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Over 400 area youth display talent during SPAC showcase

Over 400 area youth display talent during SPAC showcase

Popular entertainment venue hosts its second annual Festival of Young Artists
Over 400 area youth display talent during SPAC showcase
Members of Scotia-Glenville High School's Tartones belt out a tune Sunday afternoon.
Photographer: Erica Miller / Gazette Photographer

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Capital Region is known for its rich depth of arts offerings. Not surprisingly, the youth of the area are just as involved in learning to dance, sing, write poetry, paint a picture, or play an instrument. That was on full display Sunday during the Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s second annual Festival of Young Artists.

More than 400 children from area schools gathered to show off their talents over the course of the afternoon, entertaining more than 2,600 people who registered for the event. 

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In a stroll about the grounds, one could hear a brass/percussion choir from the Empire State Youth Orchestra in the amphitheater, or singing from the Capital District Youth Chorale in a nearby tent, or across the promenade the rhythmic beat of music for the dancers from the Northeast Ballet Company in another tent. These were just three of the groups performing. 

Besides the many groups under the Empire State Youth Orchestra umbrella and the CHIME program, there was a poetry slam by 13 poets; an impromptu vocal concert from the 10-member SCWA Capella from Saratoga Springs High School; several dancers in tutus and point shoes from the School of the Arts at the National Museum of Dance; the Scotia-Glenville High School Tartones; the Saratoga Fiddle Club in some foot stomping tunes; several booths with student art; the Schenectady High School’s Dance Connection; and the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers in Abenaki traditional dances.

While lines were long for free Stewart’s ice cream, dance also seemed to attract a huge crowd of enthusiastic admirers. Besides the two dance organizations, there were three student efforts. One of those was “backyard,” a poem by North Colonie student Genevieve Diehl. Dora Law, 17, from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School and a student at the National Museum of Dance, choreographed a dreamy, slow dance, while 15-year-old Leama DeVincenzo of Saratoga Springs and a student at the National Museum read the poem. The crowd applauded ecstatically. Many recorded what they saw on their phones.

The festival concluded with an hour-long presentation of a little of everything that had gone on. While people slowly found their seats, the Empire State Youth Orchestra’s Vanderlyn Jazz Quintet entertained with very tasty improvisations. The SPAC gong sounded, people settled, and Joseph Bruchac narrated an Abenaki story accompanied by Native flutist Jesse Bruchac about “The Coming of Summer.”

Twelve different selections followed including those with the ESYO and its music director Carlos Agreda or Robert Hansbrough leading the ESYO Wind Orchestra. The CDYC joined in on some pieces; and three of the poets recited their own poems. Dance was present on all the works with all the young dancers showing off their discipline and expertise. One of the highlights was New York City Ballet dancer/choreographer Lauren Lovette’s dance that gave 12 dancers from Northeast Ballet the thrill of a lifetime. 

“She matched each of our techniques with what we could do,” said Samantha Percy. “It was emotional, and fun to do... to let loose.”

Before everyone joined in with Leonard Bernstein’s “Make Our Garden Grow,” SPAC CEO Elizabeth Sobol proclaimed that the festival would be an annual event and praised the amazing level of local talent.

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