For a summer immersion in the arts, head east in July and west in August

Opera music


Central New Yorkers can enjoy summer art and music festivals again this year by going to Cazenovia in July and Skaneateles in August. These two long-standing suburban traditions are emerging from the pandemic with multiple events designed to entertain a diverse audience.

“Living art! Cazenovia Counterpoint Festival of the Expressive Arts’, takes place at 31 venues throughout the village east of Syracuse. The Skaneateles Festival, which takes place in the west of the city, has music and lectures scheduled from August 3 to 28.


Singers Danan Tsan, right, and Noa Derosa-Anderson work with Victoria King, director of the new opera ?? Libba Cotton, ?? by Mark Olivieri with a libretto by Kyle Bass. The opera is one of dozens of events that will take place during Cazenovia Counterpoint in July.

Cazenovia Counterpoint is an extension of a summer musical series that began as porch concerts 41 years ago. Now it involves traders, artists, fraternal organizations, the library and churches from all over the village. The Syracuse Society for New Music, founded in 1971, is the managing organization.

Counterpoint opens with an invitational art exhibit, coordinated by Sherry Spann Abbott. It presents regional artists whose works are exhibited in the parish hall of the Episcopal Church of Saint-Pierre and at various merchants. As part of the July 4th parade, a quintet made up of rising stars from past years will perform. And, at four Saturday farmers’ markets, new music will be presented from 10 a.m. to noon.

Most events, including the Syracuse Downtown Writers Center Poetry Roundtable on July 13 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., are free. Tickets will be required for “Libba Cotton,” a new opera to be performed July 17 at 7:30 pm at the Catherine Cummings Theater, and “New Music Strikes Gold,” July 25 at 4:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church.

“Libba Cotton” is the story of a humble, talented, left-handed singer and songwriter who grew up in the segregated South. She played the guitar and the banjo backwards and forwards. Mark Olivieri is the composer; Kyle Bass is the librettist.

Director Victoria King says Cotton, who lived in Syracuse for the last years of her life, won a Grammy Award at the age of 93. Heather Buchman, director of the orchestra and chamber music program at Hamilton College, will conduct. Performers will be Jacque Tara Washington, Gregory Sheppard, Jessica Dominque Montgomery, Danon Tsan, Steven Stull and Noa Derosa-Anderson with musicians from Syracuse New Music Society Players.

“This new opera house celebrates a folk music legend who has close ties to central New York City. We are excited to present it to a live audience during Cazenovia Counterpoint, ”King said. Tickets can be ordered online at the Society for New Music website. The cost is $ 20 with discounts for students and seniors.

Bennet Coughlin, advertising coordinator, explains that part of the festival’s goal is to nurture emerging talent in the area. He mentions Christopher Cresswell, a native of Cazenovia, who was an undergraduate representative on the board and who participated in earlier counterpoints. This year, Cresswell will be at the Presbyterian Church on July 25 and at the Farmer’s Market in the Green across from Cazenovia High School on July 31.

Emily Graham, a senior at Syracuse University and a member of the board of trustees, composed a flute solo for rising star Kate O’Leary, a Marcellus High School student who won the Central New instrumental competition. York Association of Music Teachers. Rising Stars will perform July 14-21 at the Presbyterian Church.

The culminating event takes place on July 31 at the Lakeland Park Pavilion in Cazenovia. The Society Players will perform pieces by the participants at the Young Composers Corner. Members of the public should take chairs or blankets to sit on; the concert starts at 4:30 p.m.

Sharye Skinner, who coordinates the events, says, “The wonder of Cazenovia Counterpoint is that it interfaces with people of all ages and celebrates so many art and music forms.

For details on events, times and the names of dozens of artists and performers, find a brochure in locations around the village or check online at


Music festivals

Time for Three will perform at the Skaneateles Festival on August 27-28, including a special performance for young listeners. From left to right: Charles Yang, violin; Ranaan Meyer, double bass, and Nick Kendall, violin. They all sing. Photo courtesy of the Skaneateles Festival.

Featuring lakefront music for the 42nd season, the Skaneateles Festival will feature an abbreviated program filled with what Aaron Wunsch calls “real electricity”. Wunsch and his wife Julia Bruskin, both professional musicians, are co-artistic directors of the festival. They say all artists are eager to interact with audiences again.

“The performers spend countless hours with the music alone,” said Wunsch, “but that one or two hours with a live audience is the most satisfying part of everything, and it has lasted for over a year. with an audience of friends at the Skaneateles festival will be moving. Music is the conduit, but what we all aspire to is human connection. “

Although there are fewer performances than in a typical season, Skanfest will cover a lot of ground. Wunsch said the season includes classical, jazz, folk, ensembles, concerto, hidden gems, commissioned new work, fresh faces and familiar faces.

Audiences will be able to watch Wunch and Bruskin perform together on August 26 when they collaborate on a cello sonata by African-American composer George Walker, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. Their performance will be part of “The Voice Within”.

“We like to share this piece, because listeners don’t know it, and we think it’s one of the most fascinating music around,” said Wunsch. “It is full of jazzy syncopations, but its musical language is closer to the style of Samuel Barber. The slow movement is heartbreaking, and the last movement will have listeners on the edge of their seats. “

Wunsch said this season will feature an exciting Festival debut as well as beloved standards. On August 12, the Dover Quartet will perform music by Beethoven and a new work commissioned by the Festival from the youngest Pulitzer Prize winner, Caroline Shaw. Sensational 18-year-old pianist Avery Gagliano will perform a Chopin concerto, and one of the most respected jazz ensembles, the Bill Charlap Trio, will perform on August 13-14.

“We also have the return of the Time for Three string group, and they’re guaranteed to make us feel the best in the world,” Wunsch added.

Wunsch, a faculty member at the Juilliard School, will be offering his annual teaching sessions at Skanfest U, which will deal with “Voices Unheard: Composers at the Margins”. Classes will take place virtually on August 3, 10, 17 and 24, providing a context for the music that will be performed during the festival.

Grateful to be returning to concerts in person, Skanfest organizers are already looking towards summer 2022. “We plan to get big next year,” Wunsch said. “It will be even more than a full comeback. The world has changed and we want to live in those changes and celebrate life as fully as possible. We can’t wait to let you know when the time comes.

The Friday and Saturday concerts will be presented at the Robinson Pavilion in Anyela’s Vineyard. Other locations, as well as rain locations, have yet to be announced. Saturday series concerts cost $ 70 to $ 100; single ticket prices are $ 30 to $ 60. For more information on season passes, free seats for youth 18 and under, and other special seats, call 315-685-7418 or visit the festival website.