Krannert Center Community Reunited with the Return of ELLNORA
By Sean Kutzko
Krannert Center welcomed the return of public, in-person audiences in spectacular style with the 2021 ELLNORA guitar festival. After over a year of disruptions due to the pandemic, the festival featured its hallmark level and diversity of artistry but on a smaller scale, prioritizing health considerations for audience members, staff, and artists. There was a palpable sense of joy as artists and attendees alike came together for the communal experience of creating and enjoying music. You never miss your water until your well runs dry, the old blues lyric goes, and every person who was there remembers how good it felt to drink from the well again. “It was like running through the grass with bare feet on the first warm day of spring after a long winter,” one attendee recalled. “There was a connection between the artists and us in the audience that was awe-inspiring. It felt so good to be back in Krannert Center and experience that again.”
James Quisenberry, a member of the Urbana City Council and long-time Krannert Center donor, expressed similar feelings. “Krannert Center has been a place of joy and rejuvenation for my wife, Jill, and I for many years, and ELLNORA has been a regular touch point since it began in 2005. The culmination of a return to life for us was the Joan Jett performance where the Tryon Festival Theatre was full again of people enjoying music together.”
The experience was an exercise in re-gathering–centering community health and safety while maintaining standards of excellence expected from an established tradition like ELLNORA. Krannert Center is a showcase of local and national talent–an important part of our community that lives at the intersection of arts education and cultural meeting place. As we welcome audiences for our 2022-2023 season, we continue to explore and formulate new ways to gather moving forward. We can’t wait to see you again.