SARATOGA SPRINGS — Classical summer concert nights at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center are a bit like sipping fresh-squeezed lemonade on a Georgian mansion’s veranda while the intoxicating sounds of violin, piano and bass float among ancient trees.

At SPAC there’s a unique soul resonance. Like echoes in the park, deeply rich artistry blends and mixes with balmy Saratoga nights, historic grounds and a much longed for breeze to carry the experience forward.

And this summer’s newly announced 2019 Classical Season, running from July 16 through Aug. 20, again promises long-remembered adventurous evenings.

“This season is really a wonderful discovery,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC.

Consider the sensory adventure of watching “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” on massive, 40-foot LED, high-definition screens outdoors in the park, while the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra plays John Williams’ Grammy-nominated score live to the film’s fantastical imagery.

“John Williams is one of the greatest American composers,” said Sobol.

In the same Cinema Series offered as part of the Classical Season, for the first time, an old Charlie Chaplin film, “City Lights,” will be shown on the high-definition screens along with live accompaniment by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Or what about legendary jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center together in the park?

Comprising 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, under music director, Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wynton Marsalis, performs rare historic pieces, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman and Charles Mingus.

“To have these important American musicians at one have them here is really what’s so unique and magical about SPAC,” said Sobol.

For the Classical Season, SPAC welcomes home resident companies — New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center — as they begin their 53rd summer in Saratoga Springs.

“They are among the greatest in the world,” said Sobol. “And they perform in this unparalleled, natural setting.”

The New York City Ballet will feature the story ballet, “Coppélia,” which premiered at SPAC; an evening dedicated to Balanchine and Tschaikovsky; and a program showcasing four SPAC premieres by 21st century choreographers.

Kyle Abraham’s, “The Runaway,” 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 July 20, will showcase George Balanchine’s “Apollo,” Christopher Wheeldon’s, “This Bitter Earth” and a new piece by resident choreographer and soloist Justin Peck.

“Whether you are a Balanchine lover or enjoy adventurous new works, you will find something thrilling and exceptional during this season,” said Sobol.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s three-week residency will be highlighted by 19 SPAC premieres, marking a record number of pieces that have never before been performed on SPAC’s stage.

Of particular note in the season is Mozart’s hauntingly profound requiem that came at the very end of his life. Mozart died before he could finish his final work.

The requiem features four renowned vocalists and Albany Pro Musica, which Sobol said is considered one of the greatest expressions of faith ever cast as a work of art.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center — performing inside at the Spa Little Theater — returns with with 23 works never performed by CMS at SPAC, according to Sobol.

“I love this place with all my heart, it is so unique and magical,” she said.

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.


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