New York State Council on the Arts
300 Park Avenue South, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10010
Contact: Ronni Reich
May 30, 2019

The New York State Council on the Arts Announces Upstate Festivals Advancing Revitalization, Building Community and Celebrating Diverse Voices

NYSCA Supports New and Expanded Music Festivals in the Capital Region, Buffalo and Rochester

New York—This summer, the New York State Council on the Arts will support new and expanded music festivals designed to spark economic revitalization and tourism, build community, and celebrate diverse voices in New York State arts and culture.

The festivals will highlight the rich history of the Capital Region, Buffalo and Rochester.  The Albany Symphony Orchestra will perform works celebrating New York State’s pivotal role in women’s suffrage and other important civil rights milestones.  The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will recognize the diversity of the city’s East Side with performances in the 1929 Art Deco Central Terminal,  and in Rochester the Gateways Music Festival will provide a hub for artists of African descent.    

These festivals were created with NYSCA support through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. NYSCA REDC support catalyzes collaboration among arts organizations and local businesses, inspiring the creation of unique events that bring together diverse local audiences and attract tourists to New York State. Drawing thousands of audience members, these events generate economic activity in multiple sectors and build Upstate New York’s growing culture industry.

“NYSCA is proud to support the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Gateways Music Festival as they showcase new voices in the arts and build upon local networks to create experiences that resonate with New Yorkers and travelers of all backgrounds,” said NYSCA Executive Director Mara Manus.

“We look forward to these three festivals, which underscore our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts and grow New York State as a cultural destination.”

In June, the Albany Symphony Orchestra will launch the Sing Out! New York tour of free concerts across the Capital Region celebrating New York State’s leading role in championing civil liberties, from women’s suffrage to Stonewall. In collaboration with local arts groups, municipalities, food and drink vendors and schools, the ASO will pair concerts with immersive street fairs and art-making opportunities in public parks and community spaces ranging from an amphitheater on the site of a former brownfield to a converted 19th century factory building. The concerts feature commissioned works by Clarice Assad, Loren Loiacono, Andre Myers, and Viet Cuong, all composers of backgrounds historically underrepresented in classical music.

The tour is part of the ASO’s annual American Music Festival and builds on the success of the ASO’s NYSCA-supported Water Music 2017 tour, which drew 23,000 visitors to Erie Canal communities.

In July, The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will spearhead the East Side Festival at the city’s iconic Central Terminal, celebrating its 90th anniversary and showcasing its renovations. East Side neighborhood businesses and cultural organizations will partner to show how a neglected building can be repurposed and used to spur economic revitalization. This festival will also celebrate the dynamic communities that have lived on Buffalo’s East Side through performances presented by the All City Youth Gospel Choir, Paul Robeson Theater, Colored Musicians Club, German American Musicians Association and the African-American Cultural Center and exhibits and activities presented by the Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Museum of Science, Olmsted Parks, Buffalo and Erie County Library and Torn Space Theatre. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will perform music reflective of the history of the East Side and the cultures that have resided there over the past several decades. Over the course of one day, the festival is projected to draw 5,000 visitors.

In August, the Gateways Music Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Rochester. The Gateways Music Festival brings together 125 emerging and established professional musicians from throughout the United States to perform at venues citywide – from its partner, the prestigious Eastman School of Music, to houses of worship, schools and libraries. Rare in the classical music world for its focus on artists of African descent, the festival serves both as a magnet for building new audiences and as a platform for generating employment opportunities for an underrepresented community.

This year, the festival will focus on music by Florence B. Price, the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major symphony orchestra, and will also include works by contemporary composers Renee Baker, Derrick Spiva, Carlos Simon and James Cockerham. For the first time, festival artists will also show off their talents in jazz, reggae, soul, hip-hop and gospel, further breaking down barriers to classical music and to festival attendance.

For 2019, the Gateways Music Festival received NYSCA REDC workforce development support to create a Program Manager position, enabling the festival to transition from biennial to annual. As the festival expands, it aims to attract more out-of-town visitors, increase activities in the community, and expand programs for youth. Over six days, the festival is expected to draw 7,000 audience members.

“Through inclusive, innovative programming, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gateways Music Festival unite and strengthen New York State,” said NYSCA Chair Katherine Nicholls. “These three music festivals highlight the power of creativity to drive local economies and transform communities.”

Festival Dates, Times and Locations

Sing Out! New York Tour

June 6-9, 5PM – 9PM

Venues include Hudson Crossing Park, Schuylerville; Jennings Landing, Albany; Mohawk Harbor, Schenectady; Basilica Hudson, Hudson

More information:

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: East Side Festival

July 13, 3PM – 9PM

Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo, NY

More information:

Gateways Music Festival

August 6-11, times vary

Venues include Eastman School of Music, the Little Theatre, Hochstein School of Music, Memorial Art Gallery

More information:

About the New York State Council on the Arts

The New York State Council on the Arts champions community and creativity by preserving and advancing numerous aspects of the cultural heritage that makes New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit.

NYSCA upholds the right of all New Yorkers to experience the vital contributions the arts make to our communities, education, economic development and quality of life. Through the agency's core grantmaking activity, NYSCA awarded $51M in FY2019 to 2,400 organizations statewide through direct grants and regrants in our 15 programs, the Regional Economic Development Council initiative and the Mid-Size Capital Project Fund. NYSCA funding supports the visual, literary, media and performing arts and includes dedicated support for arts education and underserved communities. NYSCA further advances New York's creative culture by hosting convenings with leaders in the field and providing organizational and professional development opportunities and informational resources.

Created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1960, and continued and expanded to the present day with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, NYSCA is an agency of the Executive Branch of the New York State Government. For more information on NYSCA, please visit:  

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