This past Wednesday, August 5, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announced its first-ever Beethoven Virtual Festival, which will feature a number of musical events throughout the month of August celebrating the 250th anniversary of the famed composer’s birth. The first event of the series kicks off right after the Travers Stakes on August 8 at 8pm.
Before SPAC was forced to cancel its classical season because of COVID-19, the plan was for the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, to perform all nine Beethoven symphonies across four consecutive nights in August. Obviously, that plan had to be reworked, and the result is the Beethoven Virtual Festival. Earlier this summer, SPAC also had to reimagine its popular Freihofer’s Jazz Fest as a virtual event, and, in partnership with Caffè Lena, presented a series of Freihofer’s Jazz Fest Stay Home Sessions. Both events are part of the organization’s 2020 SPAC REIMAGINED campaign.
Highlights of the Beethoven Virtual Festival include a Caffè Lena “Stay Home Session” concert with musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra (August 15); an exclusive performance by pianist Jonathan Biss (August 21); and the world premiere of TESTAMENT, a theatrical production by Saratoga Shakespeare Company (August 22). Additional programming, available on SPAC’s new Beethoven Festival website, includes recordings of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, a lecture series by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Co-Artistic Director David Finckel and videos by New York City Ballet dancers set to Beethoven’s music.
“SPAC’s planned presentation of the complete Beethoven symphony cycle with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin was slated to be some of our most important programming of the season,” SPAC President & CEO Elizabeth Sobol says. “Instead, we are honoring the great composer with a season-long virtual festival and a completely new online platform with all nine symphonies, an exclusive concert with Jonathan Biss, a special lecture series, our gorgeous SPAC REIMAGINED ballet shorts set to his music and much more. It is our hope that this curated collection will still provide a profound and deeply moving musical experience—just in a new format.”
All Beethoven Virtual Festival programming will be available to view for free via SPACBeethoven.org. A selection of events will also be screened on SPAC’s grounds for members only, with attendance limited to 50 people.
Beethoven Virtual Festival Events
AUGUST 8 @ 8PM: CMS Front Row: Summer Evenings
AUGUST 14 @ 8PM: Beethoven Symphony Watch Party with The Philadelphia Orchestra
AUGUST 15 @ 8PM: Caffè Lena “Stay Home Session” with Philadelphia Orchestra musicians
AUGUST 17 (Part I) & AUGUST 18 (Part II) @ 7PM: Symposium on Beethoven’s Fidelio, Presented by Opera Saratoga
AUGUST 21 @ 8PM: Jonathan Biss: In Concert & Conversation
AUGUST 22 @ 8PM: WORLD PREMIERE! Testament, Presented in collaboration with Saratoga Shakespeare Company