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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Tiler Peck is living her dream. Principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, Peck will be performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this month. She is excited to share her hard work, and her story, with the community.
Born in Bakersfield, California, Peck started dancing at the age of 2 with her mother, a dance teacher. She originally was more interested in jazz, but her mother stressed the importance of practicing and studying ballet in order to become a well-rounded dancer. After being in commercials and on TV as a child, her turning point was playing Gracie in Broadway’s “Music Man” when she was 11. After that, she entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, when she was 12.
“I loved the way SAB teaches dance. It just seemed jazzier to me. I felt by studying here, I could get it all,” Peck said.
At 15, Peck became an apprentice with the NYC Ballet and the next year she joined the company as a member of the cour de ballet, where she was jokingly referred to as a “baby ballerina” because of her age. By 20, she worked her way up to principal dancer.
“As a principal dancer, we have to carry the entire ballet, so you can feel that weight at times. Our job is to set the standards so everyone else can rise to the occasion,” said Peck. “When the whole ballet is dependent on you, it’s a lot of pressure. We work very hard.”
The average day for Peck starts with a 10:30 a.m. class with the company and then from noon to 6 p.m., she rehearses for that evening’s show, which usually starts around 8 p.m. With around five evening shows each week, there is not much room for down time, but Peck has learned to pace herself.
“It’s important to find balance between rehearsal and the performance itself,” said Peck. “I feel the older you get, the more you learn that giving 110 percent isn’t always possible. You have to find the perfect balance.”
Although the work is hard, Peck finds happiness in loving what she does every day.
“’Theme of Variations’ is probably one of the hardest dances to perform, but I love it. I’m not afraid of it like other dancers are,” said Peck. She also loves being able to dance with her husband, principal dancer Robbie Fairchild, in Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” Fittingly, the dance they perform together is called “The Man I Love.”
Now 26, Peck has performed at SPAC with the NYC ballet for nearly a decade and really enjoys coming to Saratoga for the event.
“The best part is that you can tell the audience really looks forward to it. But also, it’s a fun getaway for us to come up here. It’s kind of like a little vacation,” Peck explains. “The company gets to live together, so we barbecue and hang out. We love the little town, all the eating places and shopping along Broadway.”
At SPAC, Peck can be seen in Justin Peck’s “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes,” Alexei Ratmansky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres,” and Balanchine classics like “Tarantella,” “Symphony in C” and “Symphony in Three Movements.”
The New York City Ballet will be at SPAC from July 7 to 18. Tickets are available at SPAC.org.
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In modern English language, the world ‘awesome’ is one of the most abused around. As such, it becomes common currency. Everything is awesome, dude. I got a stain out of my t-shirt at Cudney’s – awesome. My dog didn’t bite anybody today – awesome! I got 14 likes on my Facebook post – awesome!
You get the idea. So I propose to reclaim the word for what it is supposed to mean. At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on Sunday night, August 24, I heard Zac Brown say this to the large crowd:
“We truly appreciate each and every one of you coming. We remember what it was like to play for beer money not so long ago, and we take nothing for granted, I assure you.”
Now, in the sometimes jaded world of big-time rock ‘n’ roll, THAT’s awesome, ladies and gents. And while we’re at it, the music was pretty darned special as well. That seemed to be the consensus in the electric amphitheater and from the jammed (and jamming) lawn crowd. The weather made it a great night to wander and be among the people, as it were.
Not only does the Zac Brown Band have some sparkling originals that span a wide spectrum of genres such as country, reggae, bluegrass and rock (a personal favorite in tonight’s set was “Whiskey’s Gone,” but you could make a case for several others), but spices things up with a similar variety of popular cover tunes, each stylized in their own way and running the gamut from James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” to Metallica’s “Never, Never Land” to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and back over to Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t you see?”
The latter tune found me next to a father/daughter combo with Dad explaining to his pre-teen daughter that this was one of Peter Frampton’s biggest hits. I was having such a nice time, as were they, I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was someone else.
