Friday, 02 February 2018 17:54

SPAC Announces Summer of 2018 Season

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Saratoga Performing Arts Center will welcome home resident companies -- New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center -- and bring the National Ballet of Cuba for its first-ever Capital Region appearance in a vibrant, eclectic 2018 line-up that integrates great works of the classical repertoire with artist debuts and SPAC premieres. 

The National Ballet of Cuba kicks off the season with three performances of Alicia Alonso’s Giselle on June 6, 7 and 8.

The New York City Ballet summer residency – from July 17 – 21 - features four distinct programs including NYCB’s production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” an all-Balanchine evening, and a program showcasing four SPAC Premieres by 21st century choreographers - NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck, NYCB Principal Dancer Lauren Lovette and NYCB’s youngest choreographer, Gianna Reisen, among them. The annual New York City Ballet Gala, takes place Saturday, July 21 and will celebrate the centennial of the birth of both Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein, with a special Gala program dedicated to their works.

 “The interplay of tradition and innovation this summer is remarkable, with each program offering a completely unique experience for our audiences,” said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol, in a statement.  

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s three-week residency, from Aug. 1 – 18, will showcase two weeks under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who holds dual roles as music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and music director designate of The Metropolitan Opera; three new Thursday matinees -- including an afternoon of “Symphonic Shakespeare” led by Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève; and a new “Cinema Saturdays @ SPAC” all-ages series with the Orchestra accompanying the blockbuster movies “Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope,” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” A finale features a 20th anniversary screening of the film “The Red Violin,” projected alongside Joshua Bell, the original artist on the movie’s soundtrack.

Making their Philadelphia Orchestra and SPAC debuts are the Dutch “Piano Brothers” Lucas And Arthur Jussen and Canadian pianist Serhiy Salov; also making her SPAC debut is young, dynamic violinist Jennifer Koh in Bernstein’s Serenade. As part of the Orchestra’s finale weekend, superstar violinist Joshua Bell will appear with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. 

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center returns with a roster of internationally celebrated artists Aug. 5 – 21. Six programs at the Spa Little Theatre include “An Afternoon in Vienna,” and “An Evening in Prague.” 

NATIONAL BALLET OF CUBA: JUNE 6 – 8.

June 6 @ 8PM – Giselle

Giselle                                                               (Adam/Alonso)   based on Coralli and Perrot

June 7 @ 2PM – Giselle

Giselle                                                               (Adam/Alonso)   based on Coralli and Perrot

June 8 @ 8PM – Giselle

Giselle                                                               (Adam/Alonso)   based on Coralli and Perrot

Director of the National Ballet of Cuba and one of the most important personalities in the history of dance, Alicia Alonso is the leading figure of classical ballet in the Ibero-American sphere. Alonso's deeply humanistic interpretation of Giselle is considered the epitome of the romantic ballet tradition. Taking a French masterpiece based on a German poem, once best known through Russian interpretations, Alonso’s spectacularly re-created Giselle now defines the classic work.

Based on a fairy tale about a peasant girl who falls in love with a dashing prince disguised as a commoner, Giselle follows its heroine through a haunting story of betrayal, heartbreak, forgiveness and redemption. The title role of Giselle has been called “the ballerina’s Hamlet” and is regarded as one of the most difficult in ballet due to the intensely dramatic nature of the role as well as the physical stamina required to dance the lead throughout the full-length production. 

NEW YORK CITY BALLET: JULY 17 - 21

JULY 17 @ 8PM – All Balanchine

Square Dance                                                  (Vivaldi, Corelli/Balanchine)                       

The Four Temperaments                              (Hindemith/Balanchine)                

Symphony in C                                                (Bizet/Balanchine)

JULY 18 @ 8PM – All Balanchine

Square Dance                                                  (Vivaldi, Corelli/Balanchine)                       

The Four Temperaments                              (Hindemith/Balanchine)                

Symphony in C                                                (Bizet/Balanchine)

Known for his love of all things American, Balanchine joined the traditions of American folk dance with classical ballet in his work SQUARE DANCE.  Highlighting the dance forms’ common roots and similar regard for orderliness, the work is set to music from 17th-century Italian composers Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli.

Featuring a Balanchine-commissioned score by Paul Hindemith, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS is classically grounded but with definitively modern movement.  Performed at the first night of NYCB’s predecessor, Ballet Society, on November 20, 1946, The Four Temperaments had its NYCB premiere on October 25, 1948. 

Originally created for the Paris Opera Ballet, Balanchine’s SYMPHONY IN C sparkles with over 50 dancers in costumes covered in Swarovski elements featuring a spectacular finale with the full cast onstage. In 2012 Symphony in C returned to the NYCB repertory in a major revival with new costumes designed by Marc Happel, NYCB’s Director of Costumes, and lighting designed by Mark Stanley.

                                                            

JULY 19 @ 2PM – Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet                                                (Prokofiev/Martins)

In defiance of its tragic ending, Shakespeare’s ROMEO + JULIET remains the greatest romance of all time, demonstrating the power of love in its many forms. NYCB’s staging of this eternal classic, set to Prokofiev’s glorious accompaniment, features choreography by Peter Martins, sets and costumes by Danish artist Per Kirkeby, and lighting by Mark Stanley.

              

JULY 19 @ 8PM – SPAC Premieres: 21st Century Choreographers

New Peck (Spring 2018)                                (Bernstein/Peck)

Composer’s Holiday                                       (Foss/Reisen)

Not Our Fate                                                   (Nyman/Lovette)                                          

Pulcinella Variations                                     (Stravinsky/Peck)

GIANNA REISEN’S COMPOSER’S HOLIDAY premiered on NYCB’s stage at the Company’s 2017 Fall Gala making her – at age 18 – the youngest choreographer to create a piece for the Company’s storied repertory.  Reisen is a former student of the School of American Ballet and current apprentice with Dresden Semperoper Ballet, in Dresden Germany.

NYCB Principal Dancer LAUREN LOVETTE will showcase her most recent NYCB work NOT OUR FATE (Fall 2017 World Premiere) for its SPAC Premiere.  Her second creation for NYCB, the work features ten dancers and is set to three movements from composer Michael Nyman’s concert suite of music from his soundtrack for the Peter Greenaway film Prospero’s Brooks.

NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist JUSTIN PECK brings two works for their SPAC Premieres as part of the 21st Century Choreographers program.  Peck’s PULCINELLA VARIATIONS (Fall 2017 World Premiere) is set to music by Stravinsky with costumes by fashion designer Tsumori Chisato and lighting by Mark Stanley. His forthcoming work for NYCB, which will to premiere at the NYCB’s 2018 Spring Gala, is inspired by Jerome Robbins and set to a Bernstein score.

JULY 20 @ 8PM – Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet                                                (Prokofiev/Martins)

JULY 21 @ 2PM – Romeo + Juliet

Romeo + Juliet                                                (Prokofiev/Martins)

JULY 21 @ 8PM – GALA: Robbins/Bernstein Centennial

Four Seasons                                                   (Verdi/Robbins) 

New Peck (Spring 2018)                                (Bernstein/Peck)

Other Dances                                                  (Chopin/Robbins)

Robbins Tribute, Title TBA                           CREDITS TBA

SPAC’s New York City Ballet Gala will honor the centennial celebration of the birth of both Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein.  The evening will feature two of Robbins’ own celebrated works, as well as Justin Peck’s Spring 2018 ballet, inspired by Robbins and set to a Bernstein score.  The centerpiece of the summer soirée will be the finale performance and SPAC Premiere of a new piece directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Warren Carlyle, which will celebrate the Broadway choreography of Jerome Robbins and have its World Premiere at NYCB’s 2018 Spring Gala.

