Daughter's music studio helps keep dad's legacy alive

February 27, 2018 05:46 PM

GREENFIELD - When a longstanding music festival in Saratoga County ended five years ago, it wasn't just the end of an era -- it was the start of some uncertain times for the family that ran it.

The patriarch of the family and the festival died and questions arose about what would come of the rural property that had brought music to the county for decades.


It was 1959, and Robert Conant of Chicago had an idea to start an early music festival -- baroque music -- not in Illinois, but in Upstate New York. After 15 years of traveling around the region, he built the festival a home in 1974 on Wilton Road in Greenfield, Saratoga County.

Robert's daughter, Elizabeth, remembers being uprooted from Chicago every summer for the annual music pilgrimage to Greenfield.

"It wasn't until I got older and had a busier life that engaged me outside of this area that I realized it was extremely special and I kind of wish I had been more present for it," she admitted.

Something took root though. She went on to have a musical career all her own. While mom and dad kept things going in Greenfield, she stuck it out in Chicago.

"When you're a musician, you wear a lot of hats. I mean, I played reggae bands after the Cubs game and that paid the mortgage. That was a really good paying gig," she recalled.

In 2011, with her father's health failing, The Studio in Greenfield - as it came to be known - celebrated the 50th annual Baroque Music Festival and the last.  Robert died two years later and within two weeks, a pipe burst in the studio doing heavy damage. Elizabeth had to decide if her dad's labor of love would become her own.

"It lit a fire under me. I had no option but to go forward. The place is flooded. It's time to roll up your sleeves and fix it. There was no time to cry, no time to be sentimental, just only going forward," she asserted.

Little by little, she fixed it up and in just the past year, music has returned -- though not exactly dad's music.

The old summer home for baroque music is now a year-round community arts center with an emphasis on giving young artists an opportunity and an audience.

"Don't have to have the skills or confidence to go to a large or professional venue," explained Elizabeth.

On Thursday nights, the studio hosts "Express Yourself," an open mic night where teens from around the Capital Region do just that.

The rest of the week ranges from things like the "Global Grooves Drum Circle" to nights for local filmmakers to premiere their work.

Celebrating future potential while maintaining a connection to the past -- it's a father's passion passed on to his daughter with a slightly different sound.

"That just tells me whatever we do in this space is fine," surmised Elizabeth.

The invitation to perform at the studio is open to anyone at any age.

More information:

The Studio in Greenfield website

The Studio in Greenfield Facebook page


WNYT Staff

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