So all in all, this was the fourth time I have seen ZBB and he’s yet to disappoint. They are my ‘go-to’ guys for a guaranteed good time. Brown is the new Black – and that’s awesome!
New BBQ, Blues & Brews Event To Kick Off SPAC’s Wine & Food Fest
NEW YORK CITY – Marc Murphy, a celebrated Manhattan restaurant owner, executive chef and a frequent judge on the Food Network’s highly rated program "Chopped," will be the host of the inaugural "BBQ, Brews & Blues" competition to kick off the annual Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s (SPAC) Saratoga Wine & Food Fest on Friday, September 5.
In addition to his work on "Chopped," Chef Murphy has also made appearances on "Iron Chef America," "Hot Chefs," "The Martha Stewart Show," "Make My Day," "Unique Eats," "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," "The Best Thing I Ever Made," "The Rachael Ray Show" and "The TODAY Show." He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp.
Reached by phone in Manhattan, Chef Murphy was forthcoming on a variety of topics. Interestingly, though he has lived (and cooked) in several of the world’s culinary capitals (including Paris, Milan and Monte Carlo) his trip next month will be his first ever to Saratoga Springs.
"I’m excited about this trip," he said. "I’ve heard so much about this place, the history and of SPAC itself."
While the fine points about how the BBQ, Brews & Blues competition will be structured are still being determined – even Chef Murphy was unaware of this "I’m ready for anything, though!" He said - he was familiar with some of the chefs that are part of the New York City team (see below) that will square off against some of their leading Capital Region counterparts.
However, "In something like this, I always have to give the edge going in to the home-based team." Chef Murphy said. "They can bring their best help, they know the local purveyors. In a competition, these are big advantages."
The wine and food festival reached out to Chef Murphy, who now is the owner of five leading New York City restaurants in addition to an event and catering company under the umbrella name Benchmarc, earlier this year.
Being a Food Network devotee, I had to ask him all about Chopped.
He enjoys the variety of judges that rotate through the panel. "It’s always a good day at that job." He said, noting that several are personal friends, citing fellow judge (and Iron Chef) Geoffrey Zakarian as someone who he recently took a trip with recently.
According to Chef Murphy, a typical single episode of "Chopped," which gets edited down to a 30-minute show, takes about 10 hours to shoot. "They spend a lot of time in between courses," he said, laughing. "It can get pretty messy out there with all the food flying around!" Iron Chef, on the other hand, is much quicker even though it is an hour show, as that particular competition involves cooking a complete meal in one continuous segment.
Of course, when you get one of the world’s great chefs on the line I have to have him pick a meal for us. So I set the scene: I’m at one of your restaurants, Let’s say Landmarc, chef’s table. Important client to impress. Money of course not a concern. I leave it to you, Chef Marc: what will I be served.
He didn’t hesitate. "Well, for appetizers, I’d set you up with a tasting array," he said. "Of course, sometimes the best of these would depend on seasonality and availability, but two popular apps that would be on that plate are our smoked mozzarella & ricotta fritters with a spicy tomato sauce and grilled scallion and tomato confit flatbread.
"For the salad course, we serve our chopped salad family style. It has celery, cucumber, hearts of palm, tomatoes and beets with balsamic vinaigrette.
"A popular fish course is our grilled salmon, served with ratatouille and parsley pistou (a sauce from Provençe made of basil, garlic, olive oil and sometimes Parmesan cheese and tomato paste).
"Ok, for the entrée I would select our 22 oz. grass fed bone-in painted hill farms ribeye steak, grilled. Since you are impressing a client, I’d probably slice it myself for you tableside. Dessert I’ll leave up to you; we always have a wide variety to choose from."
That’s why the chef is a judge, ladies and gents.
For more information about Chef Marc Murphy’s restaurants, visit
benchmarc-events.com. To learn more about SPAC’s Wine & Food Fest, visit spac.org
The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn!
