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Philadelphia Orchestra Returns To SPAC With An Opening Week Topped By ‘Harry Potter’

The orchestra's residency runs from July 31 through August 17 and features a total of 19 SPAC premieres.

SPAC Summer Season
Music Director and Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra. (Jan Regan)

No summer season in Saratoga Springs would be complete without going to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at its summer home, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). This year, the orchestra’s three-week SPAC residency runs from Wednesday, July 31 through Saturday, August 17, and it’ll be playing a total of 19 SPAC premieres during its stay. For the big Opening Night on July 31, the orchestra has planned an evening of dancing and festive fanfare, including fireworks, live cannon fire and performances by PHILADANCO! (The Philadelphia Dance Company), who are making their SPAC debut. This program will feature some classical music favorites such as Ravel’s La Valse and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (the piece that will put those big cannons to use).

On August 1, an afternoon program, entitled Beyond Baroque, will feature all Baroque or Baroque-inspired works, with a number of Leopold Stokowski’s wonderfully dramatic orchestral arrangements of J.S. Bach’s music. (Though not part of the orchestra’s season, Thursday night will also include the continuation of SPAC’s speaker series with Sandra Postel, the director of the Global Water Policy Project and author of Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity.)

For the orchestra’s third night on August 2, the theme will be Songs of the Seaincluding lots of pieces with watery titles, including Debussy’s The Sunken Cathedral and Four Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, both of which are SPAC debuts. Indonesian pianist Janice Carissa will also make her debut during Songs of the Sea in a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major.

Finally, The Philadelphia Orchestra’s first week of shows will culminate on August 3 with a performance of the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The second installment of the Potter series will be screened at SPAC, while the orchestra plays John Williams’ dreamlike score.

And that’s only the first week! For the orchestra’s full schedule, click here.

Saratoga Race Course Update

There’s just as much going on at Saratoga Race Course this week and weekend, with the running of the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Handicap. (One would suspect that the New York Racing Association will pay tribute to the late Marylou Whitney that day.)

On July 31, racing fans will be invited to the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion from 11am to 5pm for a Taste NY: Food Day. This event will feature food vendors selling snacks and other tasty products made exclusively in New York State.

Fasig-Tipton will present the 6th Annual Jockey Legends Day at the track on August 4. Some of the racing world’s most accomplished jockeys and riders will be present for autograph signings. All donations will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.

Also on Sunday is Sara-“Yoga” presented by Moët & Chandon champagne. This one-hour yoga session will also include a light brunch afterward in the track’s Miller Lite Party Tent.

Just outside the track on August 2, the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame will be hosting its Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Tom Durkin serving as master of ceremonies. At the public event, which takes place at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion, the late Marylou Whitney will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, among others.

This week is a big one in terms of stakes races, with the Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing stretching from August 2 – 4. The festival includes the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3; and a new addition to the summer meet, the $1 million Saratoga Derby, part of the Turf Triple Series, which includes three new races (two at Belmont Park and one at Saratoga Race Course), designed to showcase the best turf runners across the country.

Check out the highlights below:

Wednesday, July 31
$150,000 New York Stallion Series Statue Of Liberty Division

Thursday, August 1
$100,000 Birdstone

Friday, August 2
$750,000 Saratoga Oaks
Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum Of Racing Hall Of Fame
Grade 1, $100,000 Alydar

Saturday, August 3
Whitney Day:
Grade 1, $1 million Whitney
Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test
Grade 3, $200,000 Troy

Sunday, August 4
Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya
Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack
$1 million Saratoga Derby


And for those looking for something other than classical music or horses, check out a number of other great events we’ve handpicked for you below.

