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Indian River Festival
Over its 24 year history, Indian River Festival (IRF) has been bringing the very best in classical, traditional, folk, jazz and world music to Historic St. Mary’s and has become an annual destination event for tourists and locals alike attracting 10,000 visitors each year.

IRF has received many accolades including a Music PEI Award for Achievement in Classical Music, several ECMA nominations for event and venue of the year, twice named in the Globe and Mail as one of the best small summer classical music festivals in Canada, and most recently, it was listed as one of the top summer classical music festival’s in Canada by CBC Music.

Historic St. Mary's, a stunning example of the French Gothic influence, was built in 1902. The architect was William Critchlow Harris and in addition to his professional renown, he was a dedicated amateur musician and as a result, he came to think of the interior of his churches as musical instruments on a grand scale.

The Harris trademark is the rib-vaulted ceiling created with pine, birch, maple, fir, and spruce that creates a resonance that shares a kinship with a violin. The chancel floor was supported by a single juniper post that replicates the sound post in a stringed instrument.

With a seating capacity of 450, it is one of the largest wooden buildings on PEI and was designated as an official Canadian Heritage site in 2012. Artists of all genres and audience alike are overwhelmed by the beauty of the sound and it remains the acoustical treasure that Harris envisioned.

In the 1970's and 80's St. Mary's was in a terrible state of disrepair and was under serious threat of demolishment. Thanks to the efforts of an entire community the "Save St. Mary's" campaign was started and as part of those efforts a small concert series called "Sundays in the Summer" was launched. These concerts proved so successful and paired with the commitment from businesses, individuals and parish, the repairs were completed and paid for within three years.

The concert series continued however and in 1996 Indian River Festival was incorporated as a non profit organization that has continually maintained a mandate to continue the restoration of Historic St. Mary's; to offer stellar performances in a relaxed summer setting creating an experience that is truly out of the ordinary; to create a sense of community through outreach activities; and most recently nurture and develop emerging classical musicians through education and artist residencies.

In a time when many magnificent buildings are being torn down or closed, there is added urgency to celebrate the efforts of an entire community dedicated to preserving its heritage and culture in this very special way.

The Indian River Festival celebrates its 25th season in 2020 and runs from June 4th - September 19th.