The Lineups for the BBQ, Blues & Brews event at the Saratoga Wine & Food Fest at SPAC
Friday, September 5
Capital Region Restaurants and Chefs
Druthers Brewing Company- Chef Sean Comiskey
Angelo’s 677 Prime- Chef Jaime Ortiz
Henry Street Taproom- Chef Maria Mendez
The Brook Tavern- Chef Kyle Lewis
New York City Restaurants and Chefs
TESSA- Chef Cedric Tovar
Nice Matin & Marseille- Chef Andy D’Amico
Tolani- Chef Cesare De Chellis
Dukes Original Rodehouse NYC-
Chef Seth Lowenstein & Chef Nick Cataldo
SARATOGA SPRINGS— Andy Warhol once said: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15
minutes." In the case of Rich Ortiz, he received a little over 20 – each of which was deserved.
One of the most talented, hard-working and likable musicians to ever perform in this market received a
singular honor on Tuesday, August 19 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), when Rich Ortiz
played a well-received opening set for national acts REO Speedwagon and Chicago.
This one-man band (in addition to guitar, harmonica and vocals, Rich brings his own rhythm section to
the party, accompanying himself with bass pedals that he plays with his feet) is always much in demand.
Consider his upcoming week. We reached him by phone in Boston following Tuesday’s set, where he
opened for the same groups at the Blue Hill Pavilion the next day. Following that, a typical week for Rich,
with six gigs in the next eight days:
Sunday, 8/24- The Horseshoe Inn – 6 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/26- Late Night Happy Hour at Caroline St. Pub – 10 p.m.
Thursday, 8/28- Prime at Saratoga National – 6:30 p.m.
Friday, 8/29 – A double shift in Trio mode with band mates Chris Kyle and Chris Carey:
- Afternoon: Saratoga Racecourse Gazebo
- Evening: Druthers, 9 p.m.
Saturday 8/30 and Sunday 8/31— Final Stretch Festival (Adirondack Trust Drive-Through) – 7 p.m.
So, suffice to say that if you are one of the, perhaps, three people left in this market who has yet to see
this remarkable songwriter perform, you certainly will have several opportunities in the near future.
Back at SPAC, it was obvious that there were several in the audience who arrived early just to root Richie
on, as people were already clapping and cheering during the first notes of some of his popular originals
such as "Summer Song" and "Face of a Lion." But there were several people next to me in Section 5 who
had a "where has this guy been hiding?" look on their faces, so Rich apparently picked up a few new fans
"I was oddly surprised how comfortable it was," Rich said. "I really felt right at home. It was relaxed and
natural. A little bit different with such a distance between me and the audience. Usually, people are
dancing two feet in front of me."
Rich had opened for REO Speedwagon before, at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but this time it wa
s Chicago’s management that reached out to him for the SPAC gig. "I came away with an appreciation for
all the logistics that go into a tour. It’s impressive. Normally I’m carrying my own gear everywhere. But
they made me feel very welcome."
It says here that this idea of a local act getting a boost in his or her hometown is the sort of thing that
should happen more often, and big kudos to Chicago’s management, as well as SPAC and presumably
LiveNation for making this event – and it was an event – happen. Rich would probably be the first to say
that there are several other deserving candidates in our talent-laden market for this kind of lift.
But I say: there is no one more deserving than Rich Ortiz for this honor. Truly, an idea whose time has
Richie is a very easy person to root for. It has been my pleasure over the years to write about him, but
also, in a former life, to contract his services for various festivals and clubs. On one occasion, we traveled
to his gig in NYC and I had the pleasure to act as "Richie’s roadie," (with me on crutches in the snow –
another story for another time). Sometimes, we even just get to hang out and talk about fishing. In his
world, it may not always be a sunny day, but it always appears to be.
It’s nice when you can write a nice story about a nice thing happening to a nice person. When that
happens, life is good.
And life is very good today.
