That’s not a mirage… it’s a musical oasis in the middle of Rochester’s frenetic downtown work week.
Tuesdays in July and August will be filled with tunes at Calvary Episcopal’s Oasis courtyard, where you can turn your afternoons into picnics with Calvary’s Lunch on the Lawn Summer Concert Series. Each concert is free, though visitors can choose to support the series with a donation. The performances run from noon to one, and everyone is welcome to attend.
Calvary Episcopal is the oldest church in Rochester. It was built in 1862 and designated as a Historic Site in 1966 by the Olmsted County Historical Society. The Oasis Courtyard is nestled within the stone and brick arms of the church. It’s a beautiful, green space filled with blooming flowers, tall shade trees, and a lush lawn perfect for spreading blankets and relaxing. Part of the appeal of this series is certainly its beautiful setting. While you’re relaxing at the Oasis Courtyard enjoying live music, you might peek at one of the church’s beautiful stained-glass windows. Several of them date back to the early 20th century, and four were even made in New York’s Tiffany Studio.
The live music presented for Lunch on the Lawn is very informal, and the event is perfect for families, patients, or downtown employees seeking a green refuge away from the office hustle. Currently, Amy Crockett and Kellie Mueller coordinate the series. “It has been a wonderful way to bring outdoor music to our corner,” says Crockett. The series “offers Rochester and its visitors that unspoken sense of neighborhood and community that is the ideal,” she says. “We can all benefit from an opportunity to experience any effort that reminds us of our common connection.”
The concert series has existed in various forms since 1987, which makes it one of the longest-running events in Rochester. Fr. Nick Mezacapa, the rector of Calvary at the time, initially conceived the idea of a space that could “offer spiritual relief” along with live music, and he developed it with Dr. Bill Charboneau.
This year, the series will offer a range of fun music, including everything from fiddle-laced songs to the sounds of the Irish bodhrán. The variety of genres will span from jazz to Americana. The first act scheduled in the series is The RavensFire Band. The trio includes vocal harmonies, the sounds of the Irish whistle, and even mandolin. Their music is playful and punctuated with humor. Melissa Schmidt, who sings lead on many of RavensFire’s songs, looks forward to playing at the series. “It is a magical oasis of beauty and relaxation in the middle of a busy and bustling city,” she says.
In total, the series will include seven concerts. In addition to The RavensFire Band, performers will also include Tony Cuchetti, Bob Schlief, Tiff and Tat, 2 O’clock Jump, Jaggedease, and Tim Dallman. Schmidt promises that the concerts are “guaranteed to refresh and revitalize your spirit for the rest of the afternoon.”