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The Philadelphia Orchestra Brings Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ To SPAC For The First Time Ever

Conductor Kensho Watanabe will be standing in for Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who will return to SPAC on August 16.

Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe steps in to lead The Philadelphia Orchestra for this week's performances, which include August 8's SPAC debut of 'Appalachian Spring.' (Matthew Hall/Philadelphia Orchestra)

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s opening week of performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) was nothing short of sublime. However, as good as week one was—with its fireworks, live cannon fire and a performance of John Williams’ soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (while the movie played)—week two is packing just as big a punch.

Star Conductor and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin was slated to take up the baton at SPAC on Wednesday, August 7. However, due to an injury sustained by his partner, Pierre Tourville, Yannick is delaying his highly anticipated return to Saratoga until Friday, August 16. That won’t affect the programming of this week’s performances, of course, as Kensho Watanabe, Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, steps in to guide the orchestra on Wednesday, August 7 for a night of the symphony’s personal favorites: Clyne’s Masquerade, Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and the lovely Symphony No. 1 by Russian composer Rachmaninoff. Watanabe will also be leading the orchestra for an important, and surprising, SPAC debut the following day. That is, Aaron Copland’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Appalachian Spring, which audiences have waited more than 50 years to hear the orchestra play at the venue.

Appalachian Spring is one of those works so emblematic of American classical music that, frankly, it’s a little surprising that the 20-minute-plus piece hasn’t been played yet during a single Saratoga summer season. Originally commissioned in 1942 as a ballet with a 13-instrument chamber orchestra and premiered at the Library of Congress in 1944, it went on to win Copland the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The suite was later shortened and arranged for a much larger orchestra, and it’s this full orchestral version that will, at long last, be making its SPAC debut in concert this Thursday, August 8. The concert will also feature two other big SPAC premieres: blue cathedral by composer Jennifer Higdon and Anthology of Fantastic Zoology by composer Mason Bates, as well as one non-American piece, the classic Fountains of Rome by Respighi. The whole program was handpicked by Nézet-Séguin and shares a common theme of nature.

In addition to the auspicious premiere of Appalachian Spring, the Philadelphia Orchestra will close out its second week at SPAC with a night of South American Sounds on Friday, August 9, under the baton of Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, as well as a performance of Disney Pixar’s Up, with the orchestra once again playing the film’s soundtrack while the movie is screened, on Saturday, August 10. For tickets and more information, visit SPAC’s website.

Saratoga Race Course Update

Here’s a roundup of everything going on in Saratoga’s horse racing world this week and weekend:

On Tuesday, August 8, the 12th Annual Visión exhibit will take place at Saratoga Race Course’s 1863 Club Patio, offering a behind-the-scenes look at backstretch photography from the “Estamos Aquí” (We Are Here) series. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council’s Latino Community Advocacy Program, which is headquartered at the recreation hall at Saratoga Race Course.

Two can’t-miss events are taking place on Wednesday, August 7. First up is one of the track’s giveaway days; everyone who pays admission will receive a free Saratoga Race Course baseball cap. There’s a limited number, so be sure to get there early to grab one. Police officers, paramedics, firefighters and EMTs will also be honored at the track on Wednesday with the Saratoga Race Course’s First Responder Day. There will be interactive exhibits and activities at The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion, and all first responders will also receive free Grandstand admission with ID that day.

On Thursday, August 8, celebrate women in racing and raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by heading to the Fabulous Fillies Day. All jockeys in this day’s card will wear pink armbands, and the track will be decorated with pink bunting and flowers. In addition to this, the iconic Thoroughbred statue in the Paddock of Sea Hero will be draped with a pink horse blanket.

And if you’re looking to grab some brunch at the track, Sunday, August 11 will feature Bubbles & Brunch at the 1863 Club, a bevy of brunch buffet foods with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. (A second Bubbles & Brunch will take place on Sunday, August 25.)

And now for the big stakes this week. Get your racing sheets ready:

Wednesday, August 7
$100,000 Evan Shipman
$100,000 Mahony

Thursday, August 8
$100,000 Saratoga Dew

Friday, August 9
$100,000 Tale Of The Cat

Saturday, August 10
Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap
Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special

Sunday, August 11
$100,000 Galway

Want to take a deeper dive into the Capital Region’s calendar of event? Check out saratoga living‘s hand-curated list of summer fun below.