For more information, visit RichOrtiz.com
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This week, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) welcomed the debut performances of a new resident company: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) has a new summer home at the Spa Little Theater. Another jewel in the summer resident company “crown” which already includes iconic entities such as the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra
The schedule of performances (see box – page 11) will continue over the next two weeks, through August 26. All the performances are hand-selected and unique, designed to give both the newly initiated as well as the connoisseur of chamber music a thorough introduction to CMS’s repertoire.
But, by no means, an exhaustive one.
“There are hundreds of pieces available by Mozart alone,” said Co-artistic director David Finckel on the afternoon following CMS’s debut on Monday, August 11. “Most companies will play the top ten or so. But we like to go deeper. I find that the brain works differently; it’s more stimulating when you are hearing new notes.”
Indeed, I’ll go further and say that their debut performance was completely transformative. Every thing I thought I knew about Chamber music went out the window, along with my reporter’s objectivity.
My mind soared while my eyes were mesmerized. It was stimulating, exciting and endearing.
I became a fan for life. And it took just one performance – a performance that immediately became one of my most memorable live performances – of any genre – at any time.
“This first performance was designed to exhibit virtuosity,” said Wu Han, Co-Artistic Director, who plays the piano to Finckel’s cello. “At the same time, it is meant to be trust-building. There are misconceptions about chamber music; that it is only for a limited few. But it is extremely accessible.”
And dramatic. And engaging. And dazzling. And every other emotional verb you can muster in your vocabulary. I have very little technical expertise to offer. With music, I’m all about the qualitative experience.
My experience at Monday’s debut performance convinced me to advocate to everyone that you are cheating yourself if you don’t make it a point to see CMS while they are here.
The company’s roster (a total of 160-180 performers; of which about 24 will perform at SPAC this month – A new roster each week joining Wu Han and David) comprises the best of the best, at the top of their game.
One example among many that illustrates an incredible, incendiary aspect of Chamber music when it is performed at this high level is the interaction of all the performers. Wu Han and David have been married for 28 years. It is said that couples married that long anticipate and finish each other’s thoughts. Now apply that principle to every performer in CMS; in every combination; in every composition they play.
A case in point was the playing of Samuel Berber’s Souvenirs for Piano, Four Hands. The picture of the sheet music helps to tell the tale: Wu Han played the left page (she called it the ‘bottom position’) and operated the pedals, while Anne-Marie McDermott played the right side (or upper) simultaneously. This led to a frenzy of interaction and trust, not to mention furiously page turning.
Since both performers’ hands were otherwise occupied, Wu Han’s daughter Lillian turned the pages “She’s much in demand for this!” Wu Han said, smiling. “And a great piano performer in her own right.”
“We had such a warm welcome here,” Wu Han said, noting that it was her first time in Saratoga Springs. “The audience was accepting, and made us feel very comfortable, as did all of the SPAC staff. It made us want to play our best for everyone.”
Upcoming performances should be similarly stimulating, and SPAC has enhanced the experience by adding pre-performance talks one hour before each show, as well as post-performance gatherings at Putnam’s restaurant at the Gideon Putnam Hotel, and on closing night a reception outside the Spa Little Theater.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I give my initial CMS at SPAC experience two thumbs up. My only regret is that I don’t have four hands.
For more information, visit spac.org
For Saratoga TODAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS - It is a universal law that all things have an opposite This is true for the macrocosm in which stars give life and black holes crush existence. Such truths apply to the microcosm as well as in the Saratoga Performing Art Center.
Recently I had the opportunity to cover Phish at SPAC. In more recent times, Mayhem. It is fair to say that Phish is the polar opposite of Mayhem as acid is to base. Acid being Phish (of course) and Mayhem-base. More accurately perhaps bass. Truth be told, I prefer rowdier versions of the rock genre and the jackhammer like bass drives me to excitement.
I arrived to the famed concert venue on Wednesday, July 23 ready for bear. The awful weather forecast of impending doom cast a bad cloud over the event but I wasn't deterred. Nineties hard rock legends Cannibal Corpse and Body Count were slated to perform at the lawn stages and I wasn't going to miss a moment of the mayhem. The stormy forecast went unheeded and storms passed SPAC with only a minor scrape.
