Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC August 4 to 21

Alex Baldwin and Yo Yo Ma Highlight at Saratoga Springs

By: - Mar 25, 2010

SPAC Saratoga Saratoga Saratoga Saratoga

Saratoga Performing Arts Center has announced the 2010 summer season of The Philadelphia Orchestra presented by HSBC Bank USA, N.A., August 4 – 21. Led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Charles Dutoit, the three-week program of classical and contemporary masterpieces includes major works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, and Brahms, a special guest appearance by Alec Baldwin who will narrate Prokofiev's classic Peter and the Wolf, a "Farewell Concert" with Charles Dutoit and Chantal Juillet, renowned soloists including Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Chang and Garrick Ohlsson and "Cirque de la Symphonie," a fusion of cirque entertainment and classical music that makes its SPAC debut this season.
"For Maestro Dutoit's final season as SPAC's Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, he has put together a stunning program, rich with classical masterworks and innovative treasures that will showcase the artistic depth and range of The Philadelphia Orchestra and take audiences on a journey they'll never forget. Truly, this program is a gift to Charles' Saratoga fans and a reminder of the artistic passion that drives his programming and his performances," said Marcia J. White, SPAC's President and Executive Director.
"The opening of our Celebration Season is a classical music lovers dream, with an Opening Night appearance by iconic cellist Yo-Yo Ma, performances of Stravinsky's seminal works The Rite of Spring and The Firebird Suite, and Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony with choral accompaniment by the world-renowned Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia," said White. 
"Putting a fresh twist on the classical performing arts continues to be a goal at SPAC. Families, longtime fans and newcomers will not want to miss award-winning actor Alec Baldwin live on our stage, narrating Prokofiev's famous Peter and the Wolf, or the fantastic feats of aerialists, acrobats and other cirque artists as Cirque de la Symphonie collaborates with the Orchestra to present audiences with a stunning feast of sight and sound." 
"Celebrated pops conductors Jeff Tyzik and Steven Reineke present two dynamic pops programs during the season. Jeff Tyzik's A Century of Broadway visits Broadway's past and present, with performances of the biggest hits of the past century including music from My Fair Lady, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Wicked Divas celebrates showstoppers from Broadway, opera and popular music and includes several selections from Tony-award winning musical Wicked. Our pops evenings bring the music, singing and excitement of the ' Great White Way ' to Saratoga."  
"From start to finish, the 2010 Orchestra season is poised to be a magnificent tribute to Maestro Dutoit as well as a  dynamic celebration of classical music itself,"  concluded White. 
The Philadelphia Orchestra looks forward to embracing our audiences and longstanding supporters in Saratoga this summer, and to celebrating the many years of extraordinary leadership that Charles Dutoit has brought to our music-making in the tranquility of Upstate New York," said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore.  "Our continuing partnership with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center will bear fruit once again in summer programs that showcase the musicians of our magnificent Orchestra and provide music lovers with a wide range of classical and popular programs.  Please join us – The Philadelphia Orchestra plays for you."
Alec Baldwin Narrating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf
Award-winning actor ALEC BALDWIN returns to SPAC's stage on Friday, August 6 to narrate Sergei Prokofiev's family classic Peter and the Wolf. Originally composed in 1936 for a children's theater in Moscow , Peter and the Wolf has become Prokofiev's best-known work. The composer, who wrote the story as well as the music, uses personified instruments to tell the tale of young Peter and his animal friends the Duck, the Bird, and the Cat (represented by an oboe, flute, and clarinet respectively). Peter, himself represented by the string section, outwits the Wolf (French horns), who is threatening his small Russian village. The well-loved work, which will have its first orchestral performance at SPAC this season, is frequently used in music education to teach children about the different instruments of the orchestra. Alec Baldwin, celebrated film and television star, joins a long line of celebrities who have narrated the work including David Bowie, Sting, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart and Bobby McFerrin.
Cirque de la Symphonie
For one very special evening, SPAC's Amphitheatre will become an arena for the astounding acrobatics and aerial feats of CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE. Under the direction of guest conductor Rossen Milanov, the Orchestra will perform in collaboration with some of the best cirque artists in the world. Aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strongmen will perform along with -- and above -- the musicians of the Orchestra. Described as "dazzling and elegant" by the San Francisco Examiner, "illuminating" by the Seattle Times and "stunning" by the St. Petersburg Times, the troupe's performances are uniquely adapted to stage accommodations shared by symphonies.
