Skaneateles Festival kicks off star-studded season with Silkroad Ensemble, Rhiannon Giddens | Entertainment

Ellen Sorber special for the citizen

Celebrating its 43rd season, the Skaneateles Festival is proud to be back for a full four-week season of star-studded concerts in 2022.

What started as a local adoration for music has grown into a thriving festival attracting world-class musicians and music lovers from across the United States. The festival features live classical, jazz, orchestral, bluegrass and opera music this season. Every member of the family will find something to love, whether it’s sipping wine while listening to jazz in the lakeside vineyards and enjoying soulful orchestras under the stars, listening to opera in the warm glow of the sanctuary, take part in live music education classes and bring the little ones to interactive children’s events.

The festival’s opening week kicks off with the famous Miró Quartet on Thursday July 28, joined by eminent American clarinetist David Shifrin at the First Presbyterian Church. The Miró Quartet returns on Friday July 29 to perform works by Ravel, Brahms and American composer Kevin Puts’ new quartet, “Home”, a reflection on what “chez nous” means to all of us in light of the recent crises of refugees. While all festival concerts begin at 8 p.m. on opening night, Skaneateles Festival is offering “Backstage Pass: Get to Know the Artists” at 7 p.m. before the concert, which is open to all ticket holders for the concert.

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Limited tickets will be available at the door each evening. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for performances at the church, 97 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles.

Headlining the festival’s first weekend is the Silkroad Ensemble with Grammy-winning bluegrass singer and musician Rhiannon Giddens on July 30 at the Robinson Pavilion at Anyela’s Vineyards, 2433 W. Lake Road, Skaneateles. Yo-Yo Ma designed Silkroad in 1998, recognizing the historic Silk Road as a model of cultural collaboration. In a groundbreaking experiment, he brought together and created an ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from around the world and a social impact organization working to make a positive impact beyond borders through the arts. The July 30 concert marks the final leg of the ensemble’s Phoenix Rising tour with Rhiannon Giddens, “an advocate for contemporary voices that can inspire us to work together for a better world,” said Yo-Yo Ma.

In addition, on the evening of the concert, the festival will also raffle a banjo donated by one of the evening’s sponsors, the Deering Banjo Co. The banjo will be signed by Rhiannon Giddens and the proceeds of the raffle will be donated to a fund Harriet Tubman in Auburn. Tickets are currently sold out for this concert; however, other tickets will be available as time permits. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, there is a form on the Skaneateles Festival website where you can sign up to be notified if more become available.

On August 4, “six superb brass instruments” from the Brass Project (The Philadelphia Enquirer) with American organist David Higgs (“outstanding” – The New York Times) join the festival for an evening of “Dances and Fanfares” at the First Presbyterian Church . The music of JS Bach is a common thread in the programme, which also includes works by Handel, English and Italian Renaissance composers, and short contemporary fanfares by promising young composers. The organ and brass concert begins at 8 p.m., and there will also be a prelude concert at 7 p.m. with 2022 Robinson Prize winner, flautist Kate O’Leary. The prelude concert is open to all concert ticket holders.

“Folk Dreams” on August 5 rounds out the week for those who enjoy an eclectic mix of folk and classical music. This colorful program of imaginative concert works inspired by folk music includes performances by violinist Ayano Ninomiya (“deeply communicative and captivating” – The New York Times) and phenomenal young pianist Maxim Lando (“fingers of steel.. . with a deep sense of music” – San Francisco Classical Voice).

The second week of the festival ends with “Mozart and Shostakovich under the stars” with the brilliant teenage pianist Maxim Lando, who plays with “infectious exuberance” (The New York Times) and the Skaneateles Festival Orchestra. Together, at the Robinson Pavilion in Anyela Vineyards, they will play Shostakovich’s thrilling “Concerto for Piano and Trumpet”, Mozart’s masterpiece, the “Jupiter” symphony, and Jessie Montgomery’s “Banner”, a reflection on his experience of the national anthem.

For the concerts at the vineyard, the public is invited to arrive from 6 p.m. and bring picnics to eat on the lawn with a breathtaking view of the lake. Wine and beer will be available for purchase at Anyela’s Vineyards; outside alcohol is not allowed. In case of bad weather, the concert will be moved to Skaneateles High School. Venue changes will be notified to all affected ticket holders in advance.

This year’s educational course, SkanFest U, begins from 3-4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26 at First Presbyterian Church. The theme of the course is “How Folk Becomes Classical(al)” and it explores how composers adopt and adapt the sounds and rhythms of folk music in their works. Hear and discuss authentic folk music from Austria, India, Eastern Europe and America, and learn about the pathways of these cultures to concert music today. Get ready to hear folk-inspired music at the festival by Haydn, Schubert, Reena Esmail, Dvořák and others, and enjoy exclusive live performances from festival artists. Classes will take place every Tuesday from July 26 to August 16. The four-course series costs $40 and is free for season pass holders.

There are two SkanFest kids events taking place this year, one at 11 a.m. on August 3 at the new Hartlot Happening at 639 Hartlot St. in Elbridge. The Brass Project will invite children of all ages to explore the question: can music transport us somewhere else? And is it possible to imagine detailed images and locations just by listening to the music? The Brass Project delves into music from the days of JS Bach to recent brass bands everywhere. Give free rein to your imagination and let yourself be carried away by the music! Children are free and adults are $5 at the door.

All tickets are on sale now and available for purchase on the Skaneateles Festival website, skanfest.orgor by calling the box office at (315) 685-7418.

Ellen Sorber is the digital communications and social media manager for the Skaneateles Festival, an annual series of performances of chamber music and other musical styles by international talent in the Skaneateles area. For more information, visit or call (315) 685-7418.

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