The Skinny on Skaneateles Festival

The 36th Skaneateles Festival will feature a plethora of talent over a four-week span

When the Skaneateles Festival started in 1980, it featured a few concerts in a local library. Now entering its 36th season, it involves more than 125 community volunteers, draws audiences from across the Northeast, spans four weeks and features more than 75 world-class performers in 20 musical events.

This year’s fest will be the first season for new artistic directors Aaron Wunsch and Julia Bruskin and will feature highlights including a visit from soprano Lisette Oropesa and the first-ever collaboration between Grammy-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth and the NOW Ensemble. There will also be the U.S. premiere of Aspects of Darkness and Light, a collaboration between saxophonist Joshua Redman and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

For those looking to listen by the lake, here’s a guide to the best of the fest:

Wednesday, Aug. 12: The festival opens with the 11 a.m. Kids Fest event featuring Aesop’s Fables at First Presbyterian Church, 97 E. Genesee St., but really ramps up with the Summer Suite opening party featuring world-class music, gourmet food and drinks at the lakeside home of Jessica and Patrick Danial.

Thursday, Aug. 13: First Presbyterian hosts the 8 p.m. program of music by Brahms, Dorman, Britten and Faure, featuring Jennifer Koh, Maria Lamros, Michael Kannen, Julia Bruskin, Orion Weiss, Aaron Wunsch, Jeffrey Irving and Ian Sullivan.

Saturday, Aug. 15: “A Night at the Met,” which takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Brook Farm, 2870 W. Lake Road, brings an assortment of the Metropolitan Opera’s greatest hits, including selections from Die Fledermaus, The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata, with Lisette Oropesa and musicians from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, plus a new arrangement of Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.

Saturday, Aug. 22: Brook Farm presents a 7:30 p.m. concert featuring Roomful of Teeth and the NOW Ensemble, two hot new groups that include Grammy winners and genre benders, unique instrumentation and dynamic combinations, voices and instruments. Several pieces will also be world premieres.

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Students of all ages can enjoy the rare opportunity to sit nearly one on one with artistic directors (and performers) Bruskin and Wunsch for an 11 a.m. tutorial at First Presbyterian. Advance registration is required. At 5:30 p.m., a musical happy hour featuring the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) takes place at Anyela’s Vineyards, 2433 W. Lake Road.

Friday, Sept. 4: Miro Quartet and Aeolus Quartet will gather to discuss their experiences in a professional string quartet, arguably the most intense of all music ensembles. Following the 7 p.m. discussion at First Presbyterian, they’ll perform pieces by Dan Welcher and Mendelssohn.

Joshua Redman. Photo provided

Joshua Redman.
Photo provided

Saturday, Sept. 5: For the 7:30 p.m. show at Brook Farm, superstar jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and the world-famous string quartet Brooklyn Rider have come together with bassist Matt Penman and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi to present the premiere performance of Patrick Zimmerli’s Aspects of Darkness and Light. The combination of jazz, classical and world music, paired with the excitement of the premiere, is sure to make this a major highlight of the festival.

Tickets range from $22 for some individual performances to $152 for various weeklong or season passes. The rain location for the scheduled Brook Farm shows will be Skaneateles High School, 49 E. Elizabeth St. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit or call 685-7418.

Syracuse’s Got Talent

On Saturday, Aug. 15, noon to 5:30 p.m., the Syracuse Sunrise Rotary will host its second annual youth music festival at Kellish Hill Farm, 3192 Pompey Center Road, Manlius. The event will feature young talent from ages 13 to 25.

Student artists Sarah Hiltbrand, Kill the Lights, Cuddlefish, Makalia Courtwright and more will perform styles spanning classical, folk, Americana, blues, rock, soul and gospel. Their performances will be presented for a group of professional judges and mentors, including Todd Hobin, Myles Thompson, Dusty Pas’cal, Greg Hoover, Loren Barrigar, Mark Mazengarb, Andrew Zaplatynsky and Bill Boyd.

The family-friendly festival is designed to be a mentorship-style program rather than a battle of the bands, encouraging all performers to raise their working and practical awareness of their capabilities. Prizes will also be awarded to the winners of various genres, with studio and recording professionals available on site. For more information, visit

Header photo by Michael Davis of the Syracuse New Times

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