LANCASTER – Last year’s Lancaster Festival focused on the past to commemorate 30 years of the Lancaster Orchestra.
This year, the focus is on the future.
With the theme “A Season of Premieres”, Lancaster Festival organizers promise all-new musical performances and works of art, during the 10-day festival that begins on July 19.
“Last year we played festival favorites,” said executive director Ken Culver, referring to popular orchestral performances and the return of the Beach Boys in 2017. “This year is brand new.”
Each piece performed by the Lancaster Orchestra will be the first time it is performed at the festival, Culver said. The theme will also be picked up in ArtWalk, which will feature all new and up-and-coming artists, especially pieces created by Ohio artists on display at the Georgian Museum and the Mithoff Building.
This year’s artist in residence is Kristen Canda, an art student from Ohio Wesleyan University, whose ten works of art were inspired and produced specifically for the festival.
Using oil and acrylic paints, Canda captured moments from the 2017 festival, including the downtown stage and performances at the Wendel Concert Stage at Lancaster University’s Ohio. Canda’s works will be on display at the Lancaster Fairfield Chamber of Commerce during ArtWalk.
“(Canda) was everywhere with her sketchbook for ten days,” Culver said of Canda’s reference sketches she painted later.
In keeping with the theme of “festival premieres,” new venues have been added to the venues list, including the Rock Mill Covered Bridge and the Rockside Winery and Vineyards. Deb Connell, who will take executive management on September 1, said the idea was to make the orchestra’s music accessible to everyone, which is why small musical performances are planned at both Lancaster Kroger locations this year. .
Planning for the final details of the 2018 festival is bittersweet for Culver, who is retiring at the end of the summer. Culver has worked closely with Connell to prepare her for planning next year.
While Culver has said he is still able to run the festival, he is stepping down to spend more time traveling, enjoying his 12 grandchildren, family and friends.
Even as the leadership changes, the mission of the event is unwavering. Connell has said she won’t take over with the intention of making any significant changes because the model built by previous directors, including Culver, works.
When Connell was appointed as the new executive director, she said someone pointed out to her that she was the first woman to hold the position in over a decade.
Connell said Culver has worked diligently to prepare her to take over planning for the 2019 festival, which will begin as soon as that festival ends.
If there are any changes or additions to be made, the festival team will only know after the season is over and the results analyzed in August. But for now, Connell has said she doesn’t focus on the changes, but just continues what others have achieved.
For more information on ticketing and timetables, visit LancasterFestival.org.