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Music And Maritime Heritage In Oyster Bay

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Dedicated to the art of performance and the revival of classical music as a vital part of community, Oyster Bay Music Festival trains talented young Long Island musicians to get out of the practice room and into the community to connect with their audiences. Building connections between aspiring performers, new audiences, and unusual venues, OBMF partnered this season with 14 different institutions within downtown Oyster Bay to create a unique collaborative energy between music-making and local cultural organizations and small businesses. Bringing chamber music and local oysters to the Ida May Project in a program featuring “Songs of the Sea” (with music ranging from Beethoven and Debussy to Pirates of Penzance) captures OBMF’s commitment to the institutions, history, and people of Oyster Bay.

Hosting a concert in Building J on the western waterfront was also an opportunity for the public to see the construction of the Ida May, a replica of a wooden oyster dredge of the same name that worked in Oyster Bay harvesting oysters for the Frank M. Flower & Sons company. She represents the first engine powered dredge, as opposed to sailboats like the Christeen. When she is complete, like the Christeen, the Ida May will be transferred to the WaterFront Center where she will take the public out on the water for enjoyment and education about the estuary and maritime history. The Ida May Project seeks volunteers and financial support to complete construction.

This evening of delightful synergies between music, oysters and traditional boat construction was a celebration of Oyster Bay’s maritime heritage, music that transcends the ages and the awe-inspiring accomplishments of dedicated young musicians.