Displaying items by tag: SPAC

Photos by SuperSource  Media, LLC. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — This year’s Ballet Gala, Apollo & The Muses: A Summer Celebration, was staged July 20, 2019 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. 

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 18 July 2019 13:49

NYCB Returns to SPAC

Photos by SuperSourceMedia, LLC. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — New York City Ballet returned to Saratoga Performing Arts Center July 16 with an opening night celebration of three of Balanchine’s iconic ballets set to Tschaikovsky’s compositions.

Serenade, the first original ballet Balanchine created in America, is a milestone in the history of dance and remains a beloved, luminous work in the repertoire. 

Mozartiana, choreographed to a Tschaikovsky composition derived from Mozart piano pieces, creates an atmosphere of hushed contemplation. Balanchine first choreographed to this music at the start of his career in 1933, and nearly 50 years later, he returned to the score to create a new ballet, one of his last works. 

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 is an ebullient work of classical virtuosity for 27 dancers.

Published in Entertainment
Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the New York City Ballet (NYCB) taking residence in Saratoga Springs, local dance studios have the opportunity to share the elite company with the community. For its 21st year, the Total Body Trifecta Fitness Studio (TBTFS) will host two classes taught by NYCB dancers. But these classes are unique, because not only are they beginner classes, they cater more to 44 years and up demographic. 
“Some of them danced back in the day, but the majority of them just really love ballet movement and they want to experience ballet at their level,” said Mary Anne Fantauzzi, studio owner. “The bonus is it’s taught by real dancers from New York City Ballet who have a real talent for working with any level dancers.” 
Instead of leotards and tights, participants are encouraged to wear sneakers and fitness clothes, as the ballet class taught by Craig Hall will be High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT) infused. The NYCB dancers teaching the class wear athletic attire as well. 
“It is a very fun, relaxing, noncompetitive atmosphere and we get to know the dancers up close and personal. That’s the ambiance,” said Fantauzzi. 
A unique aspect of the classes being taught at TBTFS is that the teachers who instruct the classes are personally chosen by the preceding dancer who taught there before them. This has been the tradition for the past 21 years. This year will be Gilbert Bolden III’s first year teaching at TBTFS and he has choreographed a piece for this class. 
“It’s such a treat for us! Imagine choreography that someone in the ballet made specifically for people of our level and the older adults,” 
 said Fantauzzi. 
The choreography is inspired by the ballet Coppelia. Coppelia will also be performed by the NYCB at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in July. 
“In these classes, it’s not about how far you turn out, it’s not about how high you jump, it’s all about just having fun and feeling like you are a dancer for that hour,” said Fantazzi. 
The classes have limited space, roughly 15 to 20 people. To learn more information and register for a class, go to www. totalbodytrifecta.com. 
Published in Education
Thursday, 27 June 2019 16:51

Ballet in Spa City

Photo credits from left to right: 
1. Photo by Mark Andrews Images.
2. Ashley Bouder teaching Ballet in the City class at Saratoga City Ballet. Photo by April Singleton.
3. NYCB Dancer Megan LeCrone teaching Ballet in the City class at Saratoga City Ballet. Photo by April Singleton.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — For the second year, Saratoga City Ballet will host a summer filled with ballet activities for all ages.

“This summer we have a bunch of programs and we do have programs for ages three to adult. For the first time this year we’re doing the story book ballet camp,” said Traci Jersen, President of the Saratoga City Ballet Board.

For young dancers ages three to six the program called Storybook Ballet will provide the young dancers to engage in stories such as Coppelia and Sleeping Beauty through the art of dance. The course is taught by the founder of Story Dance Studios, Jen Manino.

“Jen does a whole program where she’s reading the story to them. She uses props, she does a craft around the ballet, has the music from the ballet, has some older students demonstrating some steps for the kids, making tutus - It’s not just about the dance itself, it’s about teaching them the story,” said Jersen.

In addition, there will be a variety of classes for all levels, for ages seven through adult. The master classes will be taught by an Ohio-based not-for-profit company called Ballet in the City. Their objective is to introduce ballet to cities throughout the country. This year New York City Ballet (NYCB) principal dancers Megan Lacrone, Ashley Bouder, Sarah Merns, and Harrison Ball will be teaching.

NYCB will not only have their dancers teaching courses, they will be performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) for the NYCB Gala on July 20.