Set to Giuseppe Verdi’s vibrant melodies, Jerome Robbins’ 1979 work THE FOUR SEASONS, translates the seasons into frosty flirtation, springtime awakening, sultry revelry, and autumnal bacchanal.

Jerome Robbins was a great admirer of the Russian stars Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who each famously defected and made new careers in America. OTHER DANCES, a pas de deux created in 1976 for a New York Public Library for the Performing Arts benefit, was specifically crafted to display their legendary technique and artistry. Robbins chose four mazurkas and one waltz by Chopin, the composer whose piano music had inspired him for Dances at a Gathering. Other Dances, through its simplicity and virtuosity, pays homage to both Chopin’s Romanticism and the fluidity of classical ballet technique.

SPAC’s New York City Ballet Gala will conclude with the SPAC Premiere of WARREN CARLYLE’s TITLE TBD, which pays tribute to the legendary Broadway career of NYCB’s co-founding choreographer Jerome Robbins.  The ballet, set to have its World Premiere at NYCB’s 2018 Spring Gala performance on Thursday, May 3, will feature 30 NYCB dancers in a showcase of music and choreography from landmark Broadway musicals that Robbins was closely associated with during his storied career.  Featuring excerpts of Robbins’ original choreography, with staging and direction by Carlyle, the ballet will be set to music and lyrics from iconic scores written during Broadway’s golden age by such artists as Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock, Betty Comden, Morton Gould, Adolph Green, Sheldon Harnick, Oscar Hammerstein II, Bob Merrill, Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, and Richard Rodgers.  In addition to Carlyle, the creative team for the ballet will be comprised of a number of award-winning Broadway veterans including Rob Berman (musical arrangements), Jonathan Tunick (orchestrations), Beowulf Boritt (scenery), Toni-Leslie James (scenery), and Mark Stanley (lighting).  Currently represented on Broadway with his choreography for the revival of Hello, Dolly!, Carlyle received 2014 Tony and Drama Desk awards for his choreography for the musical After Midnight, which he also directed.

              

THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA: AUGUST 1 – 18

NEW! Thursday Matinee Series:

AUGUST 2 @ 2PM: Symphonic Shakespeare

Stéphane Denève, conductor

Walton                                              Selections from As You Like It

Berlioz                                               Overture to Beatrice and Benedict

Tchaikovsky                                      Romeo and Juliet

Mendelssohn                                   Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

As part of SPAC’s new Thursday Matinee series, Stéphane Denève will lead a “Symphonic Shakespeare” program of popular orchestral music set to Shakespeare’s most illustrious works. Pieces by Tchaikovsky, Walton, Berlioz, and Mendelssohn will underscore excerpts performed by guest actors of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, such as Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and As You Like It.

AUGUST 9 @ 2PM: Young Virtuosi: Carnival of the Animals

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Lucas and Arthur Jussen, duo pianos

Elgar                                                   Selections from The Wand of Youth

Saint-Saëns                                       Carnival of the Animals

Britten                                               The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS is a humorous musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Accompanied by accessible commentary, alongside projections of animal drawings submitted by local children, attendees are invited to follow each section of Saint-Saëns' classic piece while they listen. Young, virtuosic “piano brothers” Lucas and Arthur Jussen will perform alongside the Orchestra following their debut performance the previous evening.

AUGUST 16 @ 2PM: Captivating Classics

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

David Kim, violin

Choong-Jin Chang, viola

Rossini                                               Overture to William Tell

Mozart                                               Sinfonia concertante, K. 364, for violin, viola, and orchestra

Musorgsky                                        Pictures from an Exhibition

The final orchestra matinee of the season will feature DAVID KIM, concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and CHOONG-JIN (C.J.) CHANG, principal viola of The Philadelphia Orchestra, for an evening of “Captivating Classics.” Kicking off the afternoon is the festive Overture to William Tell, irrevocably remembered for its exciting final three minutes, which came to serve as the theme music for the Lone Ranger programs in movies and on radio and television.

NEW! “Cinema Saturdays @ SPAC” Series:

AUGUST 4 @ 8PM: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert

Justin Freer, conductor

Williams                              Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ (complete with film)

The concert will feature The Philadelphia Orchestra performing, live to picture, every note from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™, the first installment of the popular series. Audiences will be able to relive the magic of the film in high-definition projected on the big screen while hearing the live symphony orchestra perform John Williams’ complete score, which was nominated for a 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Score.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™, based on J.K. Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two wizards and possesses magical powers of his own. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he learns the high-flying sport of Quidditch and plays a thrilling “live” chess game en route to facing a Dark Wizard determined to destroy him.

AUGUST 11 @ 8PM: Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope in Concert

Constantine Kitsopolous, conductor

 Williams                             Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (complete with film)

Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope will be projected with The Philadelphia Orchestra performing live accompaniment of the iconic John Williams’ score. Since the release of the first Star Wars movie 40 years ago, the saga has had a seismic impact, inspiring audiences worldwide with its storytelling, characters, groundbreaking special effects and John Williams' iconic musical scores for all seven films. His score for 1977's A New Hope earned him an Academy Award for best original score. In Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker begins a journey that will change the galaxy, as he leaves his home planet, battles the evil Empire, and learns the ways of the Force.

The evening will be led by conductor CONSTANTINE KITSOPOLOUS, who comfortably spans the worlds of opera and symphony, appearing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Royal Albert Hall, and musical theater, leading orchestras on Broadway. Music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra, he also continues as general director of Chatham Opera (which he founded in 2005), serves as music director of the Festival of the Arts BOCA (a multi-day cultural arts event in South Florida), and was appointed artistic director of Oklahoma’s OK Mozart Festival.

AUGUST 18 @ 8PM: The Red Violin with Joshua Bell

Michael Stern, conductor

Joshua Bell, violin

Corigliano                          The Red Violin (complete with film)

The season finale will feature the 20th Anniversary of the film The Red Violin with JOSHUA BELL, the original artist on the movie’s soundtrack, performing John Corigliano’s score alongside The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Academy Award-winning film The Red Violin follows the intricate history of a beautiful antique violin that is traced from its creation in Cremona, Italy, in 1681, where a legendary violin maker (Carlo Cecchi) paints it with his dead wife's blood to keep her memory alive, to an auction house in modern-day Montréal, where it draws the eye of an expert appraiser (Samuel L. Jackson). Over the intervening years, the violin travels through four different countries, where it has a profound impact on all those who own it.

The Philadelphia Orchestra Season:

AUGUST 1 @ 8PM: Festive Fireworks

Stéphane Denève, conductor

Dancers from American Ballet Theatre

Rachmaninoff                              Symphonic Dances

Connesson                                    Maslenitsa

Minkus                                           Pas de deux, from Don Quixote

Tchaikovsky                                  1812 Overture

Opening Night of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s August residency will continue the new tradition of featuring Tchaikovsky’s famed 1812 Overture, complete with fireworks, live cannon fire and dancers from American Ballet Theatre, as the kick-off to the 2018 orchestra season.