Monday

Get your tickets to the Fashionable Fillies Luncheon at Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs (August 5)

Take part in an entertaining conversation with Robin Traywick Williams, author of The Key to the Quarter Pole, at the Union Gables Inn in Saratoga (August 5)

Tuesday

Enjoy some Croquet on the Green, an amateur tournament open to all ages at Gavin Park in Wilton (August 6)

Pop band Why Don’t We is playing the Palace Theater in Albany (August 6)

Based on the popular 1992 animated film of the same name, Disney’s Newsies musical is coming to the Park Playhouse in Albany’s Washington Park (August 6-24)

Wednesday

Plein air artists (artists who paint outdoors or “en plein air”) from across the Northeast will be exhibited in the juried Plein Air Festival at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls (August 7)

Get ready to stuff yourself at the New York State Food Festival at the Empire State Plaza in Albany (August 7)

Don’t miss the 11th Annual Country and Bluegrass Jamboree at the Little Theater on the Farm in Fort Edward (August 7)

Thursday

This year’s Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon, benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, will take place at Saratoga Race Course’s Rail Pavilion (August 8)

Rock the Block: Rocket Man Show, a free tribute concert to Elton John, will bring plenty of fun to 72 Remsen Street in Cohoes (August 8)

Actor, writer and comedian Tom Segura will be performing at the Palace Theatre in Albany (August 8)

Visit local artist Rumara Jewett and see what she’s up to at her Open Studio Evening above Wheatfields on the 2nd floor of 444 Broadway in Saratoga (August 8)

Schenectady’s Classic Theater Guild presents Shakesplaining, a lighthearted dive into some of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes at Congregation Beth Israel (August 8) and Proctors Theatre (August 10)

The Bel Canto Institute Singers are performing at The Sembrich in Bolton Landing (August 8)

Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime, one of the country’s most popular cover bands, is playing at Putnam Place in Saratoga (August 8)

Grammy and Emmy-winning singer/composer Harry Connick, Jr. will be playing two sets at The Egg in Albany (August 8-9)

Friday

Take in some history with the 262nd Commemoration of the Surrender of Fort William Henry at the Fort William Henry Museum in Lake George Village (August 9)

SUNY Schenectady’s Barbershop Quartet, Out of Time, will perform classic barbershop music at the Addy in Proctors Theatre (August 9)

Eat healthy at the Brooklyn Food and Fitness Festival 2019 in Dr. Ronald McNair Park (August 9)

Catch A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Shakespeare at the Park (Dinner) Theater in Glens Falls (August 9-10)

The All White Affair Boat Party around Manhattan will be setting sail this weekend at Pier 15 Hornblower Cruises & Events in New York City (August 9-10)

Home Made Theater‘s popular Youth Theater Conservatory program will present Once on This Island Jr. at Saratoga Arts (August 9-10)

Pinball wizards and gamers will love the 2019 Saratoga Pinball & Arcade Show at the Saratoga Regional YMCA (August 9-10)

Take part in fun all weekend long at the Annual Hudson Black Arts and Cultural Festival & Parade at the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in Hudson (August 9-11)

Enjoy an overabundance of traditional Italian food and live music all weekend at the St. Margaret of Cortona Annual Festa at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Schenectady (August 9-11)

Saturday

Catch the exhibition opening of Ree Morton—The Plant that Heals May Also Poison at Skidmore’s Tang Museum in Saratoga (August 10)

The Ajkun Ballet Theatre presents The Sleeping Beauty by Romantic Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky at Albany’s The Egg (August 10)

Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville hosts its family-friendly 15th Annual Cardboard Boat Race (August 10, with a rain date on August 11)

The Saratoga Automobile Museum’s Tuners in the Park 5 will be held on the lawn of the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Spa State Park (August 10)

Celebrate Fort Ticonderoga’s rich history with its Summer Gala Dinner in Ticonderoga (August 10)

Hip-hop artist Suave the Don will be performing at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park (August 10)

Don’t miss all the family fun and youth exhibits at the Warren County Youth Fair at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Warrensburg (August 10)

Explore the importance of women in the history of flight with the Women in Aviation Weekend at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodome in Red Hook (August 10-11)

The 2019 TIME:SPANS Contemporary Music Festival, which presents a wide array of mostly twenty-first-century music, kicks off at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Manhattan (August 10-28)

Sunday

Nu metal band Korn, with special guest Alice in Chains bring their North American Tour to SPAC in Saratoga (August 11)

Americana folk quartet Mipso is performing two sets of Southern string music at Caffè Lena (August 11)

Violinist Philip Kates and members of The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, exploring the works of American immigrant composers at The Sembrich in Bolton Landing (August 11)

Take a trip back in time with the Annual 18th Century Day at the historic Schuyler House in Schuylerville (August 11)

Get those legs moving at the 38th Annual Battery Dance Festival at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Manhattan (August 11)

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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