Sunday, December 5, 2021

Bravo! to LG Music Fest for pulling it off

Chronicle Managing Editor Cathy DeDe writes: In a year when every small gain is hard-earned, and where the performing arts are madly thwarted in nearly any effort to put live entertainment before an audience in person, leave it to the Lake George Music Festival to pull it off.

‘Classic’ Drive-in — Cars lined up on the Festival Commons lawn at Charles R. Wood Park in Lake George Village, awaiting the start of the Lake Geogre Music Festival’s first-ever “Drive In” Chamber Music Concert on Saturday night. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

Mastermind, founder and LGMF president Alexander Lombard marked his classical music series’ 10th anniversary with a dual set of drive-in concerts on two frigid nights, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19 and 20, outdoors at the Festival Commons at Charles R. Wood Park in Lake George.

He is aided, as always, by his LGMF team, including artistic director Barbora Kolarova and Music Director Roger Kalia.

Great turnout on Saturday, the night I was there. There were more than 45 cars on the grounds, by my quick count, most with two passengers.

Ms. Kolarova was among the eight artists who took it on the chin — or maybe on the knuckles — this cold night. The artists did their best to keep warm and maintain a level of elegance in down jackets, with what I believe and hope were individual heaters at their feet. Maybe there were Adirondack long johns underneath the dresses and classy pants, but the hands or lips on piano, bassoon, clarinet and violin bow had little protection.

Cold weather — anything extreme — does a number on the instrument itself, which is a physical object, after all.

How the musicians fought that battle, while also fighting off the air temperature themselves, I can’t imagine.

And yet: The music was sublime, and they were lovely, not a frown of complaint to be seen.

The draw for us was Schubert’s famed “Trout” piano quintet, a lively and familiar piece, 40 minutes long. Also on the program, a brief and lightly jazzy “Fantasy” from composer Florence Price, written in 1940, and Beethoven’s Quintet in E Flat Major, a deep pleasure in a year when I’ve heard nearly nothing live since March.

You could listen by tuning in on your car radio. We chose instead the option of hearing the amplified music in person, through open car windows. Hey, if the artists could take it, so could we!

The crew — Frankie Cavone and his videographers, who kept the live stream lively; the sound engineers; tech support man Dave Ehmann; photographers; the signage; even the volunteers running the parking — all was top-notch.

This Covid year brings such sacrifice, but also memorable successes, people pulling together to think up new work-arounds and interesting alternatives.

I’m guessing the LGMF artists and crew won’t soon forget the sharp pleasure of their music cutting through the night’s cold air, or the unique experience of the crowd at the end of each piece indicating their pleasure by the rowdy honking of automobile horns.

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