The evening will be led by Principal Guest Conductor STÉPHANE DENÈVE, who has conducted more programs than any other guest conductor during the period since making his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2007, in repertoire that has spanned more than 100 works, ranging from Classical through the contemporary, including presentations with dance, theater, film, and cirque performers. Mr. Denève is also chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic and director of its Centre for Future Orchestra Repertoire, and music director designate with the St. Louis Symphony. He recently received his third Diapason d’Or of the Year award with the Brussels Philharmonic for the Deutsche Grammophon release Pour sortir au jour, was shortlisted in 2012 for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year award, and won the prize for symphonic music at the 2013 International Classical Music Awards.

AUGUST 3 @ 8PM: The Planets -- An HD Odyssey

Kensho Watanabe, conductor

Theofanidis                       Rainbow Body

Sibelius                               Night Ride and Sunrise

Holst                                   The Planets (including images from NASA)

Film by Duncan Copp

Commissioned by the Houston Symphony

In Cooperation with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratories

In this unprecedented multimedia event, The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform The Planets from the HD Odyssey film series, featuring images of NASA’s exploration of the solar system brought to life in vivid form with the orchestra’s performance of Holst’s exciting, cosmic score.

The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. 

The program has received international acclaim by publications such as The New York Times, stating, “The images in the movie, produced and ¬directed by Duncan Copp, were often ¬astonishing. ¬Photographs from rovers and satellites, radar images and ¬computer-generated ¬graphics were combined to give the audience the impression of circling individual planets and sometimes ¬flying over their awesomely barren landscapes...There is, of course, a ¬film-score-like quality to the music, and combining it with imagery has been done ¬before, though not to my mind with such sophistication.”

AUGUST 8 @ 8PM: Mozart & Mahler

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Lucas and Arthur Jussen, duo pianos

Janai Brugger, soprano

Mozart                                Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365

Mahler                                Symphony No. 4

Internationally recognized Dutch piano duo LUCAS AND ARTHUR JUSSEN will perform at SPAC and with The Philadelphia Orchestra for the first time. Already a sensation from New York to Shanghai, the brothers are in their early twenties and are known for their ability to perform virtuosic repertoire with panache. Lucas and Arthur Jussen’s debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring compositions of Beethoven, won the "Edison Klassiek Publieksprijs Audience Award."

Montréal-native YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN, “the greatest generator of energy on the international podium,” according to The Financial Times, will lead The Philadelphia Orchestra in Saratoga for two weeks, his longest SPAC residency to date. Named Musical America’s 2016 “Artist of the Year,” Yannick renewed his contract with the Orchestra in 2016, committing to lead the ensemble at least through the 2025-26 season, an extraordinary and significant long-term commitment. Additionally, he is the Music Director Designate of The Metropolitan Opera and in 2020, will become the third music director in the storied company’s history. 

Soprano JANAI BRUGGER, the 2016 winner of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award, and one of Opera News’ top 25 “brilliant young artists” will perform in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with The Philadelphia Orchestra. 

AUGUST 10 @ 8PM: All Bernstein: Celebrating 100 Years

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Jennifer Koh, violin

Guest singers from the Broadway stage

Bernstein                           Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront

Bernstein                           Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp, and Percussion

Bernstein                           Scenes from West Side Story

Bernstein                           Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin pay homage to the birth centennial of the composer-conductor with an ALL-BERNSTEIN program featuring an orchestral suite from his only film score, On the Waterfront; the Serenade featuring violinist JENNIFER KOH; and scenes from West Side Story. Making her SPAC debut, Jennifer Koh, Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year, is recognized for her intense, commanding performances. Collaborating with artists of multiple disciplines, she has premiered more than 60 works written especially for her.

AUGUST 15 @ 8PM: The Orchestra Unleashed!

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor           

Serhiy Salov, piano

Strauss                                               Don Juan

Rachmaninoff                                  Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, for piano and orchestra

Bartók                                                Concerto for Orchestra

Born into the exceptional pianistic tradition of the Ukraine, SERHIY SALOV is recognized as an outstanding pianist, whose playing is both energetic and imbued with sensitivity. Salov, who will be making his SPAC and Philadelphia Orchestra debuts, is Artist-in-Residence at the Orchestre Métropolitain.

AUGUST 17 @ 8PM: Joshua Bell with The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Joshua Bell, violin

Dvořák                                               Otello Overture

Bruch                                                 Violin Concerto No. 1

Tchaikovsky                                      Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”)

Returning to SPAC for two encore performances is celebrated violinist JOSHUA BELL. With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, he will perform two closing evenings including an August 17 program highlighted by Bruch’s ravishing Violin Concerto No. 1.

THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER: AUGUST 5 - 21

AUGUST 5 @ 3PM: In the Old Style

Schnittke             Suite in Old Style for Violin and Piano

Shostakovich      Quintet in G minor for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, Op. 57

Beethoven          Quartet in C-sharp minor for Strings, Op. 131

Gilles Vonsattel, Piano; Nicolas Dautricourt, Violin;

Schumann Quartet: Erik Schumann, Violin; Ken Schumann, Violin; Liisa Randalu, Viola; Mark Schumann, Cello

In this program, CMS presents three works written by composers at times when they were examining and transforming their own unique styles -- sometimes inspired from the old, sometimes searching for the new, but always in an effort to share their own voice.

AUGUST 7 @ 8PM: Summer Warmth

Haydn                   Trio in A major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Hob. XV:18

Dvorák                 Quartet in E-flat major for Strings, Op. 51

Schubert              Quintet in A major for Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass, D. 667, Op. 114

Gilles Vonsattel, Piano; Wu Han, Piano; Nicolas Dautricourt, Violin; Joseph Conyers, Double Bass

Schumann Quartet: Erik Schumann, Violin; Ken Schumann, Violin; Liisa Randalu, Viola; Mark Schumann, Cello

CMS’s Summer Warmth program is highlighted by Haydn’s serene Trio in A major and Dvořák’s bohemian inspired Op. 51 String Quartet. Closing the evening is Schubert’s beloved “Trout” quintet, a masterpiece composed for friends, based on a song about a fish.

AUGUST 12 @ 3PM: An Afternoon in Vienna

Haydn                   Trio in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Hob. XV:29

Schubert              Fantasie in F minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 940, Op. 103

Kreisler                 Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta for Violin and Piano

Schubert              Octet in F major for Winds and Strings, D. 803, Op. 166

Gilbert Kalish, Piano; Wu Han, Piano; Alexander Sitkovetsky, Violin; Arnaud Sussmann, Violin; Yura Lee, Violin/Viola; David Finckel, Cello; Clive Greensmith, Cello; Joseph Conyers, Double Bass; Ricardo Morales, Clarinet; Daniel Matsukawa, Bassoon; Jennifer Montone, Horn

Viennese composers Franz Schubert and Fritz Kreisler are showcased in this program with their hometown-inspired masterpieces, while Austrian-born Joseph Haydn contributes a trio full of character and impeccable technique.  

