Friday, 03 February 2017 15:30

New SPAC President Talks NYCB, Summer Programming at Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Four months into her new job, SPAC President Elizabeth Sobol says she is learning the Saratoga Performing Arts Center has a uniqueness all its own.

One factor is the location of the venue - nestled among 2,200 acres in the state park sitting on the cusp of a culturally vibrant city, she says. Another is the relationship forged with other performing arts organizations during the venue’s 50-year existence which continue to deliver everything from the whirring pirouette of the ballet dancer, to the delicate air strike of the conductor’s baton and the amplified clamor of an electric guitar.

“Having traveled all over the world, all over the United States, all over North America and having seen festivals of all kinds, I’m here to tell you there is nothing like this anywhere in the world,” says Sobol, a classically trained pianist. She relocated to Saratoga Springs from Miami Beach last fall and will mark her first season at SPAC this year.

“Thinking about the programming, I listened to community voices about what they wanted to see this summer.”

The spectrum of responses offered an array of varied opinions. “Part of my job has been listening to those voices and creating something cohesive that would speak to different aesthetic desires and visions,” Sobol says.

This year, the New York City Ballet will stage 18 ballets by six different choreographers during their residency, from July 5 to 15. The Philadelphia Orchestra season, from Aug. 2 to Aug. 19, will feature a balance between the new and the traditional and include one piece not performed at SPAC since the 1960s. And the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will return to the Spa Little Theater with six concerts, from Aug. 6 to Aug. 22. The schedule of performers and performance pieces will be publicly released Sunday.

“One thing I wanted to do was also create mini-festivals within a festival. It immerses you in a sound, a narrative and a concept. In dialogue with the Philadelphia Orchestra, we created a mini-Russian festival, a mini-American festival and a mini-French festival. So, if you look across all our programming – the New York City Ballet, the Chamber Music Society and the Philadelphia Orchestra - you’ll see some of the same themes arising.”

Sobol also noted a new series titled “SPAC on Stage” to target young, musical genre-crossing fans and featuring several hundred audience members seated onstage. “What we’re envisioning is an experience that is intimate and extremely visceral and will feature artists unique and different than anything else that has appeared on the SPAC stage."

With pop concert promoter Live Nation, Sobol says there is an ongoing dialogue to maintain the delicate balancing act of scheduling dates at the venue between the pop and classical worlds. A variety of pop concerts have already been announced: Dave Matthews (two solo shows in June, sans band), Train, Nickelback, Dead & Company, and classic rock bills such as Foreigner/Cheap Trick, Rod Stewart/Cyndi Lauper, and Chicago/Doobie Brothers, among them. Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will be staged June 24-25 and will feature headliners Chaka Khan and the Gipsy Kings, returning artists Jean-Luc Ponty, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, a musical tribute to Ray Charles and more than one dozen other artists.

Responding to recent reports that President Donald Trump may severely cut or altogether eliminate cultural programs that receive federal funding such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Sobol says while concerned about potential cuts to NEA funding for the national well-being, it’s not something that will greatly affect SPAC. “We are being much more strategic about arts funding, but it’s not something that, if it goes away, it’s going to put us in a compromising position.”

 

*Note, an initial version of this story misstated the number of acres in the Saratoga Spa State Park. The correct number of acres is 2,200.  

 

Read 1580 times
Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Contact Thomas

Blotter

  • COURTS Charles B. “Chip” Locke, 44, of Porters Corners, pleaded guilty on April 12 to third degree grand larceny, a felony, in connection with the theft of funds from the Greenfield Home School Association. Locke served as treasurer for the Greenfield HSA and admitted to stealing approximately $15,070.70, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen. Locke is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8, during which it is anticipated he will be ordered to serve six months in jail and pay back full restitution to the Greenfield HSA during a period of five years of probation.      Clifford…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON SPA 58 Cypress St., $309,900. Heritage Builders Group LLC sold property to Kathleen and Benjamin Kalesa, Jr.  16 Saddlebrook Blvd., $454,549. Legacy Custom Homes LLC sold property to Brenda and John Thomas, Jr.  810 Route 50, $175,000. Kirby Burnt Hills Realty LLC sold property to RECKDE LLC.  37 Sycamore St., $360,000. Claudette Nealy sold property to Alex Varghese and Mary Pladocostante.  GREENFIELD 35 Southwest Pass, $253,000. Ramon Posada sold property to David and Omega Moya.  17 Rebecca Dr., $430,000. Steven and Suzanne Cousineau sold property to Daniel and Young Elinskas.  280 Middle Grove Rd., $335,000. Carol Hopper sold property…
  • NYPA
  • Saratoga County Chamber
  • BBB Accredited Business
  • Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association
  • Saratoga Mama