Photo submitted – Roger Kalia directs the Sounds of Our Time performance in 2016.

by Dave Warner

Tonight, the Lake George Music Festival kicks off its seventh year with the opening ceremony + dinner & dance benefit at 6 pm at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George. The proceeds of tonights ticket sales and silent auction benefit the 2017 activities, including the roster of over 70 talented young musicians who will perform during this two week festival.

Alexander Lombard has been the driving force in the creation and cultivation of the Lake George Music Festival since its inception. Lombard, who is a native of Queensbury, founded the festival in 2011 along with colleagues Barbora Kolářová and Roger Kalia. Lombard’s vision and work for the festival has helped revitalize the landscape in the Village of Lake George, and the festival is frequently described as the region’s 21st century “cultural renaissance.”

Lombard attributes the success of the festival this way “we’ve been very lucky attracting a suburb roster of musicians right from the get go, so that helped us get a very good reputation in terms of performance quality and performance level. Not only do the musicians like coming here because they know they’re going to play great music with great friends, and great chamber music and a great orchestra, the audience knows they are going to hear some really great concerts.”

The most interesting factor in the growth of the festival? “just the rate of growth and the speed. It’s year seven and I think now, gosh, it’s where I thought we would be in year 10 or 15 even. It’s grown that quickly. So, the rapid rate of everything has been just great, awesome,” stated Lombard.

Lombard went on to say that 2013 was a turning point, the first festival was just three days, the next one was a week and then it jumped to two weeks. “When you think about it, that’s a pretty rapid rate of growth,” he said.

Two years ago, the festival got a grant of $50,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts – an economic development council grant. That allowed Lombard to draw a salary and “overnight, it went from me being a volunteer position to being my full time job. That was a pretty shocking wake up call,” stated Lombard.

What can people expect that is new this year? “One of our chamber music concerts is on the roof of the new Marriott in Lake George. It’s a brand new venue, and as far as I know, it’s the first concert on that rooftop,” said Lombard, “it’s going to be an exciting night.”

What can we expect in the future? “Have this festival be more of a cultural destination, is what I want to see – so the next Stack or Tanglewood where it’s, yeah a great festival for the community, but we have people coming to Lake George specifically for this festival – it’s a destination. I think that’s what I’d really like to see happen and what we’re working hard for,” said Lombard.

There are a lot of diverse venues, great music and easy parking where tickets are not that expensive. “A lot of people may think of Lake George to have a certain character –  that honky tonk, Coney Island type place, which yeah, it certainly has that vibe to it. But I also want people to know this is a really serious festival that people should really give a chance to, even if they’re hesitant about coming into Lake George Village,” Lombard stated.

To find out more about the festival, visit www.lakegeorgemusicfestival.com. Art in the Adirondacks will be filming and documenting the events scheduled on the 20th, 21st and 24th.