Live chamber music from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will be back this summer but in an unlikely location: the High Tunnel greenhouse at Pitney Meadows Community Farm.
“It’s kinda perfect for us,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “We can have about 200 people in an outdoors setting according to the governor’s office. The walls (of the greenhouse) will be open but they’ll be protected from any rain.”
This level of attendance compares to having concerts at SPAC’s amphitheater where the venue is allowed only up to 20 percent attendance and all must show proof of vaccination or testing. At the greenhouse, however, attendees must only complete a health screening questionnaire and wear a mask with social distancing seating.
The Pitney location reflects SPAC’s ongoing commitment to creating partnerships with organizations whose interests can range from food, art, beauty or the environment — areas that “all sustain us especially during COVID and that bring us together,” Sobol said. A few years ago, SPAC held a wine and food event at the farm.
“I became a huge fan of what they do there,” she said. “I feel like a spiritual sister.”
The Pitney Meadows Community Farm in Saratoga Springs became a non-profit in 2016. Originally owned by the Pitney family since 1862, a $1.13 million investment from the Open Space Fund created a conservation easement and opened the space to community gardens, educational programs, CSA programs, collaborations with local chefs and restaurants and even a few musical events in the High Tunnel greenhouse.
“We are thrilled to have our preserved land used for such a unique opportunity,” said Lynn Trizna, executive director of Pitney. “We are excited to provide a space where individuals can safely gather to enjoy the arts once again.”
The concerts, which will begin on Sunday, June 13, and run periodically on Sundays until the final concert on Sunday Aug. 29 will have two performances each day: 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The concerts will be given rain or shine and last about 75 minutes with no intermission. Seating will be provided and free parking is available.
Among the performers are pianists Wu Han, Michael Brown and Orion Weiss; cellist David Finckel; clarinetist Anthony McGill; and the Calidore String Quartet.
Because of the setting, SPAC will supply the risers for the performers and bring in a piano as needed. Co-artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel chose the programs.
“All this was done with close cooperation and the blessing of CMSLC,” Sobol said. “They’ve been experimenting with outdoor concerts and have become very adept at adapting.”
Wu Han and Finckel both said they were thrilled to be back after too long an absence.
“We are so excited to play for a live audience. We truly have no concerns about performing outdoors in light of the joy and passion that comes with the prospect of returning to our audience,” Wu Han said.
But people should remember these concerts will have a different acoustic.
“They will be different from the Spa Little Theatre, but the aesthetics of being outdoors at Pitney Meadows will be breathtaking,” Sobol said. “I hope people come with an open spirit to hear live music. Making this announcement was a very symbolic act.”
Seating is to be arranged based on a pod of two people, so ticket purchases can be made for $100 – $120 per pod and must be purchased in advance at www.spac.org. Subscriptions for all six concerts at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. will be available starting April 1 for SPAC members and April 6 for the general public. Single performance tickets will be available for SPAC members April 12 and for the general public April 16. There will be no tickets at the door.
Sobol said to stand tuned about possible events with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet.
“We are looking at each residency and working on collaborating to keeping everyone safe,” she said. “We are committed to having them here this summer and hope to have announcements soon.”
The ‘CMS at the Meadows’ schedule:
(For more information on these concerts, visit spac.org.)
Sunday, June 13 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: From Prague to Vienna
Stella Chen, violin
Bella Hristova, violin
Misha Amory, viola
Sihao He, cello
Anthony Mcgill, clarinet
— Music of Dvorak and Mozart
Sunday, June 20 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: The German Tradition
Wu Han, piano
Arnaud Sussmann, violin
Paul Neubauer, viola
David Finckel, cello
— Music of Beethoven and Schumann
Sunday, July 11 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: Delectable Discoveries
Danbi Um, violin
Hsin-yun Huang, viola
Nicholas Canellakis, cello
Inbal Segev, cello
— Music of Martin, Glière and Arensky
Sunday, July 18 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: World Premiere
Michael Brown, piano
Gilles Vonsattel, piano
Orion Weiss, piano
— Music of Barber, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Brown and Ravel
Sunday, Aug. 8 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: The Calidore Plays Beethoven
Calidore String Quartet
Jeffrey Myers, violin
Ryan Meehan, violin
Jeremy Berry, viola
Estelle Choi, cello
— Music of Beethoven
Sunday, Aug. 29 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: All Schubert
Wu Han, piano
Benjamin Beilman, violin
David Finckel, cello
— Music of Schubert