Music Across the Finger Lakes

Geneva Music Festival
by Cynthia L. McVey

Each year beginning around May, artists step down from stages across the country and around the world to bring their musical talents to the Finger Lakes. They perform in churches, concert halls, wineries and outdoor venues throughout the region to add to its vibrant culture. Many of these classical music concerts and events are part of festivals that take place throughout the year.

This year, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, in collaboration with the organizers of many of these events, is developing a website that will showcase all the “Music Across the Finger Lakes” events in one convenient location. “There is so much high-quality musical performance going on in the region and, in many cases, they take place within days and miles of each other,” explains Valerie Knoblauch, president of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “We want to make it easier for people to see all of the great performances available, so they don’t miss something they’ll really enjoy.”

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

What You’ll Find

The Geneva Music Festival (GMF) is typically the first to take place each year, and in 2018 it’s scheduled for May 31 through June 17. Concerts take place in churches, concert halls and a winery in Geneva, Auburn, Canandaigua and Skaneateles.    

GMF’s 2018 Season promises to be exciting, moving and inspirational. Many artists will return by popular demand, such as violinist Jinjoo Cho, pianist Esther Park, violist Eric Wong, and the Cavani Quartet. Other talented artists are making their GMF debut as part of the festival’s “Music, Poetry, and Perspectives: A Celebration of African American Culture.” As part of the Chamber Finale concerts in Skaneateles and Geneva, Ettore Causa, one of the world’s leading viola soloists, will makes his GMF debut.

In July, there are many opportunities to take in a concert or performance. The Canandaigua Lake Music Festival, a weekend of coordinated music, craft, and food activities, begins on Friday, July 20 with the Canandaigua Lake Music Festival. Founded in 2005, it has quickly become an essential part of cultural life in the Greater Rochester area, and has earned a regional reputation for innovative programming, inviting atmosphere, and musical excellence. Its pioneering Classical Blue Jeans concerts, an interactive musical show combined with a barbecue dinner and traditional fiddling in a rustic setting, have been lauded by New Yorker critic Alex Ross.

Since 2008, Geneva Light Opera has offered comic opera with high quality singers and at affordable prices. It conveys the humorous side of an often-serious art form through gifted singers, along with updated English translations with projected supertitles.

During the last weekend of July, performances take place in the exceptional acoustics of Geneva’s 1894 Smith Opera House. In 2018, Rossini’s ever popular “Barber of Seville” will be presented on July 26, 28 and 29 in English. Performing will be outstanding opera singers Jimi James and Valerian Ruminksi, mezzo soprano Sarah Nordin, and a prestige chamber orchestra conducted by James Blachly.

Now in its 38th year, the Skaneateles Festival in August provides world-class music by Skaneateles Lake. The month-long, award-winning event features world-renowned performers. They include Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; three-time Grammy Award winning violinist Hilary Hahn, two violinists and double bassist Time for Three; pianists Joey Alexander, Peter Serkin, Misha Dichter, Garrick Ohlsson, and Jon Nakamatsu; guitarist Eliot Fisk; and famed conductor David Zinman.

Also in August, the Finger Lakes Opera will present a professional opera festival in Canandaigua. In 2017, the festival featured “Die Fledermaus,” by Johann Strauss II, “Little Red’s Most Unusual Day” children’s opera, and Opera Pops opera’s greatest hits. It was all blended with a bit of Broadway and performed by the Finger Lakes Opera Orchestra and the Finger Lakes Opera Young Artists.

The Keuka Lake Music Festival, founded and directed by Penn Yan’s own Dylan Kennedy, features rising stars performing alongside firmly established musicians. Last year, featured artists included international prizewinners as well as faculty, alumni and current students from the top conservatories in the world. Community enrichment and artistic excellence are of utmost importance.

The Auburn Chamber Orchestra (ACO) season begins in October and continues through the following April. The ACO was founded to provide opportunities for qualified musicians to perform orchestral music, and to offer area resident access to affordable symphonic concerts. ACO presents a series of four concerts every year with a repertoire that includes symphonic selections, light classics and show/popular tunes.

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