Celebrating classical music through advocacy


The Oyster Bay Music Festival is well known for its community of classical music lovers on Long Island. This year, members of the OBMF will share their love of classical music with charitable donations for Ukraine through this year’s overarching theme: Music for Peace.
“I think we’re all really affected by the war going on in Ukraine and the horrific nature of everything that’s going on there.” Pipa Borisy, festival co-director, said. “I think that’s been in our hearts.”
While the arts cannot defend  against war and violence, she said, it can remind us of our shared human spirit.
This year’s festival will feature several concerts with themes of peace, freedom, civil rights, and the brutality of war. The festival’s performers consist of Long Island musicians from ages 14 to 29. These up-and-coming musicians study at institutions such as The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Harvard, San Francisco Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music.
 Each concert showcases a diverse range of musical repertoire featuring vocalists, pianists, strings and wind players.

Festival attendees can also expect to hear a favorite piece — the “Bach Suites.” “There’s a lot [of music] to choose from, but the thing about Bach is that everybody knows the ‘Bach Suites,’ and it’s sort of a mix of being peaceful, intelligent and emotional.” Charlie Zandieh, an Oyster Bay resident and senior at Julliard, said.
This year marks Zandieh’s fourth year preforming at the festival, and he will also be performing with returning pianist Maxim Lando. The duo will perform a piece that contrasts Bach’s Suites — “The Rachmaninoff Sonata,” a denser work. Zandieh said it’s “a beautiful and technically challenging piece.”
The OBMF had its inception at Christ Church and First Presbyterian Church in Oyster Bay 11 years ago. Both churches reached out to music teacher Sarah Hoover, who then contacted fellow musicians Pippa Borisy, and Lauren Ausubel. The three agreed they wanted to provide opportunities for their students.
“The idea was to have them (students) preform as much as possible because they don’t always get that opportunity, and at the same time, bring something great to the community,” Borisy said.
After the festival’s first four-day event, Borisy the students found they were overwhelmed by opportunities to perform. Currently, the OBMF averages eight to 10 days of performances per year.
Last year festival coordinators expected a low turnout, not knowing if residents felt safe returning to in person events due to the coronavirus pandemic. Surprisingly, the opposite happened with venues asking people to leave to uphold social distancing guidelines.
“It’s such a great festival,” Glen Head resident Christopher Lau said. “It’s awesome to see classical music being taken out of more formal spaces and into free public settings where it’s more accessible, and to see these performances I love come to the community. “
Lau is currently pursuing his masters in vocal performance at the Mannes School of Music in Manhattan. This year marks his eighth year performing at the festival.
Each year more Long Island institutions request to be one of the stops on the OBMF concert tour. Concert venues for this summer include: Christ Church, Oakcliff Sailing Center, Raynham Hall’s new Education Center, Congregation L’Dor V’Dor, and Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor, African American Museum of Nassau County in  Hempstead, St. John’s Church in Huntington, and Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. 
For its 11th year, the OBMF will have 12 free public concerts and two ticketed events on June 27 at Cedarmere Estate in Roslyn and on July 2 at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay.
Borisy said many people want to donate to a charity to help Ukraine. She has been gathering a list of prospective organizations to receive the funds.
“We know a number of people who are there (in Ukraine) and so we’re working with a couple of charities that are there actually helping people,” Borisy said. “We have a list of a few places, and we haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do yet. I don’t think we’re going to bring in a huge amount of money, but we’d like to do something.”