The main stage was set with Korn and Avenged Sevenfold as headliners. Most of the concertgoers remained through the ill fated weather to be treated to awesome performances by the top bills. My camera caught most of the excitement.
Fourth Winter Ball Set For February 22
SARATOGA SPRINGS— Fresh eyes bring new perspectives and fresh ideas.
Believe it or not, The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will shortly be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2016. It will reach this milestone because it became, and continues to be, relevant: faithful to its core past, but always looking forward and reaching out for new ways to reach new audiences.
This is true for SPAC’s programming, but just as true for what is at its core: people. A central institution in our region, it was some forward thinking in 2010 that led the leadership at SPAC to develop an auxiliary arm, which has brought new excitement and ideas that make a major contribution to both the “buzz” and the bottom line.
SPAC’s Junior Committee, according to Marcia J. White, President and Executive Director “…was modeled after the Carnegie Hall Notables and New York Public Library Young Lions as an initiative to encourage a younger demographic and ensure the vitality of SPAC and the performing arts. Since its inception in 2010, it has become a highly credible business-networking group, planning terrific parties and events, and serving as ambassadors for SPAC.”
Meredith Von Schenk and Ryan Bouchey are members of SPAC’s Junior Committee, as well as co-chairs of SPAC’s fourth annual Winter Ball, which will descend upon the Hall of Springs on Saturday, February 22.
Both are well on their way to making their mark in the local business community (Ms. Von Schenk is Marketing Manager for Roohan Realty and Mr. Bouchey is Vice President and CFO at Bouchey Financial Group) and developing their own families, but still recognize the importance of giving time to a organization that enriches the life of their community.
Meredith came to the Junior Committee at the recommendation of her friend (and fellow committee member) Laura Palkovich when she and her husband returned to Saratoga Springs in 2010. She worked on last years Winter Ball committee (a Dallas TV show theme) and became co-chair this year. “It’s a wonderful way to meet new people and support Saratoga Springs. We are so lucky to have a venue like SPAC in our backyard.”
Ryan’s experience was similar. When he returned to the area a few years ago, a recommendation from committee member Murray Massry got him on board. “Being on this committee has been a great experience,” he noted. “Our liaisons at SPAC (Kristy Godette and Mary Jane Sweetland) are very encouraging to us.”
Marcia White confirms how important the Annual Winter Ball has been to SPAC: “The Winter Ball developed from the realization that a large demographic of young professionals in the region would support a winter social and fundraising event if it had fun themes, great food and drink, an affordable ticket price and benefited a worthwhile organization”
“That was four years ago. Since then, the event has become one of the regions’ most popular winter fundraisers, selling out each year. It is definitely a ‘can’t miss’ event and an important part of the committee’s fundraising efforts.”
Previous themes, such as ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Dallas’ have been timely, topical and lively—not to mention great opportunities to dress up and ‘vogue’ for the cameras.
For the fourth year, they have outdone themselves. The confluence of the winter’s Sochi Olympics and the 2014 debut of the Bolshoi Ballet at SPAC made a Russian theme a perfect fit.
The Fourth Annual Winter Ball will have over 400 people attending this year, but Meredith and Ryan assured me that they have saved a place for you – but only if you hurry!
SARATOGA SPRINGS—On October 28, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announced a historic partnership that will lead to the world-class chamber music company to a residency at SPAC beginning next August 2014.
A three-week six-concert residency will be programmed by CMS. Performance dates will be August 11, 12, 17, 19, 24 and 26. Artist and repertoire details will be announced in the near future.
On the Spa Little Theatre stage where the announcement was made were CMS artistic directors David Finckel and Wu Han, Marcia White, SPAC president and CEO, Susan Read, SPAC board chairperson and Suzanne Davidson, CMS executive director.
