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Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 7:58am

The Savannah Music Festival: Celebrating 25 Years of Music In the Spring

Joseph Conyers is a bassist in the Philadelphia Orchestra. He performed April 2 in the Savannah Music Festival as part of a chamber orchestra lead by world–renowned violist Philip Dukes.

Conyers is one of the younger musicians in the group but as the only bass, he plays a huge part.

"It's really integral to everything that goes on. It's a role of great responsibility,” said Conyers. “Everyone likes to look at the violin, but if the bass player's out of tune or behind or if something's not lining up, it doesn't quite work."

Even in practice, it's clear everyone in the orchestra leads a life dedicated to music.

"It was really essential part of our lives when we were growing up” Conyers said. “The same thing that some parents did with sports, my parents did with music."

The Savannah Music Festival is a marquee event in this town, and it's not just for those with a classical ear.

Festival Chairman and GPB board member Harold Yellin says acts range from a like bit country to a little bit rock and roll.

"Unlike most festivals it's not just a jazz festival, it's not just a bluegrass festival, it's everything you could imagine all rolled into one."

This is the festival's 25th year.

Rob Gibson has been the festival director for almost half of its life. He says the event is designed to have a little something for everyone with more than 100 performances stretching over 17 notable days.

"I look forward to hearing music all day long from 11a.m. until midnight and I love music so it's a little bit selfish probably but I just love indulging in it all day long."

Gibson is already well into planning for the 2015 and 2016 festivals. He believes the event is turning the corner from being an organization to becoming an institution.

The Savannah Music Festival draws musicians and spectators from all over the world. Officials estimate 40 percent of the people at this year's event are visitors.

Harold Yellin says while this festival is one of the Savannah’s greatest prides, it’s far more than a local attraction.

“We want people to understand this is not a festival given by Savannahians for Savannahians. This is our chance to share springtime in Savannah really with the rest of the state and the rest of the world."

Joseph Conyers is doing his part to help the festival strike a chord. He says orchestra fans from Philadelphia are making the trip to see him and others perform in Savannah.

For Conyers, Savannah is home. It’s where he grew up. It's where he volunteered to usher at the symphony so he could see the shows for free and it's where he first picked up the bass.

"I always brag to my friends about Savannah and how beautiful it is. I've been very lucky in my career to literally travel the world and Savannah ,to me, will always be a special gem."