Saratoga Performing Arts Center announced today that the Philadelphia Orchestra will return to its summer home for its residency on Aug. 11-14, marking the company’s first live performances at SPAC since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The orchestra last performed at SPAC in 2019, when it enjoyed a three-week residency from July 31 to Aug. 17.
Led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin for all four programs, this year’sabbreviated residency will also feature a finale performance with violinist Joshua Bell.
Also highlighting the engagement and as part of SPAC’s commitment to presenting works that represent a more diverse group of voices are seven SPAC premieres, including works by Philadelphia Orchestra Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank, Valerie Coleman, Florence Price, and Louise Farrenc.
The performances will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from the governor to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff. In order to provide guests with the safest possible experience, all attendees will be seated in socially-distanced pods.
“After more than a year of a shuttered, silent amphitheater stage, it feels miraculous to announce the return of Yannick and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Though, sadly, it was necessary to shorten the residency this year in the face of the enormous financial and other challenges posed by the era of COVID-19, we are excited about the richness of diversity of the programming,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“From the opening notes of a Mozart Piano Concerto, with Yannick himself at the piano, to a closing concert featuring Joshua Bell in Beethoven’s sublime Violin Concerto — and powerful SPAC premieres by women and BIPOC composers — throughout the week, we will savor every sweet and precious note of the Orchestra’s 2021 residency.”
“Our time in Saratoga is always treasured, but last year’s absence makes this cherished summer tradition even more special,” said Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “We look forward to sharing the dynamic music of Florence Price, Gabriela Lena Frank, Louise Farrenc, Valerie Coleman, and others with our SPAC family.”
According to SPAC, the average size of the orchestra will not differ greatly from any previous year.
(* indicates SPAC premiere)
8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 11
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor and piano
Mozart , Piano Concerto No. 12 *
Price, Symphony 1 *
Opening Night of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s residency includes a “first” for SPAC audiences as Nézet-Séguin leads the orchestra from the piano. Written following his arrival in Vienna, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 is “very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being insipid,” in the composer’s own words.
Also highlighting the evening is the SPAC premiere of the Symphony No. 1 by Florence Price. In 1933, Price’s First Symphony was the first symphonic work by a Black woman to be played by a major American orchestra. Steeped in American folk music, spirituals, and church hymns, her celebrated work reflects her experience as a Black woman raised in the post-Civil War South.
8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 12
Bach & Brahms
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
David Kim and Juliette Kang, violins
Coleman, Seven O’Clock Shout *
Bach, Concerto for Two Violins
Brahms, Symphony No. 1
This special program, dedicated to health care workers, opens with the SPAC premiere of Seven O’Clock Shout, composed as a tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic by American composer Valerie Coleman. Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year and one of the Washington Post’s “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music,” Valerie Coleman is among the world’s most performed composers living today.
The evening continues with Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with Concertmaster David Kim and First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.
8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13
Nézet-Séguin leads Frank & Mozart
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Ricardo Morales, clarinet
Fran, Selections from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout *
Mozart, Clarinet Concerto
Farrenc, Symphony No. 2 *
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence, Gabriela Lena Frank, who is widely celebrated for exploring her multicultural heritage through her work, mixed elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions in Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout. Frank says that Leyendas “draws inspiration from the idea of mestizaje, a mixing of ethnic and cultural groups, as envisioned by the Peruvian writer José María Arguedas, where cultures can coexist without the subjugation of one by the other. As such, this piece brings together elements from the Western classical and Andean folk music traditions.”
The work will receive its SPAC premiere in this concert alongside Mozart’s beloved Clarinet Concerto, performed by Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales. Another SPAC premiere and a piece that is “unjustly-underperformed” according to Nézet-Séguin, is Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 2 from 1845, which closes the evening.
8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 14
Joshua Bell returns
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin
Price, Adoration *
Beethoven, Violin Concerto
Mozart, Symphony No. 25 *
Joshua Bell returns to SPAC to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. A new arrangement for solo violin and string orchestra of Florence Price’s Adoration receives its world premiere, while Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 — a work written when the composer was just 17 and never before performed at SPAC — closes The Philadelphia Orchestra’s residency in Saratoga.
The concerts will all be approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. All programs are subject to change.
SPAC Members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on June 1 for amphitheater seats.
Amphitheater tickets for the public will be available to purchase on June 7. Lawn tickets will be available to purchase at a later date, to be announced.
Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater. Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people.
Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater. Advance ticket purchases are advised as ticket availability will be limited. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.
COVID-19 Safety & Protocols:
Guests will be seated in socially distanced pods. Guests are permitted to bring factory sealed water bottles and essential personal items only.
Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.
Visit spac.org for more details.
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