Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival features world-class musicians — and barbecue

05:00 AM, Jul 07, 2013

Cellist Amy Sue Barston is one of the founders of the LakeMusic fest. ((c) 2006 Joel Silverman)/

Written By Daniel J. Kushner

If you go

What: Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival.
When: Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 21.
Where: Varies by concert; go to for details.
Cost: Community Pop-Up Concerts are free; ticketed concerts from $35 to $60 ($15 for students).
For tickets: Call (585) 690-1220 or go to

To paraphrase a well-worn adage, “You can take classical music out of the concert hall, but you can’t take the concert hall out of classical music.” It’s a myth — one that the Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival has been actively challenging for almost a decade now.

The festival embarks on its ninth season, July 12 through 21. Violist and co-founder Edward Klorman recalls the thought process for starting the festival with cellist Amy Sue Barston in 2005. “People come to Canandaigua to celebrate what there is to do on the lake, the local wines,” explains Klorman, a Brighton native. “The perfect match for this would be some wonderful classical music.”

Over a two-week period, Barston, Klorman and a coterie of world-class musicians — including pianist Jon Nakamatsu and cellist Steven Doane — will present audiences with music ranging from Brahms to Saint-Saëns to Bartók. Among the featured artists is New York-based harpist Bridget Kibbey, who sees the LakeMusic Festival as a way to experience classical instruments in a whole new context.

This is a real chance for audiences to experience the visceral, powerful and classic color palette of the harp, and really experience it up close and personal. That’s what makes chamber music so lovely,” says Kibbey. “And I also think it’s an opportunity for people to really feel the energy coming off the stage.”

In addition to being a fixture in a series of free Pop-Up Concerts presented throughout Canandaigua, Kibbey’s presence will be strongly felt on Friday, July 19, in a rare performance of the Edgar Allen Poe-inspired “Conte Fantastique” for harp and strings by André Caplet, a French composer and contemporary of Claude Debussy. This intriguing work will also showcase actor Tommy Labanaris, who will narrate Poe’s haunting “The Masque of the Red Death” in collaboration with the musicians.

Another notable highlight is Classical Blue Jeans on July 17, a decidedly informal event at The Lodge at Bristol Harbour Resort. An intimate concert Kibbey describes as “musicians-in-the-round” will be preceded by a community barbecue dinner.

It’s a chance for audiences to make new friends and to get to know the artists, which I think is important,” says Kibbey.

According to Klorman, the LakeMusic concerts provide a kind of antidote to the attitude of exclusion often adopted in classical music settings.

Some people who are newer to it feel, ‘If I’m not already acculturated, if I don’t know how to pronounce the name Schubert, if I don’t know when I’m supposed to clap during the concert, if I don’t know the name of that instrument — then I’m not welcome.’ And I think that has done some damage to classical music.”

Once again, the LakeMusic Festival is here to try to reverse the damage.