“Ballet in the City is also going to the ballet gala this year which they did last year… Ballet in the City has choreographed a piece that our dancers will be dancing in,” said Jersen. “Different dance programs across the capitol region on the lawn party will be dancing. It’s a really great opportunity for students of dance throughout the community to participate in the ballet gala.”

For any questions on taking part in this artistic opportunity, visit saratogacityballet.com.

Published in Education
Thursday, 28 March 2019 13:20

The Calming Grace of Elizabeth Sobol


CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center Reflects on Her Role

Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, has a secret weapon: silence. Running the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), a summer venue that hosts world-renowned talent and attracts more than 500,000 audience members per year, is a formidable challenge, but Sobol leads operations with a remarkable calm.

Unfazed by the demands on her attention that come with the position, Sobol finds her focus through stillness. “In order to discover where you are on a particular topic or what’s important to you,” said Sobol, “you need to get rid of distraction.”

Early in her career, Sobol began a meditation practice and found it to be one of the most mind-blowing experiences of her life helping her to understand the subconscious voices that were guiding her behavior, giving her the space to block out distractions, and allowing her to appreciate the beauty around her. “If you don’t cultivate that quiet, and you don’t cultivate that sense of presence in the moment,” Sobol said, “you miss a lot of what’s important in life.”

Sobol is committed to bettering herself, to learning from others, and to bringing light and beauty into the world. With refreshing openness, she said that she tries every day to be a better person. “I want to learn more about the world, to appreciate its complexities and beauties…and to be kind to people.”

A Lifelong Commitment to the Arts

Elizabeth Sobol grew up studying classical piano and, from the age of 13, attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Conservatory. Realizing that she’d never become a top professional pianist, Sobol focused, instead, on a career in arts management.  She began her professional life at IMG Artists, where she represented performers across a variety of genres, working with talent as diverse as Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, Bill T. Jones, and Kodo Drummers. She stayed with IMG for nearly 30 years, working her way up to Managing Director.

After IMG, Sobol became President of Universal Music Classics in NYC, where the label released albums by artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Tori Amos and Renee Fleming. She joined Saratoga Performing Arts Center as its President and CEO, in 2016, overseeing operations from a light-filled office in the heart of SPAC’s state-park locale.

Building Audiences

Throughout her career, Sobol has strived to balance commercial vs. non-commercial interests. “My biggest challenge has always been that I’m often drawn to more artistic enterprise than strictly commercial enterprise.  I personally prefer jazz and classical and world music to Pop and Rock; and literature and poetry to ‘entertainment.’ But it’s a challenge that I love taking on” she said. “How do we get people excited in artists and genres that they’ve never heard of before, that they’re not going to hear on the radio, that they probably won’t see in a movie?”

Sobol is convinced that collaboration and cross-genre experiments are the key to growing audiences. Throughout her career, Sobol has always gravitated toward artists who wanted to step outside their lanes. With collaboration, she explained, “now all of a sudden, you’ve got the world of classical and the world of jazz, or the world of classical and the world of bluegrass, or whatever it is…and now you have one plus one equaling much more than two.”

To build interest in SPAC’s offerings, Sobol started the SPAC-on-Stage program, a series that seats audiences on stage for intimate, visceral performances that go way beyond the genres SPAC has been traditionally known for. With SPAC-on-Stage “we’re combining that cross-genre take on classical music, for instance, and trying to create experiences that don’t feel like what people think of when they think classical music.”

The Importance of Live Performance

Technology has long been feared as a threat to live performances. With the arrival of each new communications medium -- radio, film, recorded music, and television -- people have worried that the demand for live performances would decline. “Yet,” said Sobol, “that’s never happened.”

“People crave that communal experience,” Sobol said, “and I believe that when you’re having those communal experiences the barriers between people disappear.”

That, she said, makes SPAC  more than a performing arts center; it “becomes the heart of the community, a place where human beings can connect, share, and experience beauty together.”

Sobol also noted that engaging in the arts--whether as a performer or as an audience member--cultivates “compassion and empathy,” and “there’s nothing that we need more in today’s society than compassion and empathy.”

A Home for All Cultures

While SPAC has always drawn international talent, Sobol aims to bring in performances from a wide range of cultures.  “Making sure that we’re bringing in new cultures and sharing cultures among the community is really important to me,” Sobol said. 