Orchestral Highlights
Opening Night (August 4) will feature Stravinsky's THE RITE OF SPRING, widely considered the seminal orchestral work of the twentieth century. Originally written by Stravinsky for Sergei Diaghilev's groundbreaking Ballets Russes, the premiere of the piece in Paris in 1913 provoked outrage and riotous protests from the audience. People were scandalized by the work's startling costumes, unusual choreography, bizarre story of pagan sacrifice, and its score which was defined by dissonant harmonies and jarring rhythms. Yet, eventually the composition came to be viewed as a landmark of modernism and one of the true musical masterpieces of the twentieth century.
Stravinsky's first commission for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes and the one that made him an overnight success at the age of 28 was The Firebird. Based on a Russian folk tale about a magical bird, the work centers on the hero Ivan who enlists the bird to help him free 13 princesses who are being held captive by the evil Kastchei the Deathless. Stravinsky's score is highly colorful, imaginative and melodious. THE FIREBIRD SUITE, a 20-minute suite Stravinsky drew from his 45-minute full ballet score, will be performed as part of the August 6 program.
On August 7, the internationally esteemed 125-member Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia will share the stage with the Orchestra to present a performance of Beethoven's SYMPHONY NO. 9. Considered a work of musical genius and one of the most important orchestral pieces in the western classical repertoire, Beethoven's Ninth is his final complete symphony and the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. It is defined by its grandiose scale and structure as well as the innovation of the final movement setting Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy for chorus and vocal soloists.
Other notable works this season include the witty OVERTURE TO THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL (Aug.14), in recognition of the Centennial of iconic American composer Samuel Barber; Gershwin's jazz-inspired PIANO CONCERTO FOR PIANO IN F (Aug.11); Debussy's imaginative, Impressionistic, LA MER (Aug.12) and Brahms's cheerful SYMPHONY NO. 2 (Aug.18).  
Acclaimed Soloists
An exceptional lineup of classical soloists is scheduled to perform during the season including internationally acclaimed cellist YO-YO MA who will perform Opening Night. Ma, widely regarded as the world's greatest living cellist, will perform Sir Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. The work, which was last performed at SPAC in 1994, is regarded as among a handful of supreme concertos for cello.
Virtuoso violinist and former child prodigy SARAH CHANG (Aug. 18) will perform Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, a work recognized for its virtuosity and expressive power. The Philadelphia-born artist, who started her violin training at age 4 and began performing professionally at age 8, is an Avery Fisher Prize winner and sought-after soloist who performs with the major orchestras and chamber ensembles around the globe. Chang has been described as "a wonder" by the New York Times and lauded for her "flawless delivery, deep musical intelligenceÂ…," by the Irish Times.
Pianist GARRICK OHLSSON (Aug. 20) is regarded as a musician of interpretive and technical prowess. One of the world's leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. On August 20, he will perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 (colloquially known as "Rach 3"), a work famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer. It has the reputation of being one of the most difficult concertos in the standard piano repertoire. The work received wide popular attention after it was made famous by the movie Shine.
Other prominent soloists who will perform during the Orchestra season include: recent Gilmore Award winner KIRILL GERSTEIN (Aug. 6); piano virtuoso JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET (Aug.11) who will perform Gershwin's jazz-inspired Piano Concerto in F as part of an all-Gershwin program that also includes An American in Paris, I Got Rhythm variations for piano and orchestra, and Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture; superstar pianist ANDRÉ WATTS (Aug.14) who will perform Beethoven's much-beloved masterpiece, Piano Concerto No. 5 and classical pianist and rising star KHATIA BUNIATISHVILI (Aug. 21) who will make her SPAC and Philadelphia Orchestra debut performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.
