Displaying items by tag: SPAC
Rod Stewart’s back. The pop singer returns to SPAC July 29. He last performed at the venue in July 2017, with Cyndi Lauper.
This time around, he will be accompanied by Cheap Trick at a majority of summer concerts – although that won’t be the case at Saratoga.
An opening band is anticipated to be named in the near future.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — To date, promoter Live Nation has announced the following shows to stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center this year. Additional shows and/or support artists for these previously announced shows are expected. For a comprehensive list of performances at SPAC not presented by Live Nation – which includes NYCB, and Saratoga Jazz Festival, among others, go to: spac.org.
June 6: The Lumineers - III: The World Tour
June 7: Celtic Woman
June 13: Zac Brown Band: Roar with the Lions Tour
June 24: KIDZ BOP Live 2020 Tour
June 30: Steely Dan with Special Guest Steve Winwood
July 2: Tedeschi Trucks Band - Wheels Of Soul 2020
July 8: Alanis Morissette w/special guest Garbage and also appearing Liz Phair
July 10, 11: Dave Matthews Band
July 12: Countryfest 2020 with Brantley Gilbert & More
July 21: Chicago with Rick Springfield
July 22: Nickelback: All The Right Reasons Tour
July 24: Matchbox Twenty 2020
July 25: The Black Crowes Present: Shake Your Money Maker
July 26: The Doobie Brothers: 50th Anniversary Tour
July 29: Rod Stewart
Aug. 1: Journey with Pretenders
Aug. 3: Dead & Company
Aug. 4: Disturbed: The Sickness 20th Anniversary Tour with Staind & Bad Wolves
Aug. 9: Foreigner: Juke Box Hero Tour 2020
Aug. 11: Incubus with 311.
Aug. 18: Sammy Hagar & The Circle and Whitesnake with special guest Night Ranger.
Aug. 23: Goo Goo Dolls: The Miracle Pill Summer Tour.
Aug. 31: Daryl Hall & John Oates.
Sept. 6: Maroon 5.
Sept. 6: Meghan Trainor.
Sept. 11: Backstreet Boys: DNA World Tour.
Sept. 12: The Australian Pink Floyd Show: All That You Feel World Tour 2020.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Elizabeth Sobol strolled the grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the springtime thaw of 2017, a few months after taking the reigns as SPAC’s president and CEO. Green tarps were slung around the concession area and the infrastructure displayed signs of more than a half-century of use.
“Crumbling limestone, rusting metal, broken windows,” she says. “I remember thinking: this is one of the greatest venues in North America. How is it that it’s not being maintained the way it should?” This past summer, a full half of the restrooms located in the brick structure that frames the concession area high atop the lawn were out of order. “The plumbing is so old they could no longer be fixed, because the underlying plumbing is the issue. It was not fitting a venue of SPAC’s stature.”
This week, SPAC announced a $9.5 million renovation project that will see a complete replacement and upgrade of the existing concessions and restroom facilities. Two new concessions buildings will replace the existing tent structures, which have lacked proper security, infrastructure and storage space. In the center of the main plaza a new open-air covered pavilion will establish a more park-like aesthetic and restore the original sight lines from the Route 50 bridge to the Victoria Pool. The existing brick semi-circle structure will come down and the new center, set a little further back, to restore those sightlines of the pre-SPAC days.
“It will be a completely re-imagined area. It’s gone beyond being just a concession area. All the old buildings are coming down and being replaced with all new buildings,” Sobol says. “There will be one larger building with brand new bathrooms – and many more bathrooms than are there now. There will be a new concession area, and up on the second floor a 4,000 square foot indoor-outdoor gathering space that will be multi-use: for education, community gathering, VIP experience. And it will be year-round - which is game-changing for us.”
SPAC has expanded its year-round programs as well as its education programming in recent years – from serving 5,000 kids to nearly 10 times that number. The year-round use availability will enable continued grow in both, the educational programming and community outreach in which SPAC has been involved. Additionally, the covered pavilion in the center of the new project area will be used to showcase pre-concert talks – which are currently held in an 80-capacity room on campus, enabling hundreds to attend the events.