When the Sachal Ensemble, a Pakistani music group whom she recorded an album with at Universal, performed at SPAC in 2017, Sobol reached out to the Pakistani community via an Albany-based Pakistani filmmaker, drawing many local Pakistanis to the performance.

“The intent is to broaden the audience,” Sobol said on bringing in international talent, “and for SPAC to be a place for people of all cultures to feel like they have a home here because of what we’re presenting.”


In terms of her management style, Sobol favors a flat organization, encouraging cooperation and tolerance. Sobol appreciates open minds, too. When she toured SPAC during her interview, for instance, she fell in love with the Jazz Bar and was surprised the spot wasn’t used for live music. Apparently, a live music program had been tried at that location years previously, and it wasn’t popular, so it wasn’t tried again. Sobol, who believes in the Zen Buddhism concept of the Beginner’s Mind, came into the situation without preconceived notions and made launching a live music program at the Jazz Bar one of her first initiatives at SPAC. The Jazz Bar, featuring such performers as the Chuck Lamb Quartet, Annie & the Hedonists, Alta Havana, and Hot Club of Saratoga, has been a huge success with an average of 350 people in attendance each night. 

Finding Joy

Also important to Sobol is reading, voraciously; she reads three or four books per week on topics ranging from new literary fiction, to botany, to physics.  “The more you read,” she stated, “the more you see, feel and sense how everything is connected.”

A curious world citizen, Sobol has traveled widely, can dance salsa, and learned Spanish in her 40s. She is married to Cuban jazz pianist Jorge Gomez, and thanks the influence of the Cuban culture for reminding her to take joy in each moment.

As for the advice she’d give to young people, Sobol, the woman whose livelihood depends on sounds and music, didn’t hesitate: “Learn to love silence and stillness,” she said. “Disconnect from your devices. Be curious. Be brave. Be kind.”   

Sophie Cianfarani   

A student-driven communications agency, the SMARTACUS Creative Group is dedicated to the economic and cultural development of Upstate New York. 
A senior in Jill Cowburn’s journalism class at Saratoga Springs
High School, Sophie Cianfarani aspires to be a professor of psychology or a clinical psychologist. She enjoys doing volunteer work, visiting a local elementary school weekly to teach Latin to grade school children. She also enjoys playing violin and rowing.

Published in Lifestyle

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Twenty-two musical groups, highlighted by the Saratoga Performing Arts Center debut of Norah Jones and the return of George Benson and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, are slated to perform at the 2019 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival June 29-30.

“I am over the moon to have Norah Jones featured at the jazz festival for the first time. And we welcome back, with open arms and hearts, the legendary George Benson, who will make his 12th festival appearance and first since 2009,” said Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment, in a statement. “The festival has a deep history of, and is committed to, presenting important and diverse new artists and this year’s edition continues that tradition with Kandace Springs, Veronica Swift, Antonio Sanchez, Cha Wa, Donna Grantis, Youn Sun Nah and Kansas Smitty’s House Band.”

Back by popular demand is Los Van Van 50th Anniversary, Django Festival All-Stars with Edmar Castañeda and Grace Kelly, Joshua Redman Quartet, and James Carter Organ Trio. Fifteen emerging artists making their Saratoga debuts include Kandace Springs, Donna Grantis, Joey DeFrancesco Trio, Mercy Project which features Jon Cowherd, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Steve Cardenas, Antonio Sanchez & Migration, and Cha Wa. The festival will also feature a record number of groups led by women artists, highlighted by Allison Miller, Veronica Swift, Ruthie Foster and Youn Sun Nah. 

The festival takes place Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.  Performances will begin on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage at noon and 11 a.m., respectively, and on the main Amphitheater Stage at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.

SPAC also announced that Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Friday will return on Friday, June 28, when scores of live jazz events, themed dining, and social dance options will be held in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Founded in 1978 by jazz impresario George Wein, Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival is the fifth longest-consecutive-running jazz festival in North America. Initially founded as “the Newport Jazz Festival at Saratoga” the weekend event was renamed Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival in 1998.  With an inside seating capacity of 5,200, and lawn seating of 20,000, the two-day, two-stage festival continues to be one of the largest jazz music events in North America.

