Concerts and Special Events
last year’s SPAC concert season—rife with noodle-dancing jam
bands, ’80s hair bands and “oldies but goodies”—we could have
jumped for joy when we heard the announcement that there was
to be some much-needed diversity in this summer’s concert
schedule. Think more modern rock acts, a splash of hiphop,
a rockabilly blues fest and even some operatic vocalists from
across the pond.
For those of you who missed the Channel 103.1 (WHRL-FM)’s
Big Day Out on June 4, featuring blink-182, Green Day and
Saves the Day, don’t fret: There is still another modern-rawk
show scheduled at SPAC this summer. Canadian metal band Nickelback,
touring in support of their second album, Silver Side Up,
will rock the amphitheatre on June 22. And if you are still
pining for the days when grunge and dirty flannel were all
the rage, this will be a must-see show: Joining the Nickelback
boys will be melancholy rocker Jerry Cantrell, former Alice
in Chains guitarist and songwriter. Believe us when we tell
you that Cantrell has not strayed far from his Seattle-circa-1995
roots. Pretty much everything we’ve heard on his solo albums
sounds like classic AIC, only more moody and depressing. Bet
you didn’t think that was even possible.
those of you who complain that SPAC could use a little more
soul—and perhaps even some sexing up—SFX has heard your plea.
The “Queen of Hiphop/Soul,” Mary J. Blige and Refugee Camp
Allstar Wyclef Jean promise to get it crunk (which we think
translates roughly to “party their asses off”) on the SPAC
stage on Aug. 6. Blige, a celebrated veteran of the urban-music
scene, has actually been rocking the pop charts these days
with her 2001 release, No More Drama. She will be joined
by the rough-and-ready, politically conscious Jean, who, as
you may recall, rose to fame as a Fugee with Lauryn Hill.
There will be no lawn seats for the Blige/Jean show, and tickets
go on sale on June 8; we recommend that you get yours early,
as this show is likely to sell out fast.
The hills around SPAC will be alive with the sound of music,
as they say, when the Irish Tenors stop into the venue on
Aug. 25. Bring some extra tissues for this show, because there’s
not likely to be a dry eye in the audience when the celebrated
trio of Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan break
into such heart-rending Irish ballads as “Town That I Loved
So Well” and “Danny Boy.”
of press time, other highlights of the season included: July
6, An Evening with Rush; July 14, Melissa Etheridge; and on
Aug. 30, B.B. King will haul his sweet Lucille onto the SPAC
stage for the B.B. King Blues Festival with the Fabulous Thunderbirds,
Susan Tedeschi and Albert Cummings.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a true SPAC season without a
couple of the usual suspects who seem to gravitate to the
venue every year: Expect performances from Tom Petty, the
Dave Matthews Band (two nights!), the Allman Brothers and
the Oldies 98.3 (WTRY-FM) Annual Oldies Show.
The following is an up-to-date listing of the SPAC summer
concert schedule. But don’t forget to check our club and concert
listings regularly—as summer wears on, we’ll fill you in on
all the last-minute additions.
prices vary, so see the “SPAC Facts” box at the end of this
section for information. All shows begin at 7:30 PM unless
otherwise noted, but times and dates are subject to change.
June 14: Harry Connick Jr. (amphitheatre only).
June 15: Bad Company, Foreigner, Joe Bonamasso (7
June 22: Nickelback, Jerry Cantrell (amphitheatre
June 23: Chicago.
July 5: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
July 6: Rush.
July 7: Dick Fox’s Doo Wop Extravaganza with Johnny Maestro
& the Brooklyn Bridge, the Tokens, the Shangri-la’s,
the Del-Vikings, the Jive Five, Frankie Lyman’s
Teenagers, the Harptones, the Brooklyn Reunion
July 14: Melissa Etheridge.
July 21: Barry Manilow, Curtis Stigers.
July 28-29: Dave Matthews Band (7 PM).
Aug. 4: Bonnie Raitt & Lyle Lovett.
Aug. 6: Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean (amphitheatre
Aug. 11: Santana, Rusted Root.
Aug. 20: the Allman Brothers, Galactic.
Aug. 25: the Irish Tenors.
