GrassRoots Festival Orchestra

Cayenna Ponchione - music director

The GrassRoots Festival Orchestra has become a highlight of the annual GrassRoots Festival of Music and dance in Trumansburg, NY. Performing music from the standard orchestral repertoire alongside new commissions and contemporary works, it is actively engaged with promoting humanitarian and environmental awareness through its thematic programming.

At the Festival in July 2015 music director, Cayenna Ponchione, announced the launching of Sounding 2020 a commissioning project dedicated to highlighting current humanitarian and environmental issues through the generation and performance of new orchestral works. Read more about the project here.

In 2012 it was part of a larger initiative Water culture: women's work(s), premiering compositions by UK based composers Kate Whitley and Rachel Lockwood featuring the poetry of Gail Holst-Warhaft sung by Ivy Walz (read more about this concert here).

In 2009 in collaboration with Tabula Rasa (an Ithaca based organization dedicated to the performance of local composers' works), the orchestra sponsored a composition contest, soliciting works that highlighted humanitarian or environmental values. Of sixty-five submissions from around the world, Justin Merritt's work, River of Blood, was selected as the winning composition along with an honorable mention award to Amy Kazandjian for her piece Armemorium.

Past concerts have featured cellists Elizabeth Simkin and Hank Roberts, violinists Augusto Diemecke, Judy Hyman, Laurie Hart, Leila Nassar-Fredell, Thomas Collum, William Hurley, Max Buckholtz and steel plan player Mia Gormandy.

Works have been premiered by composers: Eugene Birman, Antoni Schonken, Tom Schneller, Max Buckholtz, Mer Boel, Sora Shpack, Justin Merritt, Amy Kazandjian, Kate Whitley, Rachel Lockwood, Judy Hyman and Fiona Dooley.