Tickets for the festival will be available online at www.spac.org beginning Feb. 15 to the general public and starting on Feb. 4 to SPAC members. Single-day adult tickets range: $68 lawn, $78-$108 inside; Two-day pass: $116 lawn, $136-$196 inside.  also, $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 15 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Seating is best available with some exclusions. Lawn seating is free for children ages 15 and under. Parking for the event is free. For more information, go to: spac.org.  

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announced its 2019 lineup which features the summertime return of the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

The New York City Ballet residency (July 16 – 20) once again features four distinct programs including the story ballet Coppélia, which was premiered at SPAC, an evening dedicated to Balanchine and Tschaikovsky, and a program showcasing four SPAC Premieres by 21st century choreographers, highlighted by Kyle Abraham’s The Runaway, which fuses modern and classical technique and an eclectic soundtrack mixing composer Nico Muhly, singer James Blake, and hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West. The annual New York City Ballet Gala, on Saturday, July 20, will showcase George Balanchine’s Apollo, Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth and a new piece by NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck.

New York City Ballet - Tschaikovsky and Balanchine - Tuesday, July 16 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, July 18 at 2 p.m..; SPAC Premieres by 21st Century Choreographers - Wednesday, July 17 at 8 p.m.; Coppélia - Thursday, July 18 at 8 p.m., Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 20 at 2 p.m.

SPAC’s NYC Ballet Gala - Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m. The finale to New York City Ballet’s 2019 residency will be highlighted by Balanchine's first collaboration with Stravinsky and one of his earliest international successes, Apollo. Also: This Bitter Earth (Richter, Otis/Wheeldon) and Justin Peck’s new work – his fourth collaboration with Oscar-nominated composer Sufjan Stevens. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s three-week residency (July 31 – Aug. 17) will be highlighted by 19 SPAC premieres. Back by popular demand will be SPAC’s “Cinema Series,” as the orchestra accompanies, live to picture, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert (Aug. 3); Disney Pixar’s Up in Concert (Aug. 10) and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights in Concert (Aug. 14). The season will, once again, showcase two weeks under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and of The Metropolitan Opera. Nézet-Séguin will conduct the closing night performance of Mozart’s Requiem.

The Orchestra’s 2019 season will also feature a line-up of acclaimed and emerging artists appearing at SPAC for the first time. Performing with The Philadelphia Orchestra is Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Aug. 15) and classical pianist Christian Blackshaw (Aug. 17); making their SPAC debuts in 2019 are young, virtuosic pianists Janice Carissa (Aug. 2) and Jan Lisiecki (Aug. 16), Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Aug. 9), and the dancers of PHILADANCO (July 31) in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s opening night performance.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center returns, from Aug. 4-20, with a roster of internationally celebrated artists at the Spa Little Theatre featuring 23 works performed by CMS at SPAC for the first time. In addition to performances by David Finckel and Wu Han, co-artistic directors of CMS in residency for all three weekends, audiences can look forward to the return of the Escher Quartet, plus debut appearances by Chinese violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, British flutist Adam Walker, Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova and renowned American cellist Keith Robinson.

Tickets available online at www.spac.org starting 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 14 to SPAC members and Thursday, Jan. 29 to the general public.

NYC Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra – (Matinee Performances) Front Orchestra: $53.00 - $63.00; Rear Orchestra: $43.00 - $53.00; Balcony: $28.00 - $63.00; Lawn: $18.00. (Evening Performances) Front Orchestra: $63.00 - $113.00; Rear Orchestra: $43.00 - $83.00; Balcony: $33.00 - $103.00; Lawn: $29.00 - $34.00. (NYC Ballet Gala) Front Orchestra: $98.00 - $128.00; Rear Orchestra: $68.00 - $98.00; Balcony: $58.00 - $108.00; Lawn: $58.00.        

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – (Center Orchestra, Center Balcony: $53.00; Side Orchestra, Side Balcony: $48.00.

Children ages 15 and under are free on the lawn (excluding NYCB Gala & American Girl Night). Children 15 and under are $20 in the amphitheater. Individuals 29 and under are $29 in the amphitheater (day of show only); SPAC members receive a 15% discount on tickets purchased before the day of the show.

For more information, go to: SPAC.org.

