SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Performing Arts Center announced this week The Philadelphia Orchestra will return to its summer home in Saratoga Springs for its residency on Aug. 11-14, marking the company’s first live performances at SPAC since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin for all four programs, the residency will feature a finale performance with violinist Joshua Bell. Also highlighting the engagement and as part of SPAC’s commitment to presenting works that represent a more diverse group of voices are seven SPAC premieres, including works by Philadelphia Orchestra Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank, Valerie Coleman, Florence Price, and Louise Farrenc.
The performances will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from the governor to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff. In order to provide guests with the safest possible experience, all attendees will be seated in safe, socially-distanced pods.
“After more than a year of a shuttered, silent amphitheater stage, it feels miraculous to announce the return of Yannick and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Though, sadly, it was necessary to shorten the residency this year in the face of the enormous financial and other challenges posed by the era of COVID-19, we are excited about the richness of diversity of the programming,” said Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in a statement.
“From the opening notes of a Mozart Piano Concert, with Yannick himself at the piano, to a closing concert featuring Joshua Bell in Beethoven’s sublime Violin Concerto – and powerful SPAC premieres by women and BIPOC composers – throughout the week, we will savor every sweet and precious note of the Orchestra’s 2021 residency.”
Wednesday, Aug. 11 @ 8 p.m.:
Opening Night of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s residency includes a “first” for SPAC audiences as Yannick leads the Orchestra from the piano. Written following his arrival in Vienna, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 is "very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being insipid," in the composer's own words. Listen for its melodic opulence and thrilling cadenzas. Also highlighting the evening is the SPAC premiere of the Symphony No. 1 by Florence Price. In 1933, Price’s First Symphony was the first symphonic work by a Black woman to be played by a major American orchestra. Steeped in American folk music, spirituals, and church hymns, her celebrated work reflects her experience as a Black woman raised in the post-Civil War South.
Thursday, Aug. 12 @ 8 p.m.: This special program, dedicated to health care workers, opens with the SPAC premiere of Seven O’Clock Shout, composed as a tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic by American composer Valerie Coleman. Performance Today's 2020 Classical Woman of the Year and one of the Washington Post’s "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music," Valerie Coleman is among the world's most performed composers living today. The evening continues with Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with Concertmaster David Kim and First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang and Brahms’s lyrically lush, Symphony No. 1.
Friday, Aug. 13 @ 8 p.m.: The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence, Gabriela Lena Frank, who is widely celebrated for exploring her multicultural heritage through her work, mixed elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions in Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout. The work will receive its SPAC premiere in this concert alongside Mozart’s beloved Clarinet Concerto, performed by Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales. Another SPAC premiere and a piece that is “unjustly-underperformed” according to Maestro Nézet-Séguin, is Louise Farrenc’s stunning Symphony No. 2 from 1845, which closes the evening.
Saturday, Aug. 14 @ 8 p.m.: Joshua Bell returns to SPAC to perform the illustrious Beethoven Violin Concerto. A new arrangement for solo violin and string orchestra of Florence Price’s lovely Adoration receives its world premiere, while Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 – a work written when the composer was just 17 and never before performed at SPAC– closes The Philadelphia Orchestra’s residency in Saratoga. The concerts will all be approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. All programs are subject to change.
Ticket information: SPAC Members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on June 1 for amphitheater seats. Amphitheater tickets for the public will be available to purchase on June 7. Lawn tickets will be available to purchase at a later date, to be announced. Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater. Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people. Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater. Advance ticket purchases are strongly advised as ticket availability will be limited. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.
COVID-19 Safety & Protocols: In order to provide all guests with the safest possible experience, guests will be seated in socially-distanced pods. Guests are permitted to bring factory sealed water bottles and essential personal items only. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.
Visit spac.org for more details.