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2007 Events

Classical Music Festival at the Blue Frog Coffeehouse

There will be a Classical Music Festival at the Blue Frog Coffeehouse on Sunday February 11, 2007 from 1 5PM. Music will include Baroque and Classical, as well as Welsh traditional music and original compositions. Local professional, amateur and student musicians will present the music in an informal coffeehouse atmosphere. There is no admission fee, although it is hoped that listeners will buy a cup of coffee/tea or other beverage. The festival is being supported by a Decentralization grant obtained through the Cultural Resources Council of Onondaga County and by a grant from the New York State Music Fund that is being administered by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The Blue Frog Coffeehouse is located at 64 Main Street in Cortland.

The festival will begin with the Crown City Brass, headed by trombonist Mike Poole. Music will range from Handel to Holst and will feature: Mark Baxendell and Brian Shelley (trumpets), Mike Poole and Phillip Rumsey (trombones), Terry Martens (French horn) and Cheri White (euphonium).

New to the festival this year will be Ginger and Ralph Dudgeon (a professor in the Performing Arts Department at SUNY Cortland). They will be playing music for recorders, mostly from the 18th century, with Stephen B. Wilson accompanying on continuo. This will include trio sonatas by Purcell, Valentino and others. Dr. Wilson has been a regular participant in the festival series, usually accompanying vocal music. He has also helped the series in other ways by transporting chairs, music stands, portable stages and pianos.

Returning to the festival will be Lois Pfister (violin) accompanied by Marina Gorelaya (piano) in a program that is now planned to include the Franck Sonata, a movement by W.A. Mozart and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Anne Habermehl will present Welsh traditional music for harp and voice. Emmanuel Sikora, a sophomore at CHS, will perform some of his original compositions on the piano. Other participants (not confirmed at this writing) will be Maria Mucaria (flutes, piccolo, recorders) and Dave Richman (classical guitar).

This will be the first of the 2007 series of festivals, that now have the support of both a Decentralization grant and a grant from the New York State Music Fund. The brief history of the series began in the fall of 2004, when Katie Silliman, then working at the Blue Frog Coffeehouse, came up with the idea of "Classical Sundays", an opportunity for local classical musicians to have a performance space. The first festival in February 2005, was organized by John Sikora to publicize the weekly "Classical Sundays" or "Classical Open Mic" at the coffeehouse. From the beginning, the festivals enjoyed enthusiastic audiences, mostly due to the efforts of local professionals who volunteered their talents to the community. Having now obtained financial support for the series, it is possible to compensate the professional musicians for their effort. At the same time, the professionals provide an environment that students and amateurs can also feel comfortable performing in.

The relaxed, informal atmosphere of the coffeehouse provides a different perspective of classical music both for the audience and for the musicians. It is also an opportunity for children to get a taste of live classical music without the formality of a concert hall. As has been true in past festivals, the music is not all classical. In fact, some thought has been given to calling it the "Other" Music Festival, since the organizers work to include music that is generally less popular or less well known. This includes not only classical music, but several other styles as well as music from other cultures.

Details of the program can be found by following the "festivals" link at CortlandMusic.Org. On the same website, you can find some recordings of past festivals, a more detailed history of the series, and biographical sketches of festival musicians. If you have questions about the festival series or would like to participate in a future event, contact John Sikora at mail@cortlandmusic.org.