AUGUST 14 @ 8PM: An Evening in Prague

Dvorák                 Terzetto in C major for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 74

Janáček                Presto for Cello and Piano

Suk                       Quartet in A minor for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 1

Dvorák                 Trio in F minor for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 65

Gilbert Kalish, Piano; Wu Han, Piano; Alexander Sitkovetsky, Violin; Arnaud Sussmann, Violin; Yura Lee, Viola; David Finckel, Cello; Clive Greensmith, Cello

Nationalist composer Dvořák rose to fame in Prague, paving the way for his student and later son-in-law Josef Suk, as well as the highly original Leoš Janáček, who dedicated a number of his works to Dvořák.  This program will transport the listener to those cobbled streets of the old town and back to an era when music served as the voice of the Czech people.

AUGUST 19 @ 3PM: Timeless Masterworks

Mozart                 Trio in E-flat major for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, K. 498, “Kegelstatt”

Lobos                   Assobio A Játo (The Jet Whistle) for Flute and Cello

Mackley               Micro-Concerto for Solo Percussion, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano

Schumann           Quartet in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 47

Alessio Bax, Piano; Sean Lee, Violin; Matthew Lipman, Viola; Mihai Marica, Cello; Tara Helen O’Connor, Flute; Romie De Guise-Langlois, Clarinet; Ayano Kataoka, Percussion

This program features timeless pieces ranging from Mozart’s day, when the clarinet was just becoming a solo instrument, to the late 20th century, when works such as this program’s effervescent Micro-concerto by Steve Mackey offer an astounding variety of percussion instruments.

AUGUST 21 @ 8PM: The Composer’s World

Debussy                              Sonata for Cello and Piano (1915) 

Stravinsky                          Petrushka for Piano, Four Hands

Brahms                               Quartet No. 1 in G minor for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 25

Alessio Bax, Piano; Lucille Chung, Piano; Wu Han, Piano; Sean Lee, Violin; Matthew Lipman, Viola; David Finckel, Cello; Mihai Marica, Cello

The Composer’s World on August 21, invites audiences to experience Debussy’s fanciful cello sonata, Stravinsky’s exotic imagination through his milestone ballet about a puppet, and Brahms’s ceaseless internal struggle for musical perfection through his intensely emotional Piano Quartet No. 1. 

Tickets will be available at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 in a wide range of prices. For more information, go to: www.spac.org.

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 26 January 2018 15:31

Performance Announcements

Return of the Dead

Dead & Company, featuring Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer and Bob Weir with Oteil Burbridge & Jeff Chimenti will stage a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on June 11. Tickets are $149.50, $99.50, $75.50, lawn - $45, and are available online at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com or Charge By Phone at 1-800-745-3000.

      

SPAC to Host Quintet of Country Music Concerts

Promoter Live Nation has announced five country music concerts that will be staged at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer, and sales of a “2018 Country Megaticket” that will allow fans to attend all five shows.

The concerts include: Keith Urban with Kelsea Ballerini on June 27; Rascal Flatts on July 7; Jason Aldean with Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina on July 15; Dierks Bentley with Brothers Osborne and Lanco on Aug. 5, and Luke Bryan with Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen on Aug. 19.

The Megaticket sale begins Friday, Jan. 26 and goes through Feb. 24, and is as follows: Gold: $695 – Secure the same reserved seat to all five shows in sections 1-7 or 15-18 plus get one premier parking pass per show, per pair. Silver: $450 – secure the same reserved seat to all five shows in sections 8-14 or 19-30; Lawn:  $159 – spend an evening on the lawn with a ticket to all five shows. Tickets available at Megaticket.com. Shows will go on sale individually at later dates. Ticket subject to service charges.

 

Kuinka Performs at Caffe Lena Saturday          

Pacific Northwest band Kuinka performs at Caffe Lena 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 in advance of a 17-city tour through the western states. The dynamic string band’s new EP, “Stay Up Late,” will be released June 2. Tickets to the local show are $18 general admission, $16 members and $9 students and kids.

 

Funkadelic George Clinton Coming to the Mountaintop for 3-Day Fest

George Clinton, Sturgill Simpson, Alt-J, and Jack Johnson lead a musical cast of dozens slated to perform at this year’s three-day Mountain Jam concert, June 15-17, on Hunter Mountain.  

Mountain Jam will also feature yoga events, an Awareness Village with exhibits from not-for-profit organizations and a children's activity tent (those under 10 are admitted for free with a paid adult). Other activities include a Sky Ride offering scenic views of the Catskill Mouintains and North America's longest, highest zipline.

A three-day general admission pass is $184; a three-day pass with campground access is $219. For more information, go to: http://mountainjam.com/.  

 

Avant Folk Duo Bringing Sound and Verse to Saratoga and Schenectady

Billed as an “avantgarde folk duo,” and sporting impeccable influences that run the gamut from Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk to Patti Smith, Anna & Elizabeth will be stage a show at Taylor Music Center at Union College on Feb. 23 and at Caffe Lena on April 20. The duo will performs new music from their upcoming Smithsonian Folkways debut, “The Invisible Comes to Us,” which is out March 30. Tickets for the Caffe Lena show are $22 general admission/ $ 20 members, and $11 students and kids.  

 

The Championship Tour at SPAC

Kendrick Lamar with special guests: Schoolboy Q, Sza, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, Sir, Lance Skiiwalker and Zacari, will perform at SPAC June 9. Tickets are $125, $89.50, $49.50, $39.50, lawn $35 and available online at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com or Charge By Phone at 1-800-745-3000.

 

Sawyer Fredericks to Perform Sunday on Live TV Fundraiser

ALBANY - Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks will perform live during the #518Gives televised fundraiser to benefit the Center for Disability Services on Sunday, Jan. 28.

Fredericks is scheduled to appear at 5:40 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the broadcast airs from noon to 7 p.m. from the Radisson Hotel Albany, 205 Wolf Road, in Colonie. The all live, all local show airs on WXXA/FOX23 (cable channel 8, or check listings). All proceeds support the Center and its divisions, Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center, Life Quality Solutions Incubator, Prospect Center in Queensbury and St. Margaret’s Center in Albany.

The Center is celebrating 76 years of service to the community in 2018 and offers opportunities for achievement, hope and innovation to people with disabilities and their families. Text 518Gives to 41444 to donate or give online at www.cfdsny.org. Call 518-459-7070 to make a pledge that day to benefit the Center. For more information, search #518Gives, or go to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @cfdsny.

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Rochmon Record Club continues its successful monthly run at Caffe Lena on Tuesday, Dec. 19, this time with a focus on the music and career of Tom Petty.  

Some fading notebook scribbles related to live appearances witnessed by this reporter, to get you in the mood:

 

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, August 2006 --- In the end, Tom Petty finished where he began, completing the circle of a 30-year career with a final stroke on his jangling guitar to the tune of “'American Girl.”

Thirty years ago, the youthful face of the singer stared back from his debut album, donning a black leather motorcycle jacket beneath the logo of a guitar shooting through a heart like a broken arrow. Sunday night, Petty returned as the musical maestro of the timeless verse, adorned in crushed velvet with glitter speckles and caught in the reflection of the floodlights that sprayed the crowd in crimson and lavender neon.

