Fairs & Festivals 2010
From traditional county fairs and innovative theater performances to music of all types, these 20 local events help put the fun in summer
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Shock and awe: A stunning display of fireworks completes Caramoor’s July 4 musical celebration
Photograph by Gabe Palacio
Times are tough, no doubt about it. So it’s a good thing that here in the Hudson Valley our verdant green and sunny summers are chock full of interesting things to do, even on a tight budget. This year’s fairs and festivals pack a super punch — not only of star power, but eco-consciousness and community spirit. Take the family to the county fair, see Shakespeare on the starlit banks of the Hudson, catch Sting in concert, check out a huge collection of antique motorcycles, join in a West African drum circle — from Altamont to Katonah, you can spend every weekend until Labor Day having fun close to home.
It is only fitting that a region so steeped in history would offer fans of classical music such a rich and diverse array of performances to choose from. Whether you prefer opera, chamber, or jazz, the Valley has an experience waiting for you in time-honored places, from the nation’s prized military academy to the decadent grounds of a treasured estate.
The Caramoor International Music Festival (June 26-Aug. 11) has a dramatic and exciting season lined up, in celebration of their 65th year of presenting the best classical, opera, chamber, and world music on the historic grounds of Caramoor. Famed pianist Mitsuko Uchida opens the season June 26 with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27. “Bel Canto at Caramoor,” the critically acclaimed opera series, presents two semistaged performances: Bellini’s Norma, featuring the return of soprano Angela Meade, will be performed July 10 and 16; followed by Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan on July 24. Other season highlights: Russian piano virtuoso Vassily Primakov plays Chopin selections as part of the Chopin and Schumann Bicentennial Celebration; the program also features pianist Vladimir Feltsman, cellists Edward Arron and Alexis Pia Gerlach, Caramoor Director Michael Barrett, and Maestro Robert Spano of the Atlanta Symphony in his Caramoor debut. Also making a first appearance at Caramoor is the New Shoots Festival, which features bluegrass and traditional American roots music, including New Orleans legend Dr. John and the Lower 9-11. The festival’s eponymous chamber music program hosts the resident Jasper String Quartet, Jupiter String Quartet, and clarinetist Anthony McGill, among others. For something a little spicier, catch the Extreme Chamber Music series featuring 2 Foot Yard, ETHEL, and NPR’s Christopher O’Riley, or the popular Latin American music initiative Sonidos Latinos. The season closes with the Jazz Festival (Aug. 6-8), with larger-than-life performances by Chick Corea, Brad Shepik, and Cuban Chuchito Valdes’ Big Band, among others (www.caramoor.org).
As part of its 2010 Summer Festival, Massachussetts-based Aston Magna (June 17-July 17) includes dates at Bard College’s Olin Auditorium. This early-music fest has made a name for itself by featuring performances of classical songs played on historically accurate period instruments. Friday concerts at Bard include The Virtuoso Violin: Bach’s Three Partitas for Solo Violin (June 18); Completely Mozart, featuring an oboe quartet and clarinet quintet (June 25); Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona (July 9); and a celebration of 17th-century female artist Artemisia Gentileschi, with music by Monteverdi, Marini, Frescobaldi, and others on July 16 (845-758-7425 or www.astonmagna.org).
The Shanghai Quartet
America’s oldest summer chamber music festival, Maverick Concerts (June 24-Sept. 5), is now in its 95th year, offering up a spectacular schedule of jazz, chamber, and world music in the woods above Woodstock. Once again, Music Director Alexander Platt has programmed a rich variety of old and new music, this year focusing on “The Romantic Generations: Barber, Schumann, and Chopin,” in honor of the composers’ centennial and bicentennial anniversaries, respectively. Among the many celebrated artists participating in A Salute to Samuel Barber at 100 are the Borromeo String Quartet, Imani Winds, and baritone Michael Chioldi. Performing in the summer’s standard chamber series are the Tokyo String Quartet (which kicks off the season on June 27), the Shanghai Quartet, the Miró Quartet, duo Opus Two, and Canadian violinist Lara St. John. “Woodstock Legends” concerts feature local folksinger Happy Traum, Indian flute master Steve Gorn, and jazz pianist Fred Hersch. A rare opportunity not to be missed this season is an open rehearsal on Aug. 29 with composer James Matheson, the Borromeo Quartet, and Judith Gordon as they prepare the world premiere of Matheson’s piano quintet (www.maverickconcerts.org).
The Hellcats of West Point
The United States Military Academy kicks off its Music Under the Stars (June 13-Sept. 4) summer concert series in West Point with The History of Jazz, presented by the academy’s Jazz Knights. Held in the historic outdoor Trophy Point Amphitheatre, the series’ concerts take place every Sunday through Labor Day, with a special Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, July 3. Although the academy boasts five ensembles, the summer schedule includes performances by just three: the Jazz Knights; the Hellcats, West Point’s bugle and drum corp; and the Concert Band. The season culminates with the traditional performance of the 1812 Overture on Sept. 4 (845-938-2617 or www.westpoint.edu/band).