Vivo Music Festival Returns to Live Performances at Strongwater in Franklinton

Peter Tonguette
Vivo at Strongwater in 2018

Longtime friends Siwoo Kim and John Stulz are erstwhile Central Ohioans who have gone on to sterling professional music careers: Kim as a violin soloist in New York, Stulz as a violist with a new-music ensemble in Paris.

Yet there can be a certain coldness to performing in far-off locales for audiences of strangers. So, as co-founders and artistic directors of Columbus’ annual Vivo Music Festival, they embrace the rare chance to perform in front of hometown crowds. “For us, it feels like coming home to a family,” says Stultz, 33.

During the pandemic, Vivo continued in virtual form with a reduced number of musicians and livestreamed concerts. “It’s been quite an interesting year—I got really good at video editing,” says Kim, 32. But the format deprived them of playing in person for familiar faces.

Now Vivo is ready to return as a live event. The festival will open Sept. 15 at Strongwater in Franklinton and will include performances at the Columbus Museum of Art (Sept. 16 and 19) and Schiller Park (Sept. 18). Twelve musicians will participate in the core concerts, and at least 33 percussionists will fan out for the park performance of John Luther Adams’ immersive piece “Inuksuit.” Several premieres (including one commissioned by Vivo) will also be among the high points.

But the biggest highlight will likely be coming together again with family and friends on home turf after a trying year and a half. “People and music/art—two things that I love the most,” Kim says.

This story is from the September 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.