Aug. 30: B.B. King Blues Festival with B.B. King, Fabulous
Thunderbirds, Susan Tedeschi, Albert Cummings (6:30
for the Jazz Fest are available directly from SPAC. Prices
for the June 29 show are $50 for adults, $42.50 for kids under
12 (amphitheatre); $35 for adults, $15 for kids under 12 (lawn).
Advance adult lawn seats for June 29 are $32.50, and they
are available until June 28. Prices for the June 30 show are
$45 for adults, $40 for kids under 12 (amphitheatre); $33.20
for adults, $15 for kids under 12 (lawn). Advance adult lawns
seats for July 1 are $30, and they are available until June
28. Kids under 2 are allowed on the lawn free of charge for
June 29 (noon-midnight)—Amphitheatre: Manhattan Transfer’s
30th Anniversary Tour; Directions in Music: the Music of
Miles Davis and John Coltrane featuring Herbie Hancock,
Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove; Dave Koz &
Friends—A Smooth Summer Night featuring Norman Brown
& Brian Culbertson with special guest James Ingram;
War; Regina Carter Quintet; Dave Holland Quintet; Kurt
Elling Quartet; Soulive; Gerald Veasley. Gazebo: Gerald
Veasley, Sunny Sumter, Roni Ben-Hur Quintet, Cole Broderick,
Bern Nix Trio.
June 30 (noon-10:30 PM)—Amphitheatre: Natalie Cole, Wynton
Marsalis Septet, FourPlay, Cassandra Wilson, Roy Haynes
Quartet, Angelique Kidjo, Steve Turre Quintet, Moutin Reunion
Quartet. Gazebo: Moutin Reunion Quartet, Living Daylights,
Onaje Allan Gumbs Group, Vijay Iyer Quartet, Ray Vega Latin
New York City Ballet returns to the Saratoga Performing Arts
Center for its 37th season, July 9-27, with the friendliest
season in many a summer. Reprise performances of popular favorites
Vienna Waltzes, Fancy Free, Who
Cares? and In G Major, all of which were last shown
at SPAC in 1996, should bring audiences back for a fresh look.
Above all, this is a season of welcoming, easy-to-read ballets,
the kind that make your heart glow on a summer night. Jerome
Robbin’s Fancy Free, set to Leonard Bernstein’s music,
is a romp by three sailors out on the town. Who Cares?
is Balanchine’s tip of the hat to Gershwin show tunes, including
a sultry duet to The Man I Love; and Robbins’ In
G Major is Ravel playing at Gershwin while the dancers
in Art Deco sundresses play at the beach.
Then, there’s Balanchine’s rollicking Tarantella and
his expressionistic Bible story, Prodigal Son, with
music by Prokofiev and décor by Georges Rouault.
For family audiences, Firebird is just the ticket,
filled with Russian princesses, a brave prince, fabulous leaping
monsters, in costumes designed by Marc Chagall, and a magical,
glittering red bird who dances so fast, she almost flies.
Plus, there’s a lovely wedding at the end in which local youngsters
who were chosen in competitive auditions will get to pass
the pastries. The flashing Stravinsky music makes Firebird
exciting for children, beautiful for grownups.
All these dances have color and snap to catch the novice’s
eye; yet, they’re ingeniously structured and require great
skill and commitment from the dancers. They should hold the
interest of knowledgeable ballet fans while bringing a smile
to first-time balletgoers.
Music director Andrea Quinn, who zipped in and out of SPAC
last year to conduct a couple of performances of Midsummer
Night’s Dream, should stay a little longer this summer.
The NYCB Orchestra is said to love her. New York critics say
the orchestra has gained new life under her baton.
This season also marks the fifth dip into the treasure chest
of ballets known as the Diamond Project, named for its chief
funder, Irene Diamond. A forum for new choreographers, the
Diamond Project has given NYCB dancers including Christopher
Wheeldon and Miriam Mahdaviani the chance to walk a new path
as choreographers. Previous Diamond years (1992, 1994, 1997
and 2000) have yielded “keeper” dances that are still in the
The company is honoring the 10th season of the Diamond Project
by bringing back several gems from past seasons. SPAC audiences
will see three of these: Ancient Airs and Dances (1992)
by Richard Tanner, to music of Resphigi; Peter Martins’ Jeu
de Cartes (1992), to Stravinsky; and Concerto in Five
Movements (1997) by principal dancer Robert LaFosse, to
music of Prokofiev.
