Caramoor’s 71st summer season draws to a triumphant close this Sunday, August 7, when Gil Shaham – “the outstanding American violinist of his generation” (Time magazine) – headlines this year’s Summer Season Finale. With the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) and its Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, named Musical America’s 2014 Conductor of the Year, the master violinist plays Brahms’s beloved Violin Concerto alongside OSL’s rendition of the composer’s pastoral Second Symphony. The performance takes place in the superb acoustics of the Venetian Theater on the historic Caramoor estate – 90 acres of picturesque Italianate architecture and gardens in Katonah, Westchester, just one hour’s drive from Manhattan – and will be broadcast live on WQXR, New York City’s only dedicated classical station. Click here to see Shaham play the Brahms concerto.
Hailed as “one of the most versatile and galvanic ensembles in the U.S.” (WQXR), the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL) was first formally founded at Caramoor, and has long made the idyllic estate its summer home. Like the orchestra, Shaham is a Caramoor favorite of very long standing; it is almost two full decades since his season-opening collaboration with OSL 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 Summer Season Finale will 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.
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This final concert crowns another glorious summer season at Caramoor. Highlights of the summer included performances by this year’s Artist-in-Residence, Jonathan Biss, who combined a focus on Beethoven with the New York premiere of The Blind Banister (a Caramoor co-commission) by Timo Andres; and Bel Canto at Caramoor’s centuries-overdue American premiere of Rossini’s long-lost opera, Aureliano in Palmira.
What critics are saying about Biss and The Blind Banister:
In an in-depth preview of his residency, the New York Times called Biss “a leading exponent of Beethoven,” and after his account of the master composer’s Second Piano Concerto, the Superconductor blog observed:
“He introduced the spare, almost geometric themes that showed Beethoven’s unique approach to the instrument and hinted at what lay in the composer’s future. The artist chose to use the later, revised cadenza in the first movement, making this solo passage a thrilling ride of descending intervals and obsessive turns into labyrinthine counterpoint. The lyric second movement and the quicksilver finale were played with gracious, singing tone and what’s more important, profound meaning in each note from the piano.”
As for Andres’s new concerto, Superconductor pronounced it “dazzling,” and the New Yorker explained:
“The Blind Banister is a deeply complex tribute to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major. … Like John Adams and the late Steven Stucky, Andres has succeeded in carrying forward the mainstream tradition of orchestral modernism. … in a way that is no less distinctive for seeming so ironic and abashed: the piece is at once gently private and powerfully communal in its gestures and devices.”
What critics are saying about Aureliano in Palmira
Caramoor’s presentation of the rediscovered Rossini opera Aureliano in Palmira also won over both audience and critics, with particular notice given to Director of Opera, Will Crutchfield, whose extensive work creating the new critical edition of the long-neglected opera made the premiere possible. Beyond his work behind the scenes, the Financial Times lauded Crutchfield’s conducting of the opera, praising his “stylistic authority unmatched in this repertoire in the US.” The Huffington Post went further, calling the performance “operatic history”:
“Conductor Will Crutchfield, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and a cast of impressive singers made some operatic history this weekend at Caramoor Music Festival in Katonah with the first U.S. performance of a new Aureliano in Palmira, a work by Rossini that had all but disappeared from the repertoire after its 1813 premiere.”
For high-resolution photos, click here.
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 1,546-seat, acoustically superb Venetian Theater, and the more intimate, romantic 500-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.
Aug 7Caramoor: Summer Season FinaleTickets are $20, $35, $45, $55, $68, $80
Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 (Gil Shaham, violin)
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
(Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Pablo Heras-Casado)
All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The 2016 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
© 21C Media Group, August 2016