For the first time in over 12 years, Jazz at the Lake won’t be a part of summer festivities in Sylvan Lake. But jazz lovers needn’t fret, as several noteworthy events will take place in its absence.
Among them, and the biggest of a three-date concert series planned for Sylvan Lake and Red Deer over the next several months, is an outdoor concert on Aug. 15 featuring the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, the Dan Brubeck Quarter and Sylvan Lake singer Cheryl Fisher and saxophonist Eric Allison.
The event will provide a fitting replacement for the long-running Jazz at the Lake, according to Allison, who’s also chair of the festival’s board. And it will help ease the burden for the festival’s hardworking organizers and volunteers.
“We decided after careful deliberation and discussions with our board that we’re going to go on hiatus this year,” he said. “After 12 successful years, it’s almost become a full-time job to produce the festival … so we just felt we needed a breather.”
The concert series, which also sees an April 4 date in Red Deer and a May 26 date at a yet-unknown location, may require a lighter workload. But that doesn’t mean it will be in any way less momentous.
In fact, Allison assures the contrary.
“Dan (Brubeck) was one of our headliners way back in 2007, and just tore up the place,” he said. “He got a standing ovation after about the second or third tune with his band on the first set, and I’d never even seen that before. He’s a great guy and a very dynamic drummer.
“Then when the Red Deer Symphony contacted us because they didn’t want to conflict with our festival date, we started talking and figured we could do a collaboration. It will be like jazz with full orchestra. It will be way cool.”
A site has yet to be confirmed for the concert. The Pier and Centennial Park have been mentioned as possibilities, though both would require approval from their respective jurisdictions.
The concert will take place on the Saturday of the same weekend Jazz at the Lake would have been held. Whether the festival returns to its original format in future years isn’t yet known. But Allison couldn’t be more excited about its replacement in the interim.
“Our initial intention was to just completely take the year off and just to regroup and find out where we’ve been and where we’re going,” he said. “We’ve worked for 12 years on the festival, and to just go dark for a year just didn’t seem right.
“(The concert series) will be like nothing Sylvan Lake has ever seen before. It’s really exciting.”
Further information as it becomes available will be posted to the Jazz at the Lake Festival website at www.jazzatthelake.com.