Following the announcement, in their roles as Musical America’s 2012 musicians of the year, cellist David Finkel and pianist Wu Han enchanted the audience with a musical interlude. The duo’s international engagements have taken them to the Far East and Europe to unanimous critical acclaim.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – While echoes of Farm Aid fade into memory and SPAC falls silent in autumnal grace, the message from the festival remains loud and clear “save our family farms.” Farm Aid has been steadfast in its mission to help small farms and agricultural communities nationwide through concert fundraisers and public awareness programs.
On September 21st the Saratoga Performing Arts Center had the honor of hosting the 28th annual Farm Aid concert. That honor came to Saratoga partly due to our commitment to the cause. We do support local agriculture. This is evident as our farm markets remain strong and families make the annual fall pilgrimage through corn mazes and into orchards to fill their baskets. Dave Mathews said it best in a press conference at the Spa Little Theater on the morning of the festival “apples in New York are awesome.” Although Dave’s sentiment was sweet, the tone of the address by members of the Farm Aid board, made up of, among others, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, was bittersweet.
There are mixed emotions explained Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson.
“We are glad we’re here but sad we’re here,” said Nelson in regard to the plight of small farms in America.
Issues of ongoing struggles were discussed such as corporatized mega farms “agribusiness” swallowing family farms. Modern concerns like genetically modified foods and climate change were also mentioned but the most heated topic of the day was hydraulic fracturing “fracking”.
Hydraulic fracturing is the practice of drilling and blasting through shale to release natural gas. Fracking presumably threatens farmland. The subject of fracking hit center stage with a surprise performance by the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger who delivered a new version of “This Land is Your Land” which warns against fracking.
For those in favor of hydraulic fracturing Dave Mathews had this advice “they can go frack themselves.”
If you think the issues at hand merely effect a small group of farmers in some town you never heard of, then get this; the predicament of our nations farmers concerns everyone who eats.
“We are not saving the farmers, the farmers are saving us,” Nelson said.
Wise words Willie Nelson.
So, how do we save ourselves? Grow the Good Food Movement—when you eat good food grown by family farmers, you know you are getting honest, real food grown by people who care about their land, their community and their future
“The fight to save family farms isn’t just about farmers. It’s about making sure that there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It’s about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street. It’s about a better America.”
– Willie Nelson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It all started in 1985 when record numbers of farmers found themselves in foreclosure, losing their land and their livelihoods after being encouraged by the U.S. govern- ment to grow large crops for over- sea markets. When the markets did not pan out and crop prices plummeted, thousands of farmers started losing everything they had worked their entire lives for, many losing land that had been in the family for decades. That is when Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young banded together to form the first ever Farm Aid bene- fit concert. Pulled together in only six weeks, the first concert was held in Champagne, Illinois and 78,000 people attended.
Saratoga Springs Politics
Saratoga County Court Justin P. Rodriguez was sentenced Sept. 14 in Saratoga County Court to an aggregate maximum term of 22-1/2 years in state prison in connection with actions that caused the death of Alex Bleickhardt, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said in a statement. The incident involved a fatal crash along I-87 (the Northway) in Wilton on Sept. 15, 2022 when the 42-year-old Rodriguez approached a disabled box truck and a heavy-duty tow truck on the shoulder of the road, and making no effort to move over, slow down, or avoid a collision, rear-ended the box truck at 76…
BALLSTON Brookview Court Inc sold property at 38 Arcadia Court to Mary Dimitri for $354,472 Brookview Court Inc sold property at 39 Arcadia Court to Sean Linnane for $351,977 Richard Fonda sold property at 879 Saratoga Rd to Jon Andersen for $450,000 Meghan Fiene sold property at 2 Palmer Ave to Dana Kuster for $399,146 Ariana Quattrocchi sold property at 6 Morningdale Ct to Roman DiPasquale for $465,000 GALWAY Bruce Boghosian sold property at 6019 Jockey St to David Miller for $1,079,000 Taylor Young sold property at 5642 Lake Rd to Bryan Ozak for $310,000 Jeffrey Gordon sold property at…
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