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 21 September 2018 15:37

Ringo in Saratoga

“They're gonna put me in the movies... They're gonna make a big star out of me…”

SARATOGA SPRINGS –   Fifty-three years to the day since the Beatles recorded a live performance of their song “Act Naturally” on the Ed Sullivan show, Ringo Starr revisited the tune at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center during an appearance with his All Starr (sic) Band. 

The two-hour-long, 24-song set was evenly split between a dozen Ringo-led tunes, and three songs apiece performed by each of the four main other players of the ensemble.

Ringo assumed vocal duties on songs once performed, if not written by The Beatles, including: Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” “Boys” – popularized by The Shirelles, and the previously mentioned “Act Naturally” - a tune originally recorded by Buck Owens.

From The Beatles canon, Ringo tinkled some on the keyboards and sang “Don’t Pass Me By” and took mic in hand at center stage for “With A Little Help From My Friends,”  “What Goes On” – which he introduced as “the only song written by Lennon, McCartney and Starkey,” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” – which in 1963 the Beatles wrote for, and gave to, the Rolling Stones.  Perhaps the night’s greatest joy was delivered in a full theater sing-a-long of “Yellow Submarine.”

Starr, with a little help from his friends, returned to the venue for the first time since August 1989. At that time, his All Stars Band consisted of Joe Walsh, The Band’s Levon Helm and Rick Danko, Dr. John, Billy Preston, and Clarence Clemons and Nils Lofgren, who were on hiatus from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. 

This time around, the ensemble featured prolific studio musician and Toto guitarist Steve Luthaker who led a performance of that group’s hits “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and “Hold the Line.” Guitarist Colin Hay revisited his time with the band Men at Work, singing “Who Can It Be Now,” “Down Under,” and “Overkill.” Original Santana keyboard player and vocalist r Gregg Rolie revisited the songs “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen,” and “Oye Como Va,” and 10cc songwriter Graham Gouldman added “I’m Not in Love,” “Dreadlock Holiday,” and “The Things We Do for Love.”

Starr, when he wasn’t at the lead mic at center stage, played drums throughout, aided by a second percussionist. Culling a quartet of ditties from his solo albums, Ringo revisited “It Don't Come Easy,” “You're Sixteen,” “Photograph,” and “Anthem” – the latter signifying one of the evening’s few tracks, if not the only one, written in the current century.

Looking decades younger than his 78 years, the one-time Beatles drummer sported a colorful off-center screen T-shirt depicting a face reminiscent of Nina Hagen, a black blazer and jeans and pyramid-studded belt, a slew of bangles on his right wrist, a timepiece on his left and a gold “Peace” symbol around his neck.   

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As an artist, Amy Lee is restless, as all artists with anything worth saying must be: searching; growing and endlessly re-defining.

“Challenges,” she says. “Pushing myself to the next place. At this point in my career, the challenges are the fun parts.”

Seeking a different path led the lead singer and co-founder Evanescence, perhaps surprisingly, down a road previously traveled. Once there, she discovered secret passageways with untainted, offshoot roads that pointed to some new place. She named this synergy between past and present “Synthesis.” An album was released last November and the summer leg of the tour - which features co-headliner Lindsey Stirling – will play the big stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 28.

The show includes the added dimension of a full orchestra – an orchestra not touring with the band mind you, but rather, a different orchestra with an entirely new set of musicians on each night who will perform with the band.

“It makes for a very high-energy, tightrope-like feeling and in a very beautiful way different every time,” Lee says. “It creates these very raw, vulnerable and quiet moments where you have to just be so comfortable in your own skin that you totally focus and make beautiful music. That’s what makes it so exciting to me, to do something so different.”

The band first meets the orchestra on the day of the show during soundcheck where they’’ll run through parts of three or four songs then collectively perform live together for the first time in front of a live audience. Some live collaboration between Lee and Stirling during each of their respective sets is anticipated as well. Setlists from the early part of the tour indicate songs that span the band’s career from 2003 to 2018, as well as an occasional nod to the Beatles “(Across the Universe”) and Ozzy Osbourne (“Alive”).

As nerve-wracking and exciting as staging a performance in front of a live audience for the first-time may be, Lee says the addition of an orchestra creates “an electronic, awesome, cool different world.” Allowing her imagination to run free, Lee says she can envision some of her own favorite bands doing likewise.