The project - anticipated to be completed by May 1, 2020 - is supported by $8 million in private funding from Live Nation and Saratoga Performing Arts Center. New York State is providing up to $1.5 million in grants from Empire State Development and State Parks, awarded through the governor's Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
The Live Nation component marks the first significant contribution by the venue’s summertime pop music concert promoter. Through the late 1990’s, SPAC had mostly done its own bookings of summer pop concerts. In 2000, SPAC signed a booking deal for those summer pop shows with concert promoter SFX Entertainment, which was sold to Clear Channel Communications and eventually spun into Live Nation.
“This is a big deal that they’ve come to the table to help us,” Sobol says. “Live Nation brought expertise – they have architects on staff, a ton of knowledge about getting buildings done in the right way for the right party and using every dollar wisely.” Specific operations of the facility will remain status quo. A long-running existing contract between SPAC and Live Nation regarding the booking of summer pop concerts is nearing the end of its run and is anticipated to be renewed.
“It’s a 53-year-old facility with hundreds of thousands visiting every year. You have to be renovating and upgrading. For me the concessions area was really something that had to get done because when you have bathrooms functioning at 50% and you have shows that can range from 5,000 to 25,000 you’ve got a real problem,” Sobol says.
“I’m a big believer in maintaining the sanctity of the park, the park-like feel of things, restoring the sightlines. I want people to really feel the magic of being in the park. This jewel that we have. I talk about SPAC as being the perfect confluence of man-made beauty and natural beauty. In my mind there’s no other cultural organization anywhere I can think of that melds those two things.”
Now in her third year as president and CEO, Sobol explains she realized early on the role SPAC plays both in the local community and beyond. “The thing that totally bowled me over is how everyone seems to have a SPAC story; Whether it’s the rock and roll shows they first went to and ended up coming back over and over again, or that they met their spouse at a show, or that their toddler took their first steps on the lawn. It is unbelievably woven into Saratoga’s psyche. The memories are woven into the roots of the trees that are part of this park.”
The $9.5 million funding for the project as well as the coordination includes a variety of collaborators including well-known locals Sonny Bonacio – who heads Bonacio Construction, and Mike Ingersoll, of the LA Group. Earlier this year, State Parks completed a $1.75 million project to renew the SPAC amphitheater's aging balcony ramps and lighting with an elegant and safe entryway. The amphitheater facade was upgraded in 2012.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A battle between toy soldiers and mischievous mice, a blizzard of ballerinas, and a wonderful world of confection will come alive at SPAC’s popular “Nutcracker Tea,” slated for Sunday, Nov.
A Capital Region holiday tradition for families, both performances - at 11 a.m. and at 3 p.m. - feature excerpts from The Nutcracker by Northeast Ballet Company, a traditional English Christmas Tea, American Girl doll giveaways, boutique shopping, and a visit from Santa Claus.
Held at the Hall of Springs, tickets are $75 for adults and $35 for children 15 and under. Proceeds benefit arts education programs at SPAC.
The Nutcracker, composed in 1891 by Tchaikovsky, is a fairy tale ballet that tells the story of a little girl’s journey through a fantasy world of fairies, princes, toy soldiers and an army of mice. First performed in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, it has become an American classic since choreographer George Balanchine introduced his production in 1954 in New York City.
Features of the event include: ballet excerpts from The Nutcracker performed by Northeast Ballet Company; a raffle for an American Girl Doll; tea, mini sandwiches, cookies and light edibles; a visit from Santa Claus, and more.
Tickets for the Nutcracker Tea will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Oct. 23. and are available at spac.org or by calling 518-584-9330 ext.101.
All photos by SuperSource Media.
A Farewell Kiss to Saratoga in a Blaze of Pyrotechnics
and a Birthday Party for ‘The Demon’
SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the clock inched closer to midnight on Aug. 24, Gene Simmons was serenaded by several thousand of his closest Saratoga friends with a group sing of “Happy Birthday,” celebrating the conclusion of the bassists’ 70th year on earth.
