A grassroots classical music festival is slated to return to Airdrie this summer bigger than before, with a series of concerts and interactive workshops held over the span of two weeks in August.
The return of the Windwood Festival follows the success of its first iteration last October.
Classical music duo, former Airdrie resident Tong Wang and her longtime friend Maitreyi Muralidharan, spearheaded the inaugural Windwood Festival in the fall of 2022, citing a desire to share their collective passion for classical music with the community.
The festival succeeded in its aim to celebrate classical music outside of a traditional concert hall setting, according to the musicians.
“I think we were cautiously optimistic walking into it,” shared Muralidharan. “We were excited at the prospect of people coming out, but we weren’t sure what kind of a turnout we would get. But every single concert had such an incredible group of people.
“We had people who were at the first concert come back to the second, third, and fourth, and then talk with us afterwards and give us hugs... it was amazing.”
The violinist added the final event, featuring a community barbecue and concert, was extremely well attended by both people and their pets, who sprawled out to fill the entire lawn outside of the outdoor amphitheatre in Nose Creek Regional Park.
“Overall, it was beyond anything we were hoping. The festival was so heartwarming how the community showed up and really celebrated what we love with us,” Wang shared.
The duo said they are excited to make their return to the community this summer and are preparing to do so with a series of community events, networking, and fundraising initiatives this month.
“Halfway between the previous festival and the next one, we wanted to come and do some mini events to spread the passion we have for this upcoming bigger festival,” Wang explained.
The mini events consist of presentations at local schools, including working with Grade 1 to 4 students at Nose Creek Elementary School to develop a musical story and “sparking curiosities,” said Wang.
Thereafter, the duo attended Bert Church High School, where they worked with the band students to share in their passion for classical music, and Cedarwood Station (an independent living community for seniors) to perform for residents there.
Public events include a salon concert and party hosted at Wang’s residence in the southwest community of Windsong on Friday, March 17 from 8 to 10 p.m. The event will feature drinks, food, conversation, and of course, classical music, to fundraise for the upcoming festival next summer.
Those interested in attending the salon event are encouraged to RSVP beforehand as space is limited to 25 attendees. Though, Muralidharan said the event is all inclusive and is welcome to anyone to attend.
“It’s very much a come as you are event,” they said, adding the event is a relaxed way to spend an evening out.
On Saturday, March 18, the classical musicians will be hosting a public master class working with young musicians that is free to attend, following by an evening concert and fundraising event at Atlas Brewing Company.
“In between all of these larger events, we want to spend time outside our instruments and music with the community,” Muralidharan said, adding residents should keep an eye on the festival’s social media page for updates.
“We’re gonna be at all the places we found to be our favourites from the last time we were here. We wanted to spend more time and have that connection as people and not just musicians with the community.”
The musician added getting to know the community personally is a core tenant of a festival that is centered on community.
“This time we want more of that interaction with the community, more time with the community,” shared Muralidharan. “You cannot just come to a place and have the community show up to you... we want to go to the people. That’s what it’s always been about.”