With the word out that this summer's tour may be the band's last large cross-country journey, there was a touch of finality in the air at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where a sell-out crowd of 25,000 cheered Petty and his band of Heartbreakers through a 19-song set celebrating their decades of musical service.

 

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, August 2005 --- Wearing a schoolboy smile and a multi-colored ascot that invoked the mod Carnaby Street pop-isms of his teenage years, Tom Petty clutched the neck of his white tear-shaped guitar and led his band of Heartbreakers through a rousing two-hour set at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saturday night.

Petty's onstage exuberance was reciprocated by a joyous gathering of nearly 25,000 fans, while breathing new life into 1970s material “Breakdown,” “Listen To Her Heart,” and “Refugee,” revisiting drive-time radio hits “'I Won't Back Down,” and “Free Fallin,'” and ratcheting up the sonic intensity beneath the lighted effects of the white-hot strobes with a hit parade that included “Learning To Fly,” “Mary Jane's Last Dance,” and “Don't Come Around Here No More.”

 

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, July 2002 --- For a quarter of a century, Petty has weaved the poetic language of the common man with a sonically jangled surrealism, along the way acquiring star-power leverage to do battle with record labels, concert promoters and music publishers, and championing the rights of fans and fellow musicians.

His name has been engraved on a five-point star on Hollywood Boulevard, and he was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not bad for an insurance salesman's son who grew up in Gainesville, Florida who left high school to pursue his vision of the American dream.

Friday night, performing on the fifth date of a summerlong tour, Petty tore through the set opener ''Runnin' Down A Dream,'' flashing his pearly whites at the mic. “'It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down,'' he sang, amid the arsenal of guitar riffs behind him, ''I felt so good, like anything was possible.''

With the backdrop projecting images of falling snow, Petty sang, ''Please shed some light on the road less traveled,'' in a piece titled ''Lost Children,'' as the stage resembled a scene inside a tumbling Christmas snow globe. Haunting melodies oozed from within during his tune ''It's Good To Be King,” and Petty donned a Rickenbacker guitar for the show-closing ''American Girl,'' giving birth to a jangling resonance which hung in the dense air long enough to inspire one last primal dance from the faithful. Eventually, they filed out to rejoin the rest of the world, taking the vibration of its memory far as they could with them into the night.

 

Palladium, New York City, July 1978 --- “Breakdown” is a nice song. Moody, like Mink DeVille. “I Need To Know,” from the new album, kicks it well enough for a boy from the sticks, ‘tho not as kicking as, say, The Ramones. A slew of obligatory ‘60s covers dotted the night and the highlight was, of course, “American Girl,” which sounds like a tune Petty lifted from Roger McGuinn’s mojo.

Rick Derringer opened the show. He was fine, though not nearly as entertaining as when he played with Edgar Winter Group a few years back. Ted Nugent came on to play a song or two, which signaled most everyone it was a good time for a bathroom break. Ran into David Johansen in the art-deco bathroom downstairs. His new solo album is great and he’s playing the Bottom Line next weekend with Sylvain.  Somebody said Warhol is here, up in the front somewhere.  

Tuesday’s event begins at 7 p.m., although if last month’s sold out celebration of Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells A Story” is any indication, you want to get there early, or you’re likely to get shut out.  Doors open at 6:30. Admission: $5 donation, which goes to the restoration funds of Caffe Lena and Universal Preservation Hall.  

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Tabla player Ballu Khan sat at center stage, thwonk-ing jubilant beats, breaking into contagious smiles and commanding the center of attention Monday night at SPAC’s Little Theater where the Sachal Ensemble staged their Saratoga premiere.

The ensemble, perhaps best known for their role in the 2015 film “Song of Lahore,” was created by Pakistani investor and philanthropist Izzat Majeed. The “music-mad millionaire” – as a 2014 NPR interview referred to him – joined the Lahore-based group onstage for a curtain call. 

The eight-piece ensemble, making their debut U.S. tour, performed a 70-minute set, re-imagining western based crowd-pleasers such as Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme,” and the jazz standard “Take Five” – first and most famously performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet more than a half-century ago. A rendition of French composer Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind” was emotionally stirring.  

But it was the band’s own personal creations, imbued with syncopated dives, synchronous ascensions and a melodic sweetness that best ratcheted-up the sonic intensity.  "Taxali Gate" – written about one of the gates of the old medieval Walled City of Lahore, and “Shalimar,” inspired by the garden complex located in the Pakistan metropolis known as the city of gardens, were the best of these.

Khan’s tabla playing was collaboratively paired with the player of a double-headed hand-drum – called a dholak; the duo’s percussive resonance augmented by the bow-ing of a violin, the tinklings of a grand piano, and the gentle pluckings of a sunburst Gibson Les Paul.

Well-placed accents were delivered by the multi-layered string arrangements of a sarangi - a small, box-shaped string instrument bowed with one hand and noted by fingers across the fret-board with the other. A flutist provided melodic accompaniment, occasionally infiltrated with short tonal flares reminiscent of the stylings of Roland Kirk - all of it held together by the foundation-clang of the beat-keeping bells. 

Greeted warmly by a large audience inside the theater the ensemble’s performance was a poignant reminder, for those who may have forgotten, of the collective power of music to erase geographic borders, melt cultural differences and served to transcend the musicians’ struggle to keep music alive under the auspices of a conservative Islamic regime in their native Pakistan, where music of a non-religious nature is discouraged.

Sachal%20Ensemble%20#5%20(-¬%20Sachal%20Studios)_preview.jpeg.jpg

Tabla player Ballu Khan. Photo provided. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a year of new things for the most part at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Elizabeth Sobol’s first at the helm of the organization, initiating partnerships with arts-based collaborators in the region, introducing a series of inaugural concert events, and reviving long-dormant pieces of the organization’s past. And more changes are on the way.  

At its Oct. 12 meeting, SPAC’s Board of Directors voted to condense the New York City Ballet season to seven performances, down from its 11-day residency in each of the past three seasons - which featured 12 to 14 performances during that period. The 2018 NYCB season will more closely align with 2013 and 2014 models.

Mathematically, 80 percent of New York City Ballet ticket buyers purchase tickets to only one performance, and 11 percent buy tickets to two performances, Sobol said. Only the remaining 9 percent purchase tickets to 3-plus NYCB shows.

“The Board felt that taking on another $1 million-plus shortfall on the New York City Ballet residency, was not prudent,” explained SPAC’s president and CEO. 

“A big thrust of our efforts will be towards converting one-time buyers to multiple-performance buyers.  Consolidating the audiences into one week will help with that,” Sobol said. “Historically, when we reduce the number of performances, nightly attendance numbers go up.  Having fuller houses and the increased energy and excitement which accompanies that helps create more demand for tickets.”

Much as was done in prior years – the National Ballet of China visited the venue in 2015 and the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Bolshoi Ballet staged shows the previous summer - the NYCB dance season will be augmented by additional performances by an international dance company, not yet revealed. Discussions are currently being held with the National Ballet of Cuba for multiple performances in the summer of 2018.