Monday

Fela! The Concert, which tells the story of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, is coming to SPAC (July 29)

Tuesday

Come out to Pitney Meadows’ annual Fire Feast fundraiser with all open-fire pit cooking and live music by Saratoga soul singer Garland Nelson (July 30)

Alt-grunge rockers Breaking Benjamin invade SPAC with special guests Three Days Grace and more (July 30)

The grand opening of DeMaranville Farm and Gardens takes place on Lake Avenue in Saratoga (July 30)

Disney’s Beauty & The Beast Jr. kicks off a week of performances at the Cohoes Music Hall in Cohoes (July 30-August 3)

Wednesday

Summer is gala season, especially with the Saratoga Hospital 37th Annual Gala at The Polo Meadow at Saratoga Casino Hotel (July 31)

The Columbian Johanna Casteneda Ensemble will be performing at The Sembrich in Bolton Landing (July 31)

Thursday

Jockeys face horsemen in the 2019 Charity Basketball Game at the Saratoga Springs YMCA (August 1)

Join Capital Region Dead Heads at Proctors in Schenectady to celebrate the 9th Annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies (August 1)

Spiritual Rez + Roots of Creation are playing at Putnam Place in Saratoga (August 1)

Joan Kelsey’s Silver Lining is playing at Skidmore’s Tang Museum as part of the college’s Upbeat on the Roof free concert series (August 1)

Comedian Dave Chappelle will join hip-hop band The Roots for four nights of Rootsapalooza at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan (August 1-3 and August 9)

The Luzerne Music Center will be presenting its Gala Under the Stars (August 1)

Friday

Raise a glass to aftercare track workers during Lauding Legacy: A Thoroughbred Aftercare Celebration at Canfield Casino Hotel in Saratoga (August 2)

John Parisella will discuss his memoir From the Streets of Brooklyn to Trainer to the Stars at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga (August 2)

All weekend is the Rockin’ with Ronald Fest on the shores of Lake George at Shephard Park in Lake George Village (August 2-4)

Two teenagers find a mysterious book about the elements of good and evil in iTheatre Saratoga’s presentation of Guardians of the Treasure at St. Clement’s School in Saratoga (August 2-4)

Catch a live performance of the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck (every weekend August 2-18)

Saturday

Pay a visit to the 9th Annual Bangladeshi Cultural Fair of 2019 at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park in Hudson (August 3)

Summer on the Hudson: Sweet Spot Festival is a family-friendly gathering of culture and music at the West Harlem Piers in Manhattan (August 3)

Barbra Streisand is bringing her unforgettable show to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan (August 3)

Enjoy a racing-themed Saturday Morning Social at the National Musem of Racing in Saratoga (August 3)

Don’t miss Friends Fest VI, ten hours of live music and entertainment, at Nanola in Malta (August 3)

The Black Arts and Cultural Festival is coming to Albany’s Empire State Plaza (August 3)

Celebrate the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga with the Turning Point Parade and Festival in Schuylerville (August 3-4)

Eight actor-musicians will present the story of Ace Baker in the musical Beau at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls (August 3-9)

Sunday

Hootie and the Blowfish, with special guests the Barenaked Ladies, are bringing their Group Therapy Tour to SPAC (August 4)

Music Haven’s Annual Summer Social will be all the buzz this year in Schenectady’s Central Park (August 4)

Capital Region rocker and The Voice finalist Moriah Formica will play at Clifton Park’s Performing Arts at the Common concert series (August 4)

Get in on the best cocktail party in New York State with the Secret Summer NYC Cocktail Festival at The Foundry in Queens (August 4)

Home Made Theater presents two performances of the Tony Award-winning dark comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Caffè Lena in Saratoga (August 4)

Head out to City Park in Glens Falls to take part in the inaugural Glens Falls Roots Vegan Festival (August 4)

Congregation Shaara Tfille in Saratoga presents Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People on the fascinating life of the man who created the prestigious prize (August 4)

Grammy winners Herb Alpert and Lani Hall will perform medleys of their ’60s hits at The Egg in Albany (August 4)

Old Friends At Cabin Creek, a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Saratoga, is celebrating its 10th Anniversary with its “After the Race” Cocktail Party at Saratoga National Gold Course (August 4)

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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