Music Across the Finger Lakes as Diverse as Ever in 2019

by Cynthia L. McVey

Last year, just about the time fall began to show its vibrant colors, dozens of dedicated musicians and volunteers started planning the equally-vibrant 2019 summer music festivals. Classical music concerts and events will be performed in churches, concert halls, wineries and outdoor venues throughout the Finger Lakes from May 24 through the end of August. Six festivals will present enough variety that there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy, including children. A full listing is available online:

“The region is so fortunate to have world-class performers both in residence and visiting to take part in festivals such as these,” says Valerie Knoblauch, president of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “With events sometimes within just days and miles of each other, it’s possible to take in a variety of music genres and cultures in a short time. We hope having all of the schedules in one place makes it even easier.”

The Geneva Music Festival (GMF) kicks off the summer music season in the Finger Lakes with concerts from May 24 through June 16. This year GMF celebrates “Women in Music: Key Players,” highlighting women’s contributions as composers and performers. The theme will be woven throughout the season’s performances of chamber, jazz, organ and bluegrass music. Concerts in Geneva, Auburn, Skaneateles and Canandaigua will feature violinist Jinjoo Cho, cellist Clive Greensmith, organist Ray Nagem, pianist Michelle Cann, the Verona Quartet and many others. A special jazz weekend, June 7-8, will see vocalist April May Webb and trumpeter Randall Haywood at Geneva’s Club 86, with a pre-concert dinner available. The next night, Broadway star and jazz artist Syndee Winters and jazz singer, songwriter and actress Ann Hampton Callaway will pay tribute to artists in the National Women’s Hall of Fame with a concert at the Smith Center for the Arts.

The Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival (FLCMF) marks its 17th year this summer. All concerts feature founding director Richard Auldon Clark with professional musicians from his Manhattan Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and invited guest artists. The first concert takes place June 15 at Hunt Country Vineyards with two beautiful string quintets. The Abel Family String Quartet, with Clark on viola, perform Beethoven’s Quintet in C Major, Op. 29 and Dvořák’s Quintet in E flat Major Op. 97. A concert June 30 at the historic Glenn H. Curtiss Museum features oboe, clarinet, trumpet and strings. It’s a musical potpourri including works of Dittersdorf, Randall Thompson, Britten, and Mark O’Connor. On July 14, a concert for piano and strings takes place at Keuka College’s beautiful Norton Chapel. This will include music of Grieg, Debussy, and Robert Schumann. Anthony Road Winery hosts a program for guitar, flute, bassoon and strings on July 21. Special to this event will be Clark’s world premiere and works by Tchaikovsky, Diabelli, Febonio and Piazzolla.

This summer, the Canandaigua Lake Music Festival offers concerts on Fridays and Sundays from July 19-28. In its 15th season, the festival celebrates with some of the most popular guest artists from the past 14 years. Founder Ed Klorman is returning on July 19 and 21 to join the current artistic directors, Kevin Kumar and Amy Sue Barston. The choir, First Inversion, will present an adventurous program on July 21 that also features music of Adam Silverman with a work written for the first year of the festival. Dennis James joins with his unusual “Benjamin Franklin” glass armonica in music composed just for this instrument by Mozart. The second week of performances has 11-year-old Katina Pantazopoulos returning to stage with her cello teacher Barston; The Jasper String Quartet also returns to CLMF. The perennial favorite Classical Blue Jeans will bring food, fun and fiddling to Bristol Harbour on July 24. A show aimed at children and families takes place at Wood Library on July 25.

With three performances, July 25, 27 and 28, Geneva Light Opera presents Mozart’s farcical masterpiece “The Marriage of Figaro” in the acoustically-superb Smith Center for the Arts. This energetic period production juxtaposes side-splitting comedy with biting social commentary, illuminated through Mozart’s transcendent score. Picking up where “The Barber of Seville” left off, the action takes place on a single day of madness in the palace of Count Almaviva. The Count has developed a wandering eye and has set his sights on wily Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susannah, neglecting his own wife, Rosina. What follows is a rousing and poignant comedy of misplaced identities, misbegotten plans and general misbehaving. All ends well as love is restored, families are reunited, and Figaro finally gets his bride.

Now in its 40th year, the Skaneateles Festival provides world-class music alongside Skaneateles Lake. Every August, this month-long, award-winning festival hosts world-renowned performers. The 2019 Season (August 1 – 24) will be highlighted by the return of violinist Hilary Hahn, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and renowned conductor David Zinman, as well as the Festival debut of banjo great Belá Fleck.

The seventh season of Finger Lakes Opera (FLO) is highlighted by Puccini’s masterpiece, La Bohème, the classic story of tragic love on which the Broadway hit “Rent” is based. FLO will present two performances of La Bohème, (August 9 and 11). The production will feature a brilliant cast of rising stars, original staging, lavish costumes, and all the spectacle of world-class grand opera. In addition to La Bohème, FLO also will present a 45-minute children’s opera, the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, on August 3. Rounding out the season on August 10 will be “Opera Hits!” a program that features FLO’s talented Young Artists singing an array of some of the most popular opera arias and ensembles as well as favorite Broadway hits. FLO offers a taste of opera in every form for every person of every age.

To learn more about the Music Across the Finger Lakes, concerts and events taking place this year, visit

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