Orchestra of St. Luke’s Kicks Off Caramoor Residency with Opening Night Gala and Concert, “A Starlit Evening,” Featuring Broadway’s Kelli O’Hara (June 18)
Hot off her Tony Award-winning turn in Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I, Broadway sensation Kelli O’Hara joins the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) to kick off Caramoor’s 71st summer season with “A Starlit Evening.” This high-wattage Opening Night Gala features a festive program of Broadway showstoppers and favorites from the Great American Songbook, under the leadership of Lucille Lortel Award-winning conductor Rob Fisher. Recognizing Caramoor’s exceptional commitment to nurturing young talent, the gala pays tribute to its Young Artist Programs, many of whose alumni are now leaders in their field, like violinist Frank Huang, Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, and MacArthur “genius grant”-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who inaugurated Caramoor’s Artist-in-Residence program two years ago. This summer’s returning alumni include the 2016 incumbent of that program, pianist Jonathan Biss; tenor Andrew Owens, star of Aureliano in Palmira; cellist Edward Arron, whose annual chamber collaborations are a Caramoor favorite; members of the Aizuri Quartet, this year’s Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence; and the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet, which held the same title 14 seasons ago. With a celebratory pre-concert cocktail reception and dinner, premium concert seating in the Venetian Theater, and an “After Dark” party for post-concert drinking, dancing, and desserts, “A Starlit Evening” takes place on the historic Caramoor estate: 90 acres of picturesque Italianate architecture and gardens in Katonah, Westchester, just one hour’s drive from Manhattan (June 18). For those unable to attend, the concert – like Caramoor’s Summer Season Finale (Aug 7) – will be broadcast live on WQXR, New York City’s only dedicated classical station.
The Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Caramoor
The Opening Night Gala launches a summer-long residency at Caramoor for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s – hailed as “one of the most versatile and galvanic ensembles in the U.S.” (WQXR) – which has long made the idyllic estate its summer home. It was at Caramoor that OSL was first formally founded, back in 1979, since which time the two have enjoyed an intimate and enduring partnership. It was also at Caramoor in the 2011 summer season that OSL first played under the direction of Pablo Heras-Casado, whose instant rapport with the ensemble was such that before the year was out he had already been named its Principal Conductor. The appointment has proved a fortuitous one. Musical America’s 2014 Conductor of the Year, Heras-Casado and the orchestra enjoy rare chemistry; as the New York Times observes, “Under the leadership of its firebrand music director, Pablo Heras-Casado, this is an ensemble to watch.”
Rounding out OSL’s summer season: Biss, Shaham, and Bel Canto at Caramoor
OSL makes its second appearance of the summer in a tour de force that showcases 2016 Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Biss, an alumnus of Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars program and “a truly world-class pianist” (The Guardian). The program’s centerpiece is the New York premiere of Timo Andres’s Third Piano Concerto, The Blind Banister, which was co-commissioned for Biss by Caramoor as part of the pianist’s multi-season Beethoven/5 project, and has just been named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Andres’s concerto was inspired by Beethoven’s Second, with which it shares the first half of the program, while the second half pairs Haydn’s Symphony No. 98 with a neoclassical response to it, Bohuslav Martinů’s La Jolla Sinfonietta. Joshua Weilerstein, Artistic Director of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (and brother of 2014 Artist-in-Residence Alisa), leads the orchestra in what marks his official Caramoor debut (July 10). (The young conductor did, however, make an impromptu appearance at Caramoor five years ago, during his first week as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, when he stepped in for a stuck-in-transit Alan Gilbert.)
OSL also plays a vital part in opera at Caramoor. It was after last season’s Bel Canto at Caramoor presentation – Donizetti’s La favorite – that the Wall Street Journal declared: “The Orchestra of St. Luke’s shone,” and the orchestra once again serves as the cornerstone of both semi-staged offerings in the series this summer. Marking the first time that an opera in the Bel Canto program will have been led by a guest conductor, Heras-Casado makes his operatic company debut in Beethoven’s sole opera, Fidelio (July 31). Known for innovative Beethoven interpretations that combine a “period-practice attention to sharp-edged attacks and transparent textures” with “a Modernist’s love of exciting rhythm and dissonance” (Los Angeles Times), Heras-Casado has been dubbed “the thinking person’s idea of a hotshot young conductor” (New York Times). Under the baton of Caramoor’s Director of Opera Will Crutchfield, OSL also anchors the centuries-overdue American premiere of Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira, winner of last year’s International Opera Award for Best Rediscovered Work (July 16).
