Orchestra newbies, gather round.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is in town (it is August in Saratoga, after all) and now is your chance to give it a try. Don’t be shy. Come come. We know it’s no night on the SPAC lawn with Dave Matthews. But it is one of those uniquely “summer in Saratoga” experiences that very few seem to regret.
There are seasoned orchestra-goers — people who make sure they have a few nights free to catch the orchestra during its annual three-week residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. We’re not talking to you folks.
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Saratoga Performing Arts Center
When: Wednesday (Aug. 19), Thursday (Aug. 20), Friday (Aug. 21) and Saturday (Aug. 22), 8 p.m.
How much: $24-$97 depending on the night and where you sit.
We’re talking to the people who’ve never purposely attended a live orchestra in their life. The ones who couldn’t tell a violin from a viola, an oboe from a clarinet, a flugelhorn from a trumpet. Below, we’ve got five reasons why you should finally give it a try.
1. THERE’S STUFF TO SEE. Sure, an orchestra is about the music. But if you’ve been holding back because you don’t like classical music — well, that’s like skipping the Saratoga Race Course because you don’t care about horse racing. The orchestra is a multi-sense experience and ripe for people-watching. If you’re on the lawn, lean back and watch the stars. The best visual is the people on stage, though — the conductor drenched in sweat, the pianist furiously tickling ivory with his eyes closed, the solo violinist who bends every which way in a floor-length gown.
2. IT MAKES A GOOD DATE. Ladies. Gentlemen. What makes a more romantic date than a picnic on the SPAC lawn, a little wine, a little bug-repelling candle, the stars in the night sky overhead and live music from a world-class orchestra? Nothing. Nothing makes a more romantic date. Helpful hint: On Thursdays, Sage Colleges hosts its own pre-show date night. Starting at 6 p.m., couples can come and enjoy complimentary imported food, wine and beer tastings, and take silly pictures inside a photo booth.
3. YOUR KIDS WILL GROW UP TO BE SMART. Learning to play a musical instrument is good for developing brains. Scientists say so. And just bringing your kids to the orchestra may get them interested in playing an instrument or two. Helpful hint: On Fridays, if you show up early (6 p.m.), there’s a bunch of stuff to get kids into musical instruments. An instrument “petting zoo” offers kids the chance to sample and play a range of orchestral instruments with help from professionals. Principal musicals from the orchestra also lead an interactive workshop for kids on the lawn starting at 7 p.m. And just for fun, there’s also strolling magicians, free ice cream, balloon animals, chalk contests, family games and photo booths.
4. IT HELPS YOU UNWIND AFTER A STRESSFUL DAY (OR WEEK OR MONTH). Here’s the thing about classical music. It’s a proven catharsis. Studies have found it helps listeners release pent-up emotions and express their emotions. It lowers blood pressure. A couple studies have even found that it helps some people tune out chronic pain. Our recommendation? Bring a blanket, snacks, some wine, and then sit back and relax.
5. YOU WERE A BAND GEEK. Did you play flute in high school? I did. Did your marching band regularly win pageants, parades and competitions? Mine did. That stuff doesn’t leave you when you graduate. It’s a part of you. Embrace your inner band geek. Go to the orchestra. Watch the professionals. Then go home and pull your old flute from the back of your bedroom closet, thumb through your old sheet music, remember the time you had to play Pomp and Circumstance for what felt like an hour whenever graduation day came round. Helpful hint: History nerds, the orchestra has something for you, too. At its very last performance this summer, the orchestra will conclude the show with its annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. There will be an interactive military encampment with period costumes. There will be fireworks. There will be live cannons. Enough said.
Reach Gazette reporter Bethany Bump at 395-3107, [email protected] or @BethanyBump on Twitter.