“SPAC certainly remains committed to the residency and our long-term partnership with NYCB,” Sobol said. “Looking ahead to 2018, we will be working to harness that new energy and focus marketing on driving these new audiences to our resident companies. I am hopeful that with this renewed emphasis, we will be able to return to the extended New York City Ballet season in the future.” 

SPAC is projected to finish the 2017 fiscal year operationally breaking even. Audience attendance at 2017 classical season performances reached projected levels. The Philadelphia Orchestra is scheduled to return for 12 performances, from Aug. 1 – 18, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will perform at the Spa Little Theatre Aug. 5- 21.

The 2017 Season featured a partnership with Caffè Lena that presented a monthly series of free concerts atop SPAC’s new Charles R. Wood Gazebo stage, as well as a trio of sold-out SPAC at Caffè Lena shows during the spring.

The inaugural “SPAC on Stage” series resulted in three sold-out performances, with nearly one-third of all attendees being first-time SPAC ticket buyers, Sobol said.

A “Live at the Jazz Bar” series was initiated in the Hall of Springs – and brought 300 to 400 people to each of the seven events to hear live jazz following performances by the ballet and orchestra.

SPAC on Stage, Live at the Jazz Bar and the Caffè Lena at SPAC series will all be back for the 2018 season. 

In 2017, SPAC’s free education programs reached more than 15,000 young individuals, offered more than 125 classes, presentations, performances, and events, and partnered with more than 70 schools and non-profit organizations across the greater Capital Region.

In the near future, the organization anticipates launching a new user-friendly website, and in December will initiate a pilot program with the Decoda Chamber Ensemble. The group, the first affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall, will include a weeklong artist-in-residency for students at the Saratoga Independent School (SIS).  A full chamber program will be staged Dec. 15 at the Bethesda Church in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Upcoming SPAC events include a lecture luncheon featuring a discussion titled the “Fascinating Life of Katrina Trask,” at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 26 at SPAC’s Spa Little Theatre; The Sachal Ensemble musicians - known for their extraordinary journey from Lahore to Lincoln Center featured in the “Song of Lahore” film -  live and on stage at the Little Theater 7 p.m. Oct. 30, (preceded by two screenings of the film at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. ay Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas a day earlier),  and a pair of Nutcracker Teas in the Hall of Springs on Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. For ticket information, go to: spac.org. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Sachal Ensemble – whose story of traditional musicians trying to survive under the oppression of modern day Pakistan was told in the film “Song of Lahore” -  will perform at Proctors Oct. 28 and at SPAC’s Spa Little Theatre on Oct. 30.

The film, “Song of Lahore,” will also be screened at Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas in Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Oct. 29. The film, by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, illustrates how their music-making not only brought inspiration to their lives, but literally sustained them in their struggles – and how, finally, they were discovered on YouTube by Wynton Marsalis and brought to the US for performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

In one of the most poignant moments of the film, Nijat Ali, conductor of the Sachal Ensemble says, “we want to show the world that Pakistanis are artists, not terrorists.”

Tickets for the performance at SPAC’s Little Theatre start at $40. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit: spac.org.

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A special guest appearance by Boston Red Sox baseball legend David Ortiz will be among the highlights of this year’s Saratoga Wine and Food Festival on Sept. 8- 9.

The sports star, known affectionately to his fans as “Big Papi,” will participate in Friday’s Fired Up! event as well as two smaller gatherings on Friday evening, spotlighting his new line of cigars and Arias wine. 

“He is not only a baseball hero, he is someone whose life and career have been an inspiration to millions of people.” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “We are proud that such an outstanding and beloved public figure and role model will play a part in this year’s festival and gratified that a portion of the proceeds from his VIP appearances will benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, an organization that supports lifesaving pediatric care for children in need.”

Ortiz recently launched a line of wines with the local Ianniello & DeCrescente families.  "Arias" is named after David’s mother, Angela Rosa Arias, who tragically lost her life in a car crash in 2002. The multi-colored wine label illustrates two hands raised with index fingers pointing upwards, a salute Ortiz often made to his mother after hitting a home run and now is a symbol to encourage the human spirit to rise against adversity. The Arias portfolio includes a merlot, chardonnay, cabernet and sauvignon blanc.

He has also introduced a cigar line, "Big Papi David Ortiz Cigars,” crafted by "El Artista Cigars" based out of the Dominican Republic. Its band displays a red silhouette of Big Papi also pointing upward, as in his post-home run stance.

Ortiz will headline a 7 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. meet/greet and photo signing for 100 Fired Up! ticketholders who donate a minimum of $50 or more per person to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund; brief remarks to all Fired Up! guests in the main tent, followed by a video presentation on the Children’s Fund; and a 90-minute “Big Papi’s Arias Wine & Cigar Bar” experience for 100 people that will take place in the Hall of Springs Jazz Bar from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from each event will benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, a charity which funds pediatric services for children in New England and the Dominican Republic.

Presented annually at the end of its classical season, the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival is an epicurean showcase featuring two days of gourmet events showcasing fine international wines, innovative chef-prepared menus, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, expansive tastings, upscale auctions and a luxury auto show. Held under elegant tents on SPAC’s lawn, the weekend is anchored by three events: an Adirondack Road Tour and Luncheon; Friday’s Fired Up! Grill Competition and Saturday’s Grand Tasting and Concours D’Elegance, the festival centerpiece. Presented in partnership with the Saratoga Automobile Museum, proceeds from the festival benefit education programming at SPAC and the Museum.

A featured event at Saturday’s Grand Tasting will be the final round of SPAC’s “Home Rangers” Amateur Chef Competition, which includes a cook-off between the competition’s amateur chef finalist and BlueStar celebrity chef Melissa Doney. Chef Doney was a competitor on Season 8 of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen hosted by Gordon Ramsey.

Among the judges for the final round will be BlueStar All Star Chef Jay Hajj and Ariana Philips, editor of Food Network magazine. Chef Suvir Saran, an accomplished chef, cookbook author, educator as well as a farmer who specializes in bringing Indian cooking to the American kitchen will be the final judge.

FESTIVAL EVENTS

FRIDAY, SEPT. 8:  Adirondack Road Tour & Gourmet Luncheon | 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. This spirited 1 ½ hour, professionally-led road rally for auto collectors winds through beautiful Adirondack roads to finish at the historic Lake George Club, where a delicious cocktail reception and three course wine-paired luncheon will be served. Event price: $100.

Fired Up! Grill Competition featuring Special Guest David Ortiz| 7 -10 p.m. Chefs from the Capital Region’s finest restaurants will battle it out for the FIRED UP! title as guests enjoy great music, gourmet food, BBQ, a cold refreshing Stella Artois, wines and spirits. The event is held under an oversized tent on SPAC’s lawn. Event price: $85

David Ortiz Meet and Greet | 7 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. This opportunity will be available to the first 100 people who purchase a specially priced Fired Up! ticket of $135, which includes a $50 donation to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.  Event price: $135

“Big Papi’s Arias Wine & Cigar Bar” | 8:30 p.m. -10 p.m.  David Ortiz will host a VIP experience for 100 people that will take place in the Hall of Springs Jazz Bar from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.  The event will feature an opportunity to mingle with the baseball legend and other guests while enjoying Arias wines, gourmet hors d’oeuvres and cigars. All of the guests will receive an autographed bottle of Arias.  A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. Event price: $175

SATURDAY, SEPT. 9: Grand Tasting and Concours D’Elegance, noon – 4 p.m. All guests will have the opportunity to savor exquisite foods created by more than 20 chefs in the Capital Region; a mystery wall, and cocktails, wine and beer. In addition, The Saratoga Automobile Museum will present a show of luxury collector cars including classes of Shelby Cobra, Porsche, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, among others. Event price: $85.  A VIP Grant Tasting ticket, which allows earlier entry to the Grand Tasting and exclusive access to the VIP area, is available for $175.