Simmons and bandmate Paul Stanley – two of the four founding members of Kiss – performed Saturday night at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in what is anticipated as the group’s final regional appearance. The group had performed at the same venue while on their “Farewell Tour” in 2000.This time around, it’s the “End of The Road Tour,” which is ultimately expected to conclude at the end of the calendar year.
Saturday night, the band emerged atop the stage alongside a fury of bombastic explosions, heat-bearing flames and a slew of pointed laser beams, opening with “Detroit Rock City.”
Overall, the 20-song set took mightily from the group’s early years, with a dozen titles dating to the 1970s, including a trio - “Deuce,” “Cold Gin,” and “Black Diamond” released on Kiss’ 1974 debut album. More than 46 years have passed since the band first performed on stage, which took place at a club on Queens Boulevard on a January night in 1973.
Gene (The Demon) Simmons was in full tongular assault throughout - a menacing God of Thunder bound in some feathery sort of breast plate and spewing blood in the stage haze of puke-green illumination.
For his part, Paul (The Starchild) Stanley, when not slinging ‘round his six-string signature guitar with the sparkles, provided voluminous quantities of between-song banter. “Let Me Hear Ya Say Yeah!” and “How Ya Doin’ Saratoga!” his two most popular go-to incantations. Drummer Eric (The Cat Man) Singer, and guitarist Tommy (The Spaceman II) Thayer completed the Kiss 2019 quartet.
Kiss is an arena show that’s played for decades and, depending on your point-of-view, is kin to a long-running staged musical, or a band on auto pilot, albeit blending with a mix of catchy choruses.
Among the high points was Kiss’ recreation of their song “Deuce” - the band performing in sync with a video performance of their similar staging of the tune decades ago, the “Rock and Roll All Nite” anthemic conclusion, and Stanley’s across-the-amphitheater zip-line which delivered him atop a small platform stage for performances of “Love Gun,” and “I Was Made For Loving You.”
Santana’s Ode to Woodstock Generation at SPAC
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Fifty years after the weekend he famously played Woodstock – that’s 18,270 days, give or take – Carlos Santana staged a concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center that kept the crowd packed into the amphitheater on their feet for most of the near two-hour show.
It was an ode in tribute to that three-day celebration of Hippiedom in 1969 during which Santana emerged on the SPAC stage. The stage-side video screens flashed through a ten-minute introductory interlude - accompanied by the horn-musings of a cool jazz soundtrack - that displayed groovy lights and peace symbols, barefooted children, fringe vests, and hordes of denim-wearing, mud-sliding, granola-eating Woodstock festival goers.
Fittingly, as Carlos Santana brought his 10-member entourage onstage to a live performance of “Soul Sacrifice” as the video screens simultaneously depicted him performing the same tune at the Woodstock festival all those years ago.
Carlos excelled in his six-string virtuosity most notably with songs such as “(Da Le) Yaleo,” wringing notes and soliciting screaming wails from the neck of his guitar, in his sonically signature style.
The setlist was a mix of vintage and modern-day Santana. The latter brought classics such as “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen,” and a rendition of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” - whose decaying sustain was uprooted by One Big Power Chord that changed up the momentum, and moved it all into the modern day.
A handful of tunes revisited from his monster 1999 album ‘Supernatural,’ included “Smooth,” the sultry undulations of “Maria Maria,” and an emotionally stirring performance of “Put Your Lights On,” during which thousands engaged their smart phone electro-lights, illuminating the amphitheater in a surreal glow. There were also musical snippets, or entire renditions of tunes in tribute to other artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, The Chambers Brothers and Olatunji.
At his best, Carlos led the ensemble in a series of cadences that alternately beat with rhythmic intensity or pulsed in a seductive flow, ultimately culminating in the manic boogie jump-jump of his song “Foo Foo,” before bringing it back full circle with The Youngbloods’ inspired encore “Get Together.” The Doobie Brothers performed earlier in the evening.
Photos of Slipknot on stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at Knotfest Roadshow 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.