Heras-Casado takes the helm once again when, as has become traditional, it is the Orchestra of St. Luke’s that draws Caramoor’s summer to a close. This year’s Summer Season Finale, which will be broadcast live on WQXR, pairs Brahms’s Second Symphony with his beloved and monumental Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham, widely recognized as “the outstanding American violinist of his generation” (Time magazine), as soloist (Aug 7). Like OSL, Shaham is a Caramoor favorite of very long standing; it is almost two full decades since his season-opening collaboration with the orchestra that prompted the New York Times’ Paul Griffiths to marvel:
“I can’t imagine that things often go wrong at Caramoor. The conditions of the place – the Venetian colonnade around the outdoor stage, the proximity of gardens, the night air, the almost startling presence of the sound inside the tented auditorium – would all conspire to bring out the best in musicians and audiences. But surely things can rarely go so right as they did tonight.”
The 71st summer season marks the third consecutive year that WQXR has joined forces with Caramoor to present live broadcasts of selected events. The 2016 Opening Night Gala and Summer Season Finale will both air on WQXR 105.9 FM; its sister station, WQXW 90.3 FM, serving Central and Northern Westchester; and at www.wqxr.org, reaching online audiences worldwide.
For more than 70 years, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts has been a leading destination for music lovers. Comprising a Mediterranean revival villa on 90 acres of gardens and serene woodlands in Westchester County, NY, the estate is just 40 miles north of Manhattan. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters – the 1,508-seat, acoustically superb Venetian Theater, and the more intimate, romantic 470-seat Spanish Courtyard – as well as in the picturesque gardens, which include a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, Sunken Garden, Butterfly Garden, Tapestry Hedge, and Iris and Peony Garden. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the grounds, tour the historic Rosen House, enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon tea, or unwind with a pre-concert picnic. In addition to the summer season, Caramoor presents concerts all year round in the magnificent Rosen House Music Room. Through an impressive range of education programs, Caramoor serves more than 6,000 students in the New York metropolitan area, besides boasting an array of highly successful mentorship programs designed for young professionals who have completed their conservatory training. Over the past 20 years, alumni from these programs have become leaders of the next classical generation, whose accomplishments include winning a MacArthur Fellowship, becoming first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, and appointment as the Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.
Getting to Caramoor
Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.
By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.
By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for every event Thursdays through Sundays. For current information, check the Metro North schedule.
For the opera performances, Caramoor offers ticketed, round-trip transportation from NYC on the Caramoor Coach, a luxury air-conditioned coach traveling from Grand Central/Lexington Ave to Caramoor’s front door and back. To learn more, contact the Box Office.
Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Caramoor, summer 2016
Opening Night (with pre-concert gala)
Conductor: Rob Fisher
Broadway showstoppers; favorites from the Great American Songbook (with Kelli O’Hara, soprano)
Conductor: Joshua Weilerstein
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Biss, piano)
Timo Andres: The Blind Banister, Concerto No. 3 (New York premiere of Caramoor co-commission; with Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Biss, piano)
Martinů: La Jolla Sinfonietta for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
Haydn: Symphony No. 98
Opera: Rossini: Aureliano in Palmira
Bel Canto at Caramoor
Conductor: Will Crutchfield
Aureliano: Andrew Owens, tenor
Zenobia: Georgia Jarman, soprano
Arsace: Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano
Opera: Beethoven: Fidelio
Bel Canto Young Artists
Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado
Leonore: Elza van den Heever, soprano
Florestan: Paul Groves, tenor
Marzelline: Georgia Jarman, soprano
Rocco: Kristinn Sigmundsson, bass
Jaquino: Andrew Owens, tenor
Don Pizarro: Alfred Walker, bass-baritone
Summer Season Finale
Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado
Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77 (with Gil Shaham, violin)
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73
# # #