LANCASTER – The Lancaster Festival isn’t for another five months or so. But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening at the festival office.
“We are currently working to ensure that all activities, classes and concerts for the 2022 festival are booked and we are securing contracts and bringing back our orchestral musicians,” said festival executive director Deb Connell. “So believe it or not, mid-winter is a really busy time for us.”
This year’s festival will run from July 22 to July 30. It will mark the return of most of the indoor events that the festival board canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are working on a full festival schedule,” Connell said. “We couldn’t have that last year, of course. We think things are going to be in a much better position this year.”
She said that includes the opening concert on July 21 at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church with an all-Beethoven show featuring local choirs and professional singers.
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Connell couldn’t reveal all the secrets of the upcoming festival, including the two Saturday events. She said all acts will be announced on April 4, when tickets go on sale the same day. Connell, however, said the big final act has been signed.
“We’ve increased our art budget to look at different artists that may have been out of our reach in the past,” Connell said. “And I think we’ve found someone you’re going to buy your tickets with pretty quickly.”
She said jazz musician Byron Stripling will return and play Monday night from the outdoor festival at the Wendel Concert Stage at Ohio University in Lancaster.
Two nights later, Elton Rohn, a tribute to Elton John, will make its long-awaited debut at the festival. It was originally scheduled to perform in 2020 but the pandemic canceled the entire festival. He was scheduled for last year, but would not have been able to return to his native Canada due to pandemic restrictions had he left that country. So he will try again this year.
“He’s a wonderful performer,” Connell said. “If you didn’t know that, you’d think you were at an Elton John concert. He’s so good. He plays the piano, he changes his costume. He’s very energetic.”
Some members of the Lancaster Festival Orchestra will also perform with Rohn. Additionally, people can pre-pay for a table at the tribute concert as they can at the Saturday events. It was a feature that debuted last year and will return this year.
Last year’s festival only featured half the orchestra in order to make room on stage for social distancing. But the full orchestra should return this year.
“So that means the return of a lot of those little chamber ensemble performances that we couldn’t get in last year that people really missed,” Connell said. “We have chamber music concerts at Krogers and Olivedale (senior center) and the Salvation Army.
“We’re just trying to flood the entire community with places to listen to world-class music from our orchestra musicians while they’re in town. Those, for the most part, are all coming back this year.”
The automatic festival raffle also returns. Coughlin Kia of Lancaster is donating a 2022 Kia Telluride and raffle tickets are on sale now.
Visit www.lancasterfestival.org for festival information, including purchasing raffle tickets. Raffle tickets can also be purchased at the festival office at 117 W. Wheeling St.