While the spring season in New York City will premiere seven
new Diamonds, SPAC will present only three. Since some have
yet to debut in the city, we can only guess which three will
come north. However, I’ll bet that the dances made by NYCB
dancers have an edge. These are Haiku by Albert Evans,
to piano and percussion pieces of John Cage; a work by corps
member Melissa Barak, to a sonata by Shostakovich; and ballet’s
veteran Diamond-cutters Wheeldon and Mahdaviani. Of course,
ballet master in chief Peter Martins has contributed a Diamond,
The final two Diamonds come from outside NYCB. Stephen Baynes,
resident choreographer for the Australian Ballet, made Twilight
Courante, a lavender and wine romance, to Handel’s keyboard
suites, and Mauro Bigonzetti, artistic director of Italy’s
Aterballetto, has made Vespro, which features the high-flying
Benjamin Millepied at the center of a large cast of witty
For those who like to keep score, the SPAC season includes
26 ballets in all: 11 by Balanchine, six by Jerome Robbins,
three by Martins, and five by Diamond choreographers, old
and new. Firebird, that rich, red Russian folktale,
to music of Stravinsky and décor by Chagall, is a collaboration
between Balanchine and Robbins.
Saratoga premieres, besides the three Diamond Project ballets,
include Martins’ Hallelujah Junction, a black-and-white
affair, to choppy piano music of John Adams, plus an unnamed
new ballet that will be performed only once at the Gala, July
Forty-eight young dancers, at least half of them from this
region, will perform in Robbins’ Circus Polka, which
was first made by Balanchine, to music of Stravinksy, for
a corps of young elephants from the Ringling Bros. Circus.
Now, it’s danced by groups of “yellow girls, pink girls, green
girls and blue girls,” who step to the count of a Ringmaster.
The dance is short, but quite demanding, and should be fun
for youngsters to watch.
Serious balletgoers who favor the spare, mathematical dances
that Balanchine did so brilliantly will be happy to see Agon
and the traditional coupling of Monumentum pro Gesualdo
and Movements for Piano and Orchestra, all Stravinsky,
bone-colored and tight as a drum.
Finally, balletic glory, thrilling to novice and veteran audiences
alike, is to be found in the midnight sky look of Serenade,
set to Tchaikovsky, and the dazzling white satin of Bizet’s
Symphony in C with its haunting French horn in the
York City Ballet
York City Ballet performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:15
PM, with matinees at 2 PM on Thursdays and Saturdays. For
in-depth information on the season, visit www.spac.org and
July 9: All-Balanchine program, with Serenade, Agon,
July 10: Raymonda Variations, New Diamond Project
Ballet No. 1, Fancy Free.
July 11: Matinee—all-American program, with Interplay,
Fancy Free, Who Cares? Evening—Serenade,
New Diamond Project Ballet No. 1, In G Major.
July 12: All-Stravinsky program, with Jeu de Cartes,
July 13: Matinee—Raymonda Variations, Interplay,
Firebird. Evening—Serenade, Fancy Free,
Jeu de Cartes.
July 16: Ancient Airs and Dances, New Diamond Project
No. 2, Firebird.
July 17: All-Robbins program, with Circus Polka,
Interplay, Opus 19/The Dreamer, I’m Old
July 18: Matinee—Raymonda Variations, In G Major,
Who Cares? Evening—Agon, New Diamond Project
Ballet No. 2, I’m Old Fashioned.
July 19: All-Robbins program, with Monumentum/Movements,
Tarantella, Opus 19/The Dreamer, Jeu de
July 20: Matinee—Circus Polka, Monumentum/Movements,
Ancient Airs and Dances, In G Major. Evening
Gala Performance—Hallelujah Junction, Tschaikovsky
Pas de Deux, New Ballet (performed tonight only), Vienna
Waltzes (25th Anniversary).
July 23: Concerto in Five Movements, Opus 19/The
Dreamer, Vienna Waltzes.
July 24: All-Diamond Project program, with Ancient Airs
and Dances, New Diamond Project Ballet No. 3, Concerto
in Five Movements.
