July 2005 Issue
Sounds of Summer
A diverse palette of arts and music highlights the 21st annual Lancaster Festival.
First things first: Lan-caster is in Pennsylvania. While Ohio has a city that's spelled the same way, the natives call it "Lank-a-stir," and it's home to one of the premier music and arts festivals in this part of the country.
On July 21, the Lancaster Festival will kick off its 21st season with a full slate of artistic activities and live music covering a variety of genres at venues throughout the Fairfield County seat. As it has since it was formed in 1988, the 65-member Lancaster Festival Orchestra will provide the musical backbone for the nine-day celebration while showcasing its incredible versatility daily.
"Our musicians will perform a classical symphony one night, back up a country star like Randy Travis the next night and demonstrate their instruments at a young people's concert the next night," says Gary Sheldon, who's conducted the orchestra since it was first assembled with a collection of musicians from throughout the country prior to the festival's fourth season. "It's an outstanding orchestra that surprises everyone who hears it for the first time."
The aforementioned Travis will headline the 2005 festival, where he will perform selections from his extensive catalogue of country hits. He will join a long list of noteworthy artists who have made the stop at Lancaster's annual summer party.
Travis will front the orchestra for the festival finale July 30 at 8:15 p.m. at Ohio University-Lancaster's Wendel Concert Stage, which Sheldon calls "one of the most beautiful and acoustically perfect outdoor settings in the state."
Sheldon, who serves as both the orchestra conductor and artistic director, says the people of Fairfield County are the reason the festival has been successful for the past two decades. According to the festival's mission statement, "arts express the essence of what it means to be fully human." And, accordingly, the humans who reside in Lancaster are passionate about showcasing their community.
"It always amazes me to hear about how many people take their annual two-week vacation from work to donate their time to the festival," Sheldon says.
Staying true to its goal of exposing its visitors to offerings from a variety of cultures, this year's festival will open with an all-Russian musical program, featuring classical pianist Olga Kern, July 21 at St. Mary Church. Two nights later, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, while not actually Russian or brothers for that matter, will delight the audience nonetheless with their comedic juggling and dancing act. They'll take the Wendel Concert Stage at 8:15 p.m. July 23.
"Sunny Came Home" was a big hit for singer Shawn Colvin a few years ago. Chances are pretty good that she'll sing that catchy tune, as well as her interpretations of classic songs from the Beatles and others, when she performs July 28 on the OU-Lancaster stage. Singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor -- James Taylor's brother -- will open for Colvin. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m.
One of the more popular attractions each year is Festival Fair Day at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 23, families can enjoy crafts and games, a petting zoo, mini-train rides and an assortment of home-cooked meals. A puppet show, unicyclist and racing pigeons are also on the bill.
Overall, there are more than 70 events planned for this year's festival. In addition to the opportunity to see several concerts daily, you can sign up to try your hand at Italian street painting during the festival's first three days or satisfy your sweet tooth at an old-fashioned ice-cream social on July 21. Browse through Lancaster's galleries and shops during the Art Walk on July 22, 6 -10 p.m. Expose your children to dance, violin and other artistic endeavors offered through the "Major Arts for Minors" program. Want more? There's an antiques show on the 24th, wine tasting on the 25th and, of course, fireworks will light up the night sky on the 23rd and after Travis wraps up his concert on the festival's final day.
For more information about the festival -- including ticket prices, daily schedules and venues -- visit www.lanfest.org or call 1-800-LANFEST.