, 28 and 29 with outstanding opera singers Jimi James and Valerian Ruminksi, mezzo soprano Sarah Nordin, and a prestige chamber orchestra conducted by James Blachly. The Geneva Light Opera is able to convey the humorous side of an often serious art form through gifted singers and updated English translations with projected supertitles.

Music continues its journey across the lakes in August, when the Finger Lakes Opera presents Johann Strauss Jr’s Die Fledermaus, Little Red’s Most Unusual Day, and Opera Pops.

The Finger Lakes Opera was born in 2012 on the campus of the State University of New York at Geneseo. Artistic Director and Founder Gerard Floriano and Christopher Dahl, then president of SUNY Geneseo, envisioned creating a summer professional opera festival in the heart of the Finger Lakes. They saw outstanding singers, designers and directors coming together to create bold new productions of grand operatic masterpieces, resplendent with spectacular sets, dazzling costumes and inventive staging, accompanied by a professional orchestra. More than 2,000 people attend productions each summer.

Each August, the Skaneateles Festival provides world-class music by the lake. This month-long, award-winning festival hosts renowned musicians who leave big cities and major concert halls to live, eat, laugh, rehearse and perform together in the beautiful lakeside village of Skaneateles. The Skaneateles Festival offers classical and contemporary music as well as jazz, along with KidsFest! concerts for families and free community events.

On Opening Night, August 9, marvel at jaw-dropping virtuosos double-bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Tai Murray. They’ll perform separately, and then together, in a festival commissioned by award-winning composer Derek Bermel for bass, violin and actor. The festival artistic directors start off the evening with Mendelssohn’s luminous Variations for Cello and Piano, and the program closes with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ravishing, romantic Piano Quintet.

More information about each festival, including links to their websites and ticketing information, is online at

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