Schenectady’s Music Haven returns in August with concerts

Blues guitarist Albert Cummings will kick off the Music Haven concerts on Aug. 15. 

Blues guitarist Albert Cummings will kick off the Music Haven concerts on Aug. 15. 

The music will be back at Central Park’s Music Haven this summer.

For three Sundays in August, the outdoor stage in Schenectady will feature local musicians, like the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, and some from further afield, like Israeli/Iranian pop artist Liraz.

“I’m thrilled to keep Music Haven on the map this summer and welcome friends and neighbors back to the heart of the park,” said Producing Artistic Director Mona Golub,who has produced concerts in Central Park since 1990.

Last year, Music Haven was canceled due to the pandemic and planning this season came with several challenges, including restrictions on international travel.

“It really wasn’t until late March, early April that I sensed there might be some opportunity for a few pop-up concerts towards the end of the summer, recognizing that an ungated space is very different from a concert venue that can control who enters by ticket and who sits where,” Golub said.

Finally, as restrictions in New York State lifted, Golub felt that August would be the best time to host the abbreviated series, which typically brings in artists from all across the globe.

“It was important to me to present a few shows that would maintain the integrity of our brand. In that sense, caliber and mission both come into play so I’m pleased that we can offer a little bit of Americana, a nod to our global mission and the return of a local tradition as we present our hometown Schenectady Symphony Orchestra,” Golub said.

The first show of the series kicks off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 with Albert Cummings, a blues guitarist who cut his chops in the Capital Region and is touring in celebration of “Believe,” his latest album. Wyld Blue, winner of the 2019 Eddies Award for Blues Band of the Year, will kick off the evening.

The second concert of the season, which is slated for August 22, will take audiences further from home. Liraz will be joined by several members of the Ethiopian jazz collective Anbessa Orchestra, which is based in New York City. Liraz, who is of Sephardic Jewish descent, worked on her latest album “Zan” under challenging conditions. To produce it, she had to smuggle recordings from Iranian musicians out of the country and then add her own vocals. Palestinian Kanun virtuoso, Firas Zreik, will set the stage as the evening’s special guest.

The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra will close out the series on August 29. The program, which will be directed by Glen Cortese, is inspired by “The American Songbook,” and will include classics from the Tin Pan Alley era by Gershwin, Porter and Berlin, some Copland and traditional American folk tunes. It will also feature songs from John Williams like “The Cowboys Overture,” and a “Star Wars” medley. Special guest vocalists, Mia Scirocco and Casey Grey will be featured throughout the evening.

In past seasons, attendance was typically around 1,500 a concert.

“We fully expect that there will be some caution going into these three shows that we perhaps haven’t seen before. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure a wonderful experience for everyone for chooses to join us,” Golub said.

Even as this season nears, Golub is already looking toward planning 2022’s line-up.

She said her wish list for performers is now stacked because of the lost 2020 season and a shortened season this year.

“The diversity, the caliber, is just stunning. I relish the opportunity to bring in some of the folks with whom I’ve been speaking with across the last couple of years . . . There’s a lot of good in store,” Golub said.

Each show kicks off at 7 p.m. Proctors will be the rain site. There will be wine and local craft beverages available from Wolf Hollow Brewing Company and Nine Pin Cider, as well as ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. Michele’s Charcoal Pit will also return.

For updates visit the Music Haven Concert Series page on Facebook.

Categories: Entertainment

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