Upcoming Lancaster Festival Season Will Be Conductor Gary Sheldon’s Finale

The Lancaster Festival Board of Directors have announced the 2024 Festival season will celebrate its finale season with long-time orchestra conductor and artistic director, Gary Sheldon.

This season will mark Sheldon’s 37th year with the Lancaster Festival. Sheldon has been instrumental in building the Festival to what it is today, having founded the Lancaster Festival Orchestra in 1988.

Of the amicable, mutual decision between Sheldon and the Board of Directors, Sheldon says “I’m excited for the future of the Festival. Not just next summer, but many summers going forward. The Lancaster Festival is an American success story – the story of a community finding a bridge to all of its citizens through the arts, enriching lives as only music and the arts can do. It has been my pleasure and honor to have been a part of that story for the past 37 years.”

“Gary’s legacy will have reverberations for generations to come and his impact on this Festival and our community as a whole is immeasurable,” said Deb Connell, Executive Director, Lancaster Festival. “While it is definitely a bittersweet time, we are really looking forward to having an entire Festival season to celebrate Gary’s achievements and contributions.”

Under Sheldon’s leadership, the Lancaster Festival Orchestra musicians, coming from all around the country, perform symphony, opera, ballet and chamber music during the Festival at numerous venues throughout the community. Additionally, Sheldon works with the headliner artists each year to provide orchestra charts for their concert to allow the orchestra to accompany them. These artists have ranged from Broadway performers to Platinum-status country music artists to Grammy-winning pop and rock groups.

In addition to founding the Lancaster Festival Orchestra, Sheldon established the Festival’s Café Concert series, annual Family Concert and Composers Symposium. As well he created the Community Orchestra and worked to create the Artist in Residence and Composer in Residence programs. During the school year, the 300+ school visits he hosted have introduced thousands of students to the Festival, the Orchestra and some of the most talented young musicians and artists in our schools. He is equally proud of the young artist fellowship positions created in our Lancaster Festival Orchestra, which have helped spawn the careers of several renowned musicians including our new Concertmaster, Dmitri Pogorelov. Both he and the Orchestra were honored in 2010 as the first recipients of the American Prize for their recording of the music of Beethoven and Bolcom on the Marquis Classics label.

But the maestro counts as his favorite award, the Governor’s Award for Community Participation in the Arts, awarded to all of the people of Lancaster and Fairfield County who have participated in their own way to make the Festival the joyous celebration of art, music and community that it is today.

Sheldon continues his tenure as music director and conductor for Florida’s Miami City Ballet, regarded as one of the top 10 dance companies in America. As composer, he was recently named a finalist for the American Prize in Composition for his ballet score to “The Source,” premiered by the company in 2022.

A national search for a new conductor will begin in the coming months, and more information will be released as it becomes available at the Lancaster Festival website.


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By The Lancaster Herald

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