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Skaneateles Festival begins 34th year

First week’s events well received, big names still to come

Pianist Laura Ward and vocalist Jennifer Aylmer perform a movement from Leonard Bernstein’s “Arias and Barcarolles” at an open rehearsal in First Presbyterian Church on Aug. 7. They were joined by vocalist Randall Scarlata and pianist Elinor Freer to perform the piece as a pre-concert event on Aug. 8.

Pianist Laura Ward and vocalist Jennifer Aylmer perform a movement from Leonard Bernstein’s “Arias and Barcarolles” at an open rehearsal in First Presbyterian Church on Aug. 7. They were joined by vocalist Randall Scarlata and pianist Elinor Freer to perform the piece as a pre-concert event on Aug. 8. Joe Genco

People from Ithaca, Albany, Buffalo and even Canada be will be visiting Skaneateles in coming weeks for one purpose: live music.

The Skaneateles Festival opened its 34th year last week with concerts and events around town.

Most of the concerts in the festival’s four-week run are held on Thursday and Friday at First Presbyterian Church on East Genessee Street and Saturdays at Brook Farm on West Lake Road.

Concerts in the first week of the festival all followed the theme of “The Voice” featuring concerts that demonstrated how the human voice is “the ultimate musical instrument.”

Paul Farhi, of Ithaca, described the concert Thursday evening as “magnificent” and said he enjoyed his first visit to the festival. “We love Skaneateles, there is very nice architecture here,” he said.

A group of concert-attendees from Auburn noted that there are no musical offering there to compare with the festival in Skaneateles.

In addition to concerts that had vocal performances with accompanists, Friday evening’s concert, held at Saint Mary’s of the Lake church, featured Anonymous 4, a world-class a cappella group consisting of four women who made their festival debut.

Artistic Directors, and performers, Elinor Freer and David Yang determine the theme for each week and pick the pieces of music to be performed before hiring the musicians for the festival, Freer said.

While the festival is known for its performances of classical-style music, it has worked to expand its appeal in the past few years by also planning concerts that include more modern pieces of music and non-traditional practices.

“I think we are trying to attract anybody and everybody regardless of age, demographics, experience with classical music and part of our mission is to broaden the audience base of the festival and to include events that would appeal to a younger crowd,” Freer said.

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