The Saratoga Wine and Food Festival is Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s primary fundraiser for its educational programming, including Classical Kids, a collaborative program in which SPAC works with local schools to teach elementary and middle school aged children about the classical performing arts. 

Tickets to the festival and more information about the complete festival schedule are available at spac.org; by calling 518-584-9330; or in person at the SPAC Box Office.  

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 10 August 2017 18:20

SPAC Puts Audience On Stage

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A few months into her tenure at the helm of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Elizabeth Sobol explored the venue’s historic stage, the jigsaw pieces of a unique concept formulating in her mind. 

“One day I was standing out in the amphitheater and looked up at this massive stage while thinking about this crazy idea,” recalled SPAC’s president and CEO.  “I wondered: How many people can we seat up there? As it turns out, it’s 300.”

Earlier this week, the fruition of that “crazy idea” went on full display when the venue hosted the first of four SPAC On Stage events, which spins the performers’ podium 180 degrees and places audience members at the back of the stage to face the musicians. A panoramic of the setting sun. the great lawn of SPAC and the columned architecture of the Hall of Springs lazily recline in the distance. 

The four-part series will be staged consecutive Monday nights in August. The grand experiment kicked off Aug. 7 and by all measures of sound and vision was a major success. 

“We’re making SPAC history tonight!” Sobol told the audience assembled for the series premiere featuring The Hot Sardines. The ensemble, which boasts triple-horns, sassy vocals and a rhythm section that channels the vintage essence of New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls alike, proved to be a perfect choice. 

“Tonight, we’re doing this for the first time together, so let’s let our hair down and have a ton of fun,” Sobol announced, the foundation of a rollicking piano punctuated by the brassy horns of The Hot Sardines.

“Tonight, you can take photographs,” Sobol instructed. “Tonight, you can dance.” Some couples did just that, swooning to the sounds of classic jazz interpretations. 

The visuals are splendid, with no seat more than a few meters from the stage, and however it was done, the sound on this night is perfect: each musical intonation easily observed, and the volume boosted at an enjoyable level.

The experience is both intimate and surreal. The lawn and amphitheater, absent of patrons, is eerily quiet, and even the venue’s security detail collectively wear perplexed looks. Audience members are directed to their seats via an ascending staircase at stage left, warmly greeted as if entering a gallant eatery, and are directed to their pre-numbered seats by walking across the historic stage where everyone from Jim Morrison to Mikhail Baryshnikov have strutted their stuff.

The U-shape seating configuration cradles the stage, with a half-dozen or so rows flanking the band podium on either side and a bleacher-type fixture housing seats that climbs at its center.

SPAC on Stage takes place Mondays at 8 p.m. in August. Time for Three will perform Monday, Aug. 14, Black Violin on Aug. 21 (tickets for this show are sold out), and three-time Grammy nominated Afro-Cuban music group Tiempo Libre will conclude the series on Aug. 28.

“When the notion of SPAC on Stage was born, there were bands that I wanted to bring in that I thought would do this so perfectly,” Sobol said. “We’re almost sold out of the whole series and 22 percent of our ticket buyers for this series have never been to SPAC before, so that’s huge. I wanted to introduce a type of music we weren’t really touching on at SPAC and this was the way to do it. You’re bringing the audience out of the amphitheater and onto the stage to be with the artists.” Sobol said audiences can expect the series to be revisited in future seasons.

Time for Three will be showcasing a lot of their new material during their SPAC appearance Aug. 14. 

“Inviting the audience on stage to get that close to us is going to be awesome,” said Time for Three founding member Nick Kendall. “I think it plays into the unexpected characteristics of Time for Three. You’ll really get to witness the interplay between the three of us. So much of (our sound) seems like it’s being created in the moment and by being a lot closer you’ll be able to see that interplay that sometimes is missed at a big concert hall or a stadium.

“We have played at SPAC before with the orchestra, so iIt’s going to be really cool to turn that on its head, and bring the audience on stage.”

Time for Three and its three classically trained musicians — violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang, and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer defy traditional genre classification. The trio performs music from Bach to Brahms and beyond, playing originals and their own arrangements of everything from bluegrass and folk tunes to mash-ups of hits by the Beatles, Brittany Spears, Kanye West, Katy Perry, and others. The group has performed at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, to the ABC TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

The variety of venues well suits the SPAC on Stage series as well as the ensemble’s performance chops. “It reflects the energy of our band. We love the surprise nature of it. We’re just as comfortable playing on street corners as we are in concert halls,” said Kendall, adding that the group’s three co-creators inspire a fusion of sound that creates a larger symphonic fourth. 

“At the root of my desire in music is the appetite to create,” Kendall said. “There’s such a reciprocal energy, especially with my bandmates when we perform; I’ll go out, spark an energy and if the energy comes back – well, that’s what I live for, whether it’s with another musician or with the audience.”

Monday night the energy created in that magical place between audience and band will be given a whole new sea of possibilities in which to flourish.

 

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Audience filing in to the U-shaped seating configuration during first of four SPAC on Stage performances Aug. 7, 2017. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 03 August 2017 21:21

ET Calls SPAC Home

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Stéphane Denève was 11 years old when he sat inside a darkened movie theater and watched a young boy try to help a loveable alien find its way home. Thirty-five years later, that moment continues to carry a special emotional significance for Denève, and one that he hopes to share with thousands of others on Saturday when he stands atop the stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, flanked by four HD screens showing Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” and leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in a live musical accompaniment of John Williams’ score.   

“I was born in ’71 so I saw the movie when I was 11. I loved it so much I cried in the theater. And during my childhood, I had a poster of ET over my bed,” says the conductor.

When it came to his own daughter, Denève and his wife ensured the first time she saw the film was during the staging of a performance accompanied by the screening of the movie with her father conducting the orchestra. “That was very special, being able to share that with her,” he says. “I was very moved by it.”

Conducting the orchestra in real time while the film is screening is not without its challenges.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m piloting a big plane,” Denève laughs. “The movie is moving forward and so you’re moving forward with it. You cannot stop and say: oh, let me do it again.

“There are hundreds of cues through the movie interpreting the score. It’s fun, of course, but it’s also one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my career because you want to be both precise and expressive,” says Denève, who in June was named as the next music director of the St. Louis Symphony.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s August residency, which kicked off Thursday with Tchaikovsky’s famed 1812 Overture, will run through Aug. 19 with a celebratory “A Night at The Opera.” 

“It’s an incredible orchestra. It’s home for them, of course. You feel the connection they have with the audience. Some of the musicians even have their private homes in Saratoga,” Denève says.  “You put a group together to do something special and I feel we are creating the tension, the rhythm and the dialogue between the instruments.  

