Who says summer in Syracuse is boring? No one who lives here! The last week and a half has been filled with excitement. Lots to do, and barely enough time to fit it all in!
The Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival is in full swing. It’s a bit of a hike to get there from here, but well worth the trip. We were able to get to the Flute Fest showcasing students from the International Flute Institute, and it was a great performance. These young flutists are amazingly talented, and standing out (in a group filled with stand-outs!) was soloist Jae Uk Jeon, the winner of the 2009 IFI Concerto Competition. His performance of the Allegro maestoso from Mozart’s Concerto for Flute in G Major, K.313 was fantastic, and the arrangement for flute choir accompaniment by Mian Kim was extremely well done.
The festival continues through August 21, and will include Igudesman and Joo performing A Little Nightmare Music (check them out on YouTube for a big laugh), as well as Bach’s A Musical Offering on closing night. Although the tickets are a bit pricey, you should make an effort to attend at least one performance. Organizer and Artistic Director Linda Chesis has put together a wonderful program for this 11th season. This is the first time I’ve been able to attend, but it will definitely not be the last.
Closer to home, Samba Laranja performed at the Marcellus Library on Friday evening. We set up on the lawn beside the new library building, and the crowd brought their sunglasses, their lawn chairs, and tons of enthusiasm! The concert was free and kid friendly, and so high energy that the kids were running and tumbling in the grass in time to the music. Cheers and shouts for “Encore!” kept us playing until the sun had nearly set. A bad day melts away, and a good day only gets better when the drums start your hands clapping and your feet tapping.
Saturday brought the Latino Festival in Clinton Square in the heart of Syracuse. Food and vendors lined the street, they sponsored a Frida look-alike contest, and the stage was full all day with performance after performance after performance. Local teens showed their dancing skills, Salsa dancers twirled, live bands performed . . . and the Society for New Music brought cast members from Frida, a new opera being staged in September. The cast sang selections for about half an hour, whetting the appetite of the crowd for the full opera set for September 11 at 8:00 pm at the Carrier Theatre in Syracuse. (Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors, and are available at the door.)
But we didn’t rest after leaving the festival. Saturday night we brought our lawn chairs to Thornden Park in the heart of Syracuse and settled in to watch Shakespeare’s The Tempest, part of this year’s Syracuse Shakespeare Festival. It was a beautiful, clear night, and this was the perfect play to see in such a natural setting. It was as though we were on Prospero’s island with the cast. The actors did a fine job, and, with the exception of the microphones cutting out for a moment here and there, was clear and accessible. And there is still an opportunity to see this play. It will run this week as well, at 5:30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2:00 pm on Sunday. Bring the kids – they have games and a maypole there as well!
Best of all, the Samba Laranja performance, the Latino Festival, and Shakespeare in the Park were all free events. In fact, at Shakespeare in the Park they sponsored a 50/50 drawing as well as drawings for copies of the play – you had the chance to walk away with something extra!
All of this goes to show that the arts are still going strong. More importantly, they are accessible to everyone. If you’ve been reluctant to check out a new music concert, or a play, or an art exhibit, just watch your local events calendar. Free events (and very inexpensive ones) abound! What have you got to lose?