July 25: Matinee—Circus Polka, Hallelujah Junction,
Prodigal Son, Symphony in C. Evening—all-Balanchine
program, with Prodigal Son, Monumentum/Movements,
Tarantella, Vienna Waltzes.
July 26: Symphony in C, New Diamond Project Ballet
No. 3, I’m Old Fashioned.
July 27: Matinee—Concerto in Five Movements, Prodigal
Son, Symphony in C. Evening—Hallelujah Junction,
Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, New Diamond Project Ballet
No. 2, Symphony in C.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s classical music offerings
have settled, over the years, into three complementary programs.
First are the Philadelphia Orchestra’s August amphitheatre
concerts. These provide the warhorses, the crowd pleasers,
music familiar enough that it fades comfortably into the background,
music played courageously enough that it can thrill the aficionado.
Then there’s the chamber music festival, drawing on main-theater
musicians, but in a more intimate setting and with more adventurous
programming. Nothing controversial, of course, but at least
it’s a chance to have your ears bent a little by extremely
And the opera lovers get the Lake George Opera for two productions
in the Spa Little Theatre—this year it’s Donizetti’s Daughter
of the Regiment, sung in French with projected supertitles,
but with spoken dialogue in English. This is because the opera
company has lost its courage in the face of opera snobs who
realize that having a foreign language involved helps keep
their club exclusive (why else have a club?). Anyway, it will
be presented at a gala opening party at on July 6, with performances
July 9, 11 and 13. Mozart’s Abduction From the Seraglio
gets a similar treatment (songs in German, dialogue in
English, for a composer who turned away from snob-appeal Italian
so his audiences would understand his operas) with performances
July 7, 10, 12 and 14
The orchestra’s grand opening is July 31 with Yo-Yo Ma playing
the world’s most popular cello concerto; other soloists that
week include violinist Sarah Chang with the Brahms concerto
and Kathleen Battle with favorite opera arias.
Week number two is all Beethoven, a highlight of which is
two Martha Argerich appearances: First the Piano Concerto
No. 1, then the tough-to-program Triple Concerto.
Powerhouse pianist Yefim Bronfman plays the Emperor
that Saturday, followed by the Ninth Symphony.
The final week is big on pops—an all-Tchaikovsky program,
Erich Kunzel conducts music by Richard Rodgers—but in the
midst of it, percussionist Evelyn Glennie and violinist Joshua
Bell headline a bang-up concert that includes James MacMillan’s
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.
MacMillan has gained a reputation as a fiery young composer
whose passions are expressed in exciting musical scores, and
he is composer-in-residence for this year’s Chamber Music
program, with starts July 30 with guest Sarah Chang. Aug.
6 sees a tribute to Ned Rorem, featuring the world premiere
of his Trio for Oboe, Violin and Piano (Commissioned
by SPAC to mark Rorem’s 80th birthday), and Martha Argerich
takes the stage on Aug. 11 with cellist Mischa Maisky and
violinist Vadim Repin in music by Schumann and Shostakovich.
More by MacMillan on Aug. 12, with guest violinist Ida Haendel
joining music director Chantal Juillet, and Aug. 13, when
pianist Bronfman also plays Schumann’s Quintet.
Philadelphia Orchestra is in residence July 31-Aug. 17. Performances
take place at 8:15 PM in the amphitheatre with artistic director
Charles Dutoit conducting unless otherwise noted. Tickets
are $20-$52.50, $14.50 lawn. The following listings include
highlights of each program; for full details, visit www.spac.org
or contact SPAC for a written schedule.
July 31: Grand Opening with Yo-Yo Ma on cello, featuring
Berlioz’s Overture, Roman Carnival, Stravinsky’s
Petrushka and Dvorák’s Cello Concerto.
Aug 1: A Hero’s Life with Sarah Chang on violin,
featuring Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Strauss’ Ein
Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life).
Aug. 2: Bel Canto with soprano Kathleen Battle singing
Bellini’s Overture to Norma, Rossini’s “Pas de Six”
from William Tell and Overture to Semiramide,
Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda
and Respighi’s The Pines of Rome.
Aug. 3: All-French Program with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on
piano, featuring Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of
the Faun, Saint-Saëns’ “Egyptian” Piano Concerto No.
