Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival – Overview

Back in July 2018 we went to the Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY.

The festival’s website describes it as follows:

The Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival is in its 28th year of hosting balloonists and vendors from all over the country. The festival’s history has evolved into a Hudson Valley tradition and has grown into a full weekend of activities, drawing tens thousands of visitors from all over the world. Some of the festival favorites are the evening Majestic Hot-Air Balloon Illumination Moon Glow, tether rides, and rides in the hot-air balloons throughout the weekend! In addition to 100 balloon launches scheduled annually, we offer helicopter rides, hayrides, games, live music, adult and children’s activities and so much more


It was a nice day, if a little windy, which turned out to be a bit of a problem since the balloon’s can’t launch if the wind is too high. Also we failed to understand that the balloon’s launched only twice during the day: very early (which we were too late for) and early evening, which meant that we had to wait around for about 5-6 hours (not a very attractive proposition since there wasn’t enough going on to keep us interested for time we would have to wait).

For a while it looked as if the balloon’s in the picture above would be the only ones that we would see. It turned out that this wasn’t the case but more on that below.

Taken with a Sony A77M2 and Tamron A18 AF 18-250mm f3.5-6.3.


Symphony concert and picnic – The Maestro

Maestro Russell Ger provides an introduction to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the opening of the second part of the concert. He did a wonderful job of bringing the music alive through his fine, enthusiastic conducting and lucid, imaginative and often humorous descriptions.

According to his website:

His broad repertoire spans orchestral, operatic, and choral music, which he conducts across North America and his home country. In September of 2016, Mr. Ger began his tenure as Music Director of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Here he conducts several subscription concerts each season, in addition to Family and Pops concerts.

As the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Brian Stacey Memorial Trust Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Mr. Ger became a candidate for the position of Assistant Conductor with the Queensland Symphony. Mr. Ger was also invited to participate in a special showcase with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, Mr. Ger was selected as one of four Finalists from around the world for the prestigious 2nd International Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprenticeship. The audition took place before a panel of experts headed by the great mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, and Chicago Symphony music director Riccardo Muti.

Mr. Ger has toured North America with renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, promoting a recording for Sony of Jewish art-music made in 2012. Performances took place at the Hollywood Bowl with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic before an audience of 10,000, and at the Barclays Center arena in New York for an audience of 6,000. The tour also drew full-houses at the Boca Raton Arts Festival, Boston Celebrity Series at Symphony Hall, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Long Island, and Toronto. A PBS Special aired in 2014.

As an enthusiastic advocate of new music, Mr. Ger has collaborated with many contemporary composers, directing the premieres of more than a dozen new works. Several of these partnerships grew whilst Mr. Ger was earning his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Boston Conservatory. He graduated top of his class in 2010.

Mr. Ger is a proud alumnus of Symphony Australia, the leading conductor training program in the country. Over the course of four years from 2004-08, Mr. Ger had the opportunity to receive instruction from notable international teachers while working with Australia’s top orchestras. Weeklong residencies were maintained several times a year with the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.

Mr. Ger is committed to nurturing the next generation of musicians. As conductor for the Norwalk Youth Symphony in Connecticut, he works with young musicians on a regular basis. He additionally serves as Music Director of the Park East Synagogue in New York City, where he works with the most highly esteemed living Cantor, Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. Mr. Ger is married to Kirsten Hicks, a wonderful Australian woman whom he met in NYC where they both reside.

To get a feel for Maestro Ger’s style take a look at his blog, which I can heartily recommend.

Taken with a Sony A77II and Tamron A18 AF 18-250mm f3.5-6.3.