 “I think it would be really good to see the Smashing Pumpkins do that. That would lend itself to it very well. And Portishead - Oh, that would be incredible! I’ve always gotten a lot of inspiration from Bjork and if I could go see the way she did “Vespertine” back in the day (2001) – it was sort of in this realm between the electronic elements and the orchestra.”  

Evanescence formed in the mid-1990s and released their debut album “Fallen” in 2003. Commercial success was immediate; the album topped the charts in more than 10 countries and sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. Lee, the group’s sole original member in the band’s current incarnation, was tagged as a goth-metal superstar in Victorian dress.

“After our first album, ‘Fallen,’ I felt a serious urge to push us forward and show other sides. It was good, but it was just this bud, this beginning picture of all that I wanted to express and all that I am. It became important to show something else. I always want to keep that open, to try new things,” she says. “To the degree that ‘Fallen’ was so huge, I felt almost frustrated that no matter what I did there’s a mass of people that are going to see me in just that one, simple, first way.”

Over the course of the band’s career, the business of music and concerts has drastically changed. Lee has changed with it.  

“We used to have lighters that we’d hold up in the audience, which was so beautifully romantic and sweet. Then people got cell phone with those lights which are so much brighter. I remember when that first started to be a thing, every artist was complaining, ‘Ah, they’re like zombies, they’re not even paying attention to the live show,” she recalls.

“We always want people to live in the moment, to live in the show, but I do take it as a sort of compliment: that they want to capture it, they want to remember it, they want to live it again. At the same time, we have this moment during special shows where we’ll have this… moment. One person with a cell phone and their light does it, then somebody next to them does it, then more and more and more and they all light up to make like these… glowing souls. Just this sea of light. It’s hard to explain, but you feel the magnitude as if in that moment every person is represented; everybody gets into it and it just chokes me up. Every time.”

Over the past 15 years, Lee expanded her collaborative circle to include recordings with Seether and Korn; she sang “Halfway Down the Stairs” – a song based on the lyrics of an A.A. Milne poem - for a cover album of Muppets songs in 2011, and one year later performed Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” for a Johnny Cash tribute album. In 2018, there are a multitude of creative reaches. “We’re just stripping all of my comfort zones away,” she says.

With “Synthesis,” Lee is re-imagining the band’s musical canon by collecting the shards of a melody once gifted from some ethereal place, disassembling its pieces, and then welding them with a new flame into a new composite.  

“There are parts of these songs (on ‘Synthesis’), particularly the ones I chose, where there was something about them that stood out to me, or that I wanted to push more. There was a stripping away involved and rebuilding for sure, but it’s all stemming from stuff that was all in there, underneath,” Lee explains.

“‘Never Go Back,’ for example - our first song on this album - is a very classically minded song, which is funny because production-wise it’s this heavy rock song with swatches of metal. But, it’s so related. If you think about the instrumentation and the production of music, I feel there are so many similarities between heavy, metal music and the shredders of the classical age. I mean, you could Bach up against Pantera and find total similarities,” she says with a laugh.

“I’m not saying we’re Pantera, or Bach – nothing like! But there was always this part, this big, epic beautiful bridge in ‘Never Go Back,’ that in this version now starts off the song that to me was channeling some big, classical epic drama. I wanted to experiment with taking that all the way in the other direction, seeing what it sounded like and being able to let it live in that world where it was partially born in the first place. The whole (‘Synthesis”) is kind of like that, taking things and going: here’s the other side of it that maybe you didn’t notice.”

The idea for “Synthesis” was born after Lee sat down and revisited the band’s musical history in advance of the release of a comprehensive Evanescence box set.

“I realized how proud I am of everything that we’ve done. Instead of thinking that I have to keep pushing in new directions to show everybody how different we can be, I kind of fell in love with all of it and wanted to spend a little bit of time embracing all that we are,” Lee says. “Instead of feeling that my favorite parts are the parts that I’m running from, I can go back and pour more love into who I already am. I have a new perspective on what Evanescence is and it means something to me that’s just full of love in all directions. So, I feel that’s been a beautiful turn in my heart more recently. And I don’t know what the future sound will be, but I do know it will be out of love.”

Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling will perform at SPAC on Saturday, July 28.

Published in Entertainment

THE RAIN FALLS in Los Angeles, on average, once every 10 days. And despite this being one of those days, Lindsey Stirling is undaunted.