“When I am conducting I can feel the energy in the room. The energy of the audience, even though I have my back to them, is essential. You really feel when people are listening and the peak of tension, and attention, in the audience. I find that quite magical.”

Elizabeth Sobol, who is spending her first summer guiding SPAC as the organization’s president and CEO, says she is excited about all of it -  from the scheduled appearances of Yo-Yo Ma and Marcus Roberts, closing night’s “breathtaking evening with exquisite arias,” and a night set aside to pay tribute to Gershwin.

“At SPAC you want to be presenting the best of all genres. Gershwin was the ultimate composer who brought popular and classical music together on the knife edge that made it such brilliant, amazing, universal music,“ Sobol says.

Saturday, Aug. 5 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (complete with film). Steven Spielberg's cinematic masterpiece “E.T. The Extra—Terrestrial,” will be shown on four HD screens and accompanied by a live performance of John Williams's Academy Award-winning score.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s return to its summer home at Saratoga Performing Arts Center features three weeks of performances. The season, Aug. 2 – 19, encompasses wide-ranging classical and contemporary repertoire, world renowned musicians and conductors, family-oriented multi-media offerings and an opera evening. All performances at 8 p.m.

Some highlights: Friday Aug. 4 - Cirque de la Symphonie; Saturday, Aug. 5 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (complete with film); Wednesday, Aug. 9 - American Classics Day 1. An icon of classical music and arguably the world’s greatest living cellist, Yo-Yo Ma will grace the SPAC stage with his unmatched artistry; Thursday, Aug. 10 - American Classics Day 2. Maestro Marin Alsop n conducts an evening dedicated to the music of cherished American composer George Gershwin. Also: The Marcus Roberts Trio; Friday, Aug. 11 - American Classics Day 3. Duo Concerto for Vibraphone and Marimba is comprised of several Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays compositions arranged and orchestrated by Principal Percussion Christopher Deviney; Saturday, Aug. 12 - Raiders of the Lost Ark (complete with film). The film that gave the world one of its greatest movie heroes, Indiana Jones, will make its SPAC debut as John Williams's epic score is performed live; Wednesday, Aug. 16 - Sophisticated Ladies; Thursday, Aug. 17 - French Festival Day 1. Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Grammy Award-nominee Yannick Nézet-Séguin returns to Saratoga to lead the final week of programs; Friday, Aug. 18 - French Festival Day 2; Saturday, Aug. 19 - A Night at the Opera. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead singers from The Metropolitan Opera in an evening of glorious arias and sublime ensembles from the opera repertoire.

The full schedule of SPAC’s programming and events is available at spac.org.

Published in Entertainment

Rod Stewart

Why We Like Him: With his trademark raspy voice and exemplary musical lineage, Rod Stewart is one of the top-selling singers of the 20th century. Of particular note: his run with the Jeff Beck Group in the 1960s and his stint with The Faces, as well as his solo albums, through the mid-1970s.

Heritage: Born of Scottish and English ancestry. Loves soccer. Knighted by Prince William at Buckingham Palace in 2016.

Set List: Twenty songs. Ten originals. Ten covers.

Visually: Sir Rod looks healthy up against the 72 years he has spent on earth: shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest, swatches of blonde zagging across his scalp, and a voice that mostly still manages fine and complemented on stage by a chorus of back-up singers. His shaggy-hair look also inspired more than a few fans to don Rod The Mod hair-wigs, although for the most part the wigs seemed less like the classic rooster-cut of the ‘70s and more like a Long Island housewife’s beehive hair-do that had been violated by a pair of sheep shears.   

Memorable songs performed: The Faces’ “Stay With Me” still maintained some of its original joy-filled intensity, and was supplemented by the kicking of several soccer balls into the crowd. Renditions of Tim Hardin’s “Reason To Believe” and Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is The Deepest” were emotionally moving during the evening’s five-song acoustic set. “Maggie May” and “Ooh La La” were not. 

Stewart name-checked blues legend Muddy Waters before performing the Hambone Willie Newbern song “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” – which dates back to at least 1929 - dedicated “Young Turks” to World War II servicemen, covered Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” and performed a duet with Cyndi Lauper on The Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart of Mine.”

“You Wear It Well” brought the crowd to its feet, and “You’re In My Heart” had them swaying, arms waving and taking the lead on the choruses. 

Ill-advised:  The drum solo during “Forever Young,” featuring two drummers no less, making the most boring thing in rock doubly so. Another low moment occurred when the band, sans Rod, played “Proud Mary” Ike & Tina Turner style - likely meant to be a tribute, but mostly just looked like a foolish parody. Coincidentally, both segments were used to occupy time so that Rod could go backstage and change into another outfit.

Overall: Entertaining, but lacking the emotional passion that set him apart from his peers during the early 1970s when he reigned as king. All the sharp edges were removed from the guitars, the band – in their matching suits and neat styles – looked more like Rod’s wait staff than musical foils, and Rod himself seems destined to grab the title of rock’s version of Wayne Newton. Clearly, he misses Ron Wood, who left to join the Rolling Stones in 1975. It doesn’t look like the Stones are going to give him back any time soon.

Most annoyingly is the known talent that Stewart once promised before he began his descent into the maelstrom of mainstream mediocrity. It was what promptedmusic critic Greil Marcus to proclaim decades ago: “Rarely has a singer had as full and unique a talent as Rod Stewart; rarely has anyone betrayed his talent so completely.” Not much has changed.

 

Cyndi Lauper

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Why We Like Her: Fun, talented, and charming.

Heritage: Born at Astoria General Hospital and grew up in Ozone Park - both neighborhoods in Queens whose surrounding environs also spawned Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Marty Scorsese, three New York Dolls, all four of the Ramones, and Steinway Pianos.  

Set List: 11 songs, covering a span of recordings from 1983’s “She’s So Unusual,” to “Detour,” which was released in 2006. 

Visually: The show began with Lauper swinging around an oversized traveling trunk while teetering atop a pair of high heel shoes, her dancing form framed by massive video screens that depicted Betty Grable days and classic Horror film nights. During her singing of “She Bop,” perhaps most appropriately, she shucked off her oversized top hat and her shoes and performed the balance of the set in bare feet, alternating between song and stand-up shtick, including a joke of sorts about a Nashville hotel that merged Dolly Parton with the Dalai Lama. She also name-checked Captain Lou Albano.

Memorable songs performed: The set began a bit rough  – including one off-key tune which was halted and re-started for which a missing stage prop was blamed - but hit stride mid-way through the set and absolutely took off with the turbo-charged fury of “Money Changes Everything,” the joy-filled  “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – which also included pertinent social messages - a charming rendition of “Time After Time,” and an emotionally charged “Not My Father’s Son.”  “True Colors,” Lauper’s beautifully haunting ode to humanity, provided the show-closer.  

Throughout her set Lauper alternately whirled like a dervish, shared center stage with a dulcimer, and serenaded like a chanteuse.  “Have a beautiful summer,” she told the crowd as she exited the stage. “Take care of each other and remember: diversity makes us stronger.”   As one clearly moved row-mate inside the amphitheater expressed after Lauper’s finale: She really leaves it all up on that stage.

 

 

 

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