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Grammy-Nominated Jazz Legend Fred Hersch To Play Pair Of Shows At Caffè Lena This Sunday

In a show rescheduled from this summer, the jazz pianist Hersch will be performing and paying homage to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Fred Hersch
Originally slated as part of Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Fest, Hersch's two midsummer performances at Lena had to be rescheduled to December due to health reasons. (Jim Wilkie)

In the midst of last-minute Christmas shopping and stressful holiday travel plans, why not take a little breather with some phenomenal music performed by one of the world’s foremost jazz musicians? Presented in collaboration with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Grammy-nominated jazz master and pianist Fred Hersch is coming to the Spa City this Sunday, December 22, to play two exclusive shows at Caffè Lena, billed as “An Evening with Fred Hersch: 50 Years After The Stonewall Riots.” In addition to performing both jazz standards and his original compositions, Hersch will also share moments from his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, and discuss how the Stonewall Riots in 1969 affected him as an openly gay musician.

“Fred Hersch is one of the most lyrical, poetic and transcendent jazz pianists of our time, and also one of my favorite artists,” President and CEO of SPAC Elizabeth Sobol tells saratoga living. “We look forward to bringing him to Caffè Lena. Although a few months later, the evening will be a moving tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that had a profound impact on Fred as the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player.”

Originally slated as part of Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest, Hersch’s two midsummer performances had to be rescheduled to December due to health reasons. The combination concert-discussion this Sunday will be well worth the wait. For more than three decades, Hersch has earned a wide array of accolades as an improviser, bandleader, composer, bestselling author, recording artist and educator. Some of those awards and honors include a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, honorary doctorates from Northern Kentucky University and Grinnell College, as well as a staggering 15 Grammy nominations. (Hersh recently earned his 15th nomination for his song “Begin Again,” which is up for Best Instrumental Composition at the 2020 Grammy Awards.)

Tickets are still available for both the early and late performances at the Saratoga venue. And to find more to do this last full week and weekend before Christmas (Hanukkah also begins at sundown on December 22), peruse saratoga living‘s hand-curated list of events below.

Monday

Have a merry time during the Annual Meeting, Holiday Reception and 8th Annual Photography Show Opening at Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park (December 16)

At Proctors in Schenectady for one night only is Gorillaz: Reject False Icons, a brand new  documentary from the popular virtual band Gorillaz (December 16)

Tuesday

Enjoy a mind-blowing magic show during The Illusionists—Magic of the Holidays at the Palace Theatre in Albany (December 17)

The classic Broadway musical Annie will kick off a week of performances at the Cohoes Music Hall (December 17-22)

Wednesday

See an all-new touring production of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage at Albany’s Palace Theatre (December 18)

Get your best ugly Christmas sweater ready for Dysfunctional Family Christmas Trivia at Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga (December 18)

Legendary opera singer Andrea Bocelli will perform two sets at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan (December 18-19)

Thursday

SPAC presents VOCES8, an acclaimed British a cappella ensemble at Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs (December 19)

The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council will throw its Annual Holiday Party at 7 Lapham Place in Glens Falls (December 19)

Bring an unwrapped gift and a small holiday donation to Gift Wrapping for a Cause at Unified Beerworks in Malta (December 19)

Now in its 40th year, CBS 6 Melodies will present its Melodies of Christmas at Proctors in Schenectady (December 19-22)

Friday

Caffè Lena in Saratoga will welcome the return of the gypsy jazz ensemble Hot Club with their artist-in-residence, guitarist Dennis Pol (December 20)

Catch an incredible concert featuring Fixed Fate, Lil Deadpopstar, Katherine Winston and more at Putnam Place in Saratoga (December 20)

Don’t miss the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society’s Candlelight Festival of Carols at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville (December 20)

Jazz singer-songwriter Tony DeSare and Broadway legend Capathia Jenkins will join the New York Pops for its Annual Holiday Celebration at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan (December 20-21)

Saturday

Classical pianist Sophia Subbayya Vastek and saxophonist Sam Torres will perform at The Linda in Albany (December 21)

Renowned comedian and actor Colin Quinn will present his latest standup routine, Wrong Side of History, at Albany’s The Egg (December 21)

The Broadway Comedy Club in Manhattan presents an evening full of New York City’s top comedic talent, including acts featured on HBO, The Tonight Show and Comedy Central (December 21)

The historic Hudson Opera House is throwing a Kwanzaa celebration in the opera house’s Hudson Hall (December 21)

Sunday

Enjoy a classic holiday tale, plus a delicious meal, at A Christmas Carol: A Holiday Dinner Show at Rhinebeck’s Beekman Arms-Delamater Inn (December 22)

Albany band State Champs presents its Frozen Fest at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park (December 22)

Everett Bradley’s Holidelic, a fun, funk-infused holiday spectacular, will take place at Hudson’s Club Helsinki (December 22)

Jeff Dingler
Jeff Dingler

Jeff Dingler is saratoga living's Senior Writer. He's a graduate of Skidmore College and a professional musician.

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