The musician, composer, dancer, performer, author, and YouTube Superstar is in the City of Angels in preparation of a two-month-long trek across America which kicks off July 6 in Kansas City, Missouri and lands at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 28. Also appearing are co-headliners Evanescence. This will be no ordinary tour.  

“We’re trying to create something that’s brand new, and the only time people will be able to experience it, is during the show,” Stirling says.

She plans on delivering everything her fans are accustomed to seeing her provide - dancing and singing and the playing of music, often simultaneously – as well as injecting some moments of spontaneity that involve Evanescence. “You have two very unique artists who have very different shows but are very similar as well. That’s why I think it’s a perfect pairing. At points during the show there will also be some collaboration. There’s going to be a lot of creativity and It’s going to be really cool.”

Stirling’s self-titled debut album was released in 2012 and followed by “Shatter Me” two years later. “Brace Enough,” her third album, was issued in 2016 – a year which also saw the publication of her memoir “The Only Pirate at the Party.” An album of Christmas songs was released late last year. Exhibiting a variety of talents, Stirling recently lent her likeness to a new comic book series called “Sparrow,” has competed on the TV shows “America's Got Talent” and "Dancing with the Stars," and counts more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

This summer’s journey has her sharing equal billing with her musical heroes. “It’s really big for me: getting to go on tour with them and every night sharing the stage. It might sound like a cop-out, but Amy Lee and Evanescence were huge heroes of mine growing up. I had a poster of them on my wall. I remember sitting in my parents’ car the first time I heard ‘My Immortal.’ I remember being so touched by her voice, and how they combined an edgy sound with this beautiful soaring melody. As a young teenager I really think that was a huge inspiration to me and kind of the reason I wanted to make my own music,” Stirling says.

“When I started writing my own music, I took a page out of their book. I was doing dubstep and I thought: OK, how can I make this really edgy electronic music meld with my classical background? And so, a huge inspiration to me was Evanescence,” says the classically trained violinist, who grew up in Arizona.

“I had played classical my whole life – I played since I was six – and everything I played pretty much was on a white piece of paper with black notes. I was taught how to play it and how to articulate it. It was the same music that had been played for hundreds of years on an instrument that was hundreds of years old, and I was playing it the way it had been played for hundreds of years. I just got burned out,” Stirling explains. “I thrive on creativity and so I think I had just gotten bored. So that’s why I strayed from classical. I thought to myself: I’m not going to quit, I just need to re-find my passion, play the kind of music that excites me, the kind of music that I love. That’s why I started playing in rock bands and adding classical elements - not taking away from classical, but just adding my own vision to dubstep and pop and rock. It made it come alive for me. “

Making a leap from the classical world was not without judgmental repercussions.

“There are haters out there, for sure, and they’re very loud sometimes, but there are way more people that are appreciative, loving and kind to me and my art,” she says. “With the negative comments, I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. I like to tell stories, I like to make videos, I like to perform. I’m not going to be the best classical violinist in the world. I’m a violinist who gets to do what they love, share it with a lot of people and make them smile. I’m much happier doing that. “

Stirling’s memoir, which was published in 2016, has been largely hailed as an inspirational journey demonstrating her persistence, her humor, and as an inspirational tale, openly taking about her own struggles with anorexia - a life-threatening disorder due to the effects of weight loss and starvation on the body and brain.

“It wasn’t an easy struggle,” Stirling says. “I’ve been in recovery now for several years and it’s something that I know – the same way that anyone who has had an addiction knows – there’s always that tinge in the back of your mind. Most of the time I’m unaware of it. Occasionally it will come forward and remind me it’s there and would like to come forward again, and I’m like: ‘No. You’re not allowed to be a part of my life.’ I have the tools necessary now and I know how to use them to say: No. Just go away. I’m very happy where I’ve gotten to now, and I’m doing really well in that area.”

She says she shares her story with people to help provide a message that as difficult as things may appear in the moment of struggle, recovery is possible.

Not surprisingly, Stirling says getting involved in the field of motivational speaking and creating “a brand of positivity” is one of her future goals.

“I will write a Broadway musical at some point. And I’m also going to have a Vegas show,” Stirling says. “As for right now, I’m really trying to get into motivational speaking. I feel like that’s my next calling in life. I want to go out and share my message in a very upfront way and through that I want to raise dollars for charity. Those are my big 10-year plans.”    


Published in Entertainment
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