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Some major area festivals, such as Rochester's Lilac Festival and the Rochester International Jazz Festival, already have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. Now, joining them are the Geneva Music Festival, a series of classical and chamber-music events in the Finger Lakes region; and the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in nearby Trumansburg, which was to celebrate its 30th anniversary this summer.
• Geneva Music Festival director Geoffrey Herd, in announcing that the 2020 festival would not take place, noted that music would still be offered in a variety of formats throughout the summer and fall, with the season renamed "A Musical Offering: Our Gift During a Time of Crisis."
In an email message, Herd wrote that the festival would offer music over the next six months through both live streamed living-room performances (and Q&A sessions) and audio and video recordings, featuring many of the festival's frequent artists — and, once it's determined to be safe to do so, the GMF will present live concerts in venues "in a safe and comfortable way." Plans are for several live performances throughout the Finger Lakes from September through December.
For now, GMF occasionally posts on its Facebook page videos of frequent GMF artists' performances (most recently cellist Hannah Collins perfforming Debussy's Cello Sonata with pianist Ellen Sommer at the University of Kansas School of Music) and links to GMF artists' performances on Classical 91.5 and elsewhere.
• In a Facebook message posted Wednesday, GrassRoots Festival founder Jeb Puryear of the band Donna the Buffalo announced that organizers, having consulted with public health officials, are postponing the 30th anniversary fest until next year, to run July 22-25, 2021. The annual Culture Camp (four days of instrument, dance and movement workshops led by area artists) also is postponed until next year, running July 18-21, 2021.
"What started as a benefit to support AIDS related causes, has transformed into an engine for expression, creativity, education and critically weighing the issues of our time. This feels like one of these times where all of this matters the most," Puryear wrote. "The GrassRoots Festival Organization is very grateful for generations of Music Lovers that have come together in this spirit. Thank you."
GrassRoots has evolved into a four-day festival at the fairgrounds in Trumansburg with musicians performing on four stages — a grandstand, a field stage, a dance tent and an intimate "cabaret" setting — with performers from dozens of genres, including zydeco, bluegrass, gospel, reggae, Celtic, rock and many more. Musicians have ranged from local and regional acts to such national and international artists as Taj Mahal, the Del McCoury Band, Lucinda Williams and George Jones, along with host band Donna the Buffalo. It also includes a plethora of diverse food and arts vendors, and stations for raising awareness and activism on a number of causes, plus camping on the grounds.
Puryear noted that for those who had already purchased tickets for the festival, their ticket and camping are still in effect for the 2021 fest with no action needed. The festival admission ticket will be good for any future GrassRoots festival (as well as its sister Shakori Hills festivals in North Carolina; request a transfer form at firstname.lastname@example.org); the camping passes will only be effective for 2021.
"The health and safety of everyone (our community, performers, fans, vendors & staff) is our primary consideration and supersedes everything else."
Geva launches podcast
Geva Theatre Center is premiering a weekly podcast called "Out of the Rehearsal Hall," featuring interviews with a variey of writers, directors, performers, artists and hosts. The first one was released Monday, April 20, fearuging Shelley Butler, director of Geva's world-premiere production of Lila Rose Kaplan's play "The Magician's Daughter," as well as more than 30 productions at theatres nationwide.
The podcast launch comes after successful streaming runs of recent Geva productions ("Once" and "Cry It Out"), plus the "Happiness Hour" events Geva hosts on Facebook at 4 p.m. each Friday.
According to a Geva release, in the first podcast, Butler talks about her career as a director, including the premiere of "Broadway’s Beautiful: in Japan. She discusses what is most exciting to her about regional theatres like Geva, how two theatre artists ended up driving an RV across country with a 9-year-old, and how she’s finding hope in this complicated time.
Upcoming episodes, released each Monday, feature Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder (playwright, "Looks Like Pretty"), performer Brian Quijada ("Where Did We Sit on the Bus?"), and theatre makers from around the country who are part of the Geva family of artists.
“Out of the Rehearsal Hall” is available on Apple podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Radio Public, Google Podcasts (Android), PocketCasts and Spotify.