Guest Conductors
Noted conductor PETER OUNDJIAN will make his first appearance at SPAC on August 18. Oundjian, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, is regarded as one of the most engaging figures on the conducting scene today. At the beginning of his tenure in Toronto , he created the hugely successful Mozart Festival as well as the New Creations Festival. He also holds a conducting and artistic position with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Other guest conductors appearing during the season include ROSSEN MILANOV (Aug. 13,14), Associate Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, who makes his first conducting appearance on SPAC's stage and who has been described by the Chicago Tribune as "one who bears watching by anyone who cares about the future of music;" accomplished orchestral and opera conductor LAWRENCE FOSTER (Aug. 20, 21) currently the Music Director of the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon and the Orchestre et Opéra National de Montpellier, France; celebrated pops conductor JEFF TYZIK (Aug. 5), who holds positions as Principal Pops Conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as well as with the Oregon Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and STEVEN REINEKE, Music Director of the New York Pops.
Pops Concerts 
Jeff Tyzik will conduct The Philadelphia Orchestra in an August 5 pops program that showcases the best Broadway hits of the last 100 years. A CENTURY OF BROADWAY begins with selections from earlier shows such as Showboat and My Fair Lady, and gradually moves towards more contemporary fare with featured music from West Side Story, Godspell, Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera. Two of Broadway's biggest stars will share the stage with the Orchestra that evening;soprano CHRISTIANE NOLL, who starred in Jekyll & Hyde and DOUG LA BRECQUE, best known for his leading role in The Phantom of the Opera.
New York Pops Conductor Steven Reineke leads, WICKED DIVAS, a concert of diva showstoppers from Broadway, opera and popular music highlighted by several selections from Tony-award winning Broadway musical Wicked. The program also includes favorites from Gypsy, Ragtime, Titanic and opera selections from George Bizet's Carmen.  
Farewell Concert for Charles Dutoit and Chantal Juillet
Among the biggest highlights of the season will be the August 12 "Farewell Concert" for Charles Dutoit and Chantal Juillet. Dutoit has been the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra's SPAC Season since 1990; Juillet has been the Director of the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival since 1991. Recently, each announced that the 2010 SPAC Season would be their last in these roles, citing a desire to devote more time to other artistic responsibilities.
In announcing the news, SPAC's President Marcia White praised Dutoit's SPAC legacy, noting that "his brilliant work has woven itself into the rich tapestry of SPAC's history." White also lauded Juillet's founding and leadership of SPAC's Chamber Music Festival, observing that she built a "dynamic series that is revered and sought-after by artists and audiences and highly praised by music critics."
Both Dutoit and Juillet, who were recently married, will participate in this special program. Dutoit will lead the Orchestra in performances of masterful works by Shostakovich, Debussy and Respighi. Chantal Juillet will be the evening's soloist, performing Korngold's Violin Concerto. The evening will conclude with a champagne toast to Dutoit and Juillet and a brilliant fireworks display.
Pre-Performance Promotions
Also announced were several pre-performance events that will occur during the Orchestra's season. The pre-events are free and open to all ticketholders for that evening's Orchestra performance. Events include:
§         Children's Workshops on the Lawn, August 6, 13 and 20 – These fun, educational programs presented by Orchestra musicians are designed to introduce children to the joys of music and foster greater understanding of the works they will hear on stage. Workshops take place on the apron in front of the Amphitheatre.
§         CDPHP Friday Family Nights, August 6, 13 and 20 – Children and families can enjoy free Stewart's ice cream, strolling magicians, face painting and more before Friday evening performances.
§         Thursday Date Nights, August 5, 12 and 19 – Wine tastings, entertainment and other pre-performance attractions.
§         Evening with an Artist, August 14 -- SPAC celebrates the arts by inviting professional and amateur visual artists to demonstrate their artistic skills on SPAC's lawn beginning at 6 p.m. Participating artists who arrive with an easel and stool will receive free lawn admission for themselves and a guest for the Orchestra performance. 
§         1812 Overture, Saturday, August 21 -- Approximately 60 colonial re-enactors will create "living history" military encampments on SPAC's lawn. The re-enactors, who will be firing live cannons at the conclusion of the Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, will be dressed in period costume and offer demonstrations and discussion on life during the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars. 
Ticket prices for SPAC's Orchestra performances start at $18 for lawn seats; inside seating ranges from $31 - $72.50. The "Kids Free on the Lawn" promotion entitles children 12 and under to free lawn admission for classical performances; middle school, high school and college student lawn admission is $10. Order forms for tickets to The Philadelphia Orchestra's SPAC season are available on SPAC's website at
or by contacting SPAC at 518.584.9330.