LAKE GEORGE — Not all classical music is written by dead white men.
About 60 classical musicians have rolled into the village of Lake George for the eighth annual Lake George Music Festival, which will feature works by young composers as well as female musicians and composers of color.
“No one wants to go hang out with their grandparents,” said Alexander Lombard, the co-founder of Lake George Music Festival, which will take up residence in the lakeside community until Aug. 24.
Lake George Music Festival aims to take classical music off the pedestal, Lombard said, and make it more accessible.
The two-week musical event will boast a series of live chamber music and orchestra concerts, children’s concerts, open rehearsals, pre-performance workshops and other special events.
Lombard, along with his co-founders Barbora Kolarova and Roger Kalia, started the festival after attending music festivals around the world and seeing their enormous impact on communities.
“They bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy,” Lombard said. “It’s really a destination for arts and culture.”
Lake George used to be a haven for the arts, said Lombard, who grew up in Queensbury. American artist Georgia O’Keeffe used to work and summer in Lake George.
The festival is a collaborative artists retreat and a destination event, which boosts tourism dollars, he said.
“Arts and culture have that effect,” Lombard said. “They have a huge drive for tourism.”
Some musicians are invited to participate in the festival, while others endure a tough audition process that begins in January. Hundreds audition, and only 6 percent are accepted.
“The level’s very high,” Lombard said. “It’s based just on artistic merit.”
The first rehearsal is at 10 a.m. Monday, and the first concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Sacred Heart Church, 50 Mohican St.
The structure of this year’s festival differs from years past, Kolarova said. Each daily concert has a different theme attached to it, and the music centers on that theme.
Wednesday’s concert, “Bernstein at 100,” celebrates the centenary of conductor, composer and educator Leonard Bernstein with a program featuring many of his own works as well as pieces by composers who both influenced and were influenced by him.
Friday’s concert, “Back to the Future,” takes the audience on a journey through time, Kolarova said. The concert starts with a Renaissance-era Baroque composer and travels through the classical period, romantic and 20th century. The show ends with a world premiere of David Ludwig’s new piece for Pierrot ensemble featuring Kolarova on violin.
“Wine, Chocolate & Chamber Music at Wiawaka” is a new event created this year to take place at the historic Wiawaka Holiday House.
“Everyone likes chocolate. Everyone likes wine,” Lombard said.
A children’s concert featuring Paul Dooley’s “The Conductor’s Spellbook,” an interactive new work that teaches about the instruments of the orchestra and conducting, will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Shepard Park Amphitheater on Canada Street.
All the musicians come together at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 to form a symphony orchestra and perform the grand finale performance, featuring Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” and a premiere by composer Christopher Rogerson.
Lombard said people shouldn’t fear trying to find parking in the village. Most of the venues have large parking lots, so parking and traffic shouldn’t be an issue.
He looks forward to giving people an up-close and personal look at these classical musicians and the opportunity to change people’s perceptions about classical music.
“When you think of classical, whenever you see it in movies, it’s always the villain,” said Lombard. The classical music at the festival is not like an artifact found in a museum, he said.
“It’s hip,” he said, “and it’s current.”