5 and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
Aug. 7: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Symphony
No. 7 with Gil Shaham on violin.
Aug. 8: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Symphony No.
3 (“Eroica”) with Martha Argerich on piano.
Aug. 9: Martha Argerich on piano, Ida Haendel
on violin and Mischa Maisky on cello featuring Beethoven’s
Leonore Overture No. 3, Triple Concerto and
Symphony No. 5.
Aug. 10: The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia with
music director Alan Harler and Yefim Bronfman
on piano, featuring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5
(“Emperor”) and Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”).
Aug. 14: A Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Vadim Repin
on violin and Mischa Maisky on cello, featuring Marche
Slave, Violin Concerto, Variations on a Rococo
Theme (for cello and orchestra) and 1812 Overture.
Aug. 15: A Celebration of the 100th Birthday of Richard
Rodgers with conductor Erich Kunzel, featuring works
Aug 16: Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Evelyn Glennie
on percussion and Joshua Bell on violin featuring
Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, MacMillan’s
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (for percussion and orchestra),
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, and Ravel’s “Suite
No. 2” from the ballet Daphnis and Cloé.
Aug. 17: Those Fabulous Philadelphians with David
Kim on violin, featuring Strauss’ Don Juan, Bruch’s
Violin Concerto No. 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony
Chamber Music Festival
Saratoga Chamber Music Festival takes place July 30-Aug. 18.
Performances (in the Spa Little Theater) are 2:15 PM on Sundays
and 8:15 PM on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets are $27.50 and
$32.50. The music director is Chantal Juillet and the 2002
composer-in-residence is James MacMillan.
July 30: Fantasia with special guest Sarah Chang
featuring Caplet’s Fantastique (for harp and string
quartet), Saint-Saëns’ Fantaisie for harp and violin,
Scloenberg’s Fantasy opus 47 for violin and piano
and Bizet-Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.
Aug. 5: Songs with Kathleen Battle and Jean-Yves
Thibaudet with Chantel Juillet on violin featuring
Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor and Sonata
No. 1 in A major for violin and piano, and Liszt’s Songs.
Aug. 6: A Tribute to Ned Rorem and Return of Special Guest
Gil Shaham with Chantel Juillet and Gil Shaham
on violin and Richard Woodhams on oboe featuring
Brahm’s String Quintet in F major.
Aug. 11: First Encounter: Martha Argerich, Vadim
Repin and Mischa Maisky together on stage featuring
Schumann’s Sonata for violin and piano in A minor,
opus 105 and Phantasiestücke for piano, violin and
cello, opus 88, Shostakovich’s Sonata for cello and
piano in d minor, opus 40, and Piano trio #2in e minor,
Aug. 12: MacMillan, Brahms and Legendary Violinist Ida
Haendel featuring MacMillan’s 14 Little Pictures
for piano trio, Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 for violin and
piano in d minor, opus 108, and Ravel’s Tzigane.
Aug. 13: Bronfman and Schumann with Yefim Bronfman
on piano, Chantal Juillet on violin and members
of the Philadelphia Orchestra, featuring works by MacMillan
Aug. 18: Young Artists Concert featuring young American
students to perform one of Beethoven’s masterpieces and
MacMillan String Quartet. Students were recruited by Chantal
Lake George Opera prod-uctions will be presented in the Spa
Little Theater. Tickets are $38-$58 adults, $33-$53 seniors
and students (evenings) and $33-$48 adults, $28-$43 seniors
and students (matinees). The shows are Donizetti’s The
Daughter of the Regiment (July 6, 6 PM; July 9, 11,
7:30 PM and July 13, 2 PM) and Mozart’s The Abduction
From the Seraglio (July 7, 14, 2 PM and July 10, 12,
Performing Arts Center is in Saratoga Spa State Park,
Saratoga Springs, and is accessible from routes 9 and
50. Tickets for all SPAC events may be purchased through
Ticketmaster (476-1000, www.ticketmaster.com) or the
SPAC Box Office (587-3330). The SPAC box office is located
by the Route 50 parking lot, and is open Monday through
Saturday, 10 AM-6 PM. It is closed Sunday unless there
is a performance, in which case it opens at 1 PM. On
event days, the box office is open till showtime. The
Hall of Springs box office opens two hours before each