Truman Capote with Barry Seiler at the Roxbury Public Library;
Pianos in Vienna and London around 1800s at the Doctorow Center for the Arts;
And, Dia:Beacon Community Free Day – at 3 pm Alisa Besher and Hannah Verrill will facilitate Dialogue Duet: Robert Irwin and Sol LeWitt, inviting visitors to engage in dialogue while observing the works of the two artists side by side.
Maverick Concert Hall, founded in 1916, is the oldest continuous chamber music festival in the country. The festival, running from June to early September, presents an eclectic program of the Catskills folk songs, jazz as well as classical music. On June 28 this year the original 1916 concert, which featured music by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch, and Robert Schumann, will be reproduced to mark the beginning of the Maverick’s centennial program. In 2016 the festival will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
I spoke with conductor Alexander Platt, the music director of the Maverick Concerts.
A research scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities before he entered college, Alexander Platt was educated at Yale College, King’s College Cambridge (where he was a British Marshall Scholar), and as a conducting fellow at both Aspen and Tanglewood. At Cambridge he was the first American to hold the coveted post of Assistant Conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as conductor of the Cambridge University Opera Society he led revivals of both Berlioz’s BEATRICE AND BENEDICT and Britten’s OWEN WINGRAVE, to high praise in the London press. During this time he also made his professional conducting debut at the Aldeburgh Festival, his London debut at the Wigmore Hall, and reconstructed the lost chamber version of the Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which has gone on to become a classic of the repertoire. In addition to recording for Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the South-West German Radio and the BBC, his recording of the Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with violinist Rachel Barton Pine is still heard frequently on radio stations across America.
Simona David: Alexander, you are the musical director for several symphony orchestras: the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, the Marion Indiana Philharmonic, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic. You have conducted other orchestras as well. Talk a little bit about your work: what does it take and what does it mean for you to conduct orchestras?
Alexander Platt: It’s important to gain valuable experience over years and decades. Conducting an orchestra whether you have twenty-five people in front of you or a hundred and twenty-five it’s like being in the middle of Grand Central Station at rush hour. You’re hearing all these disperse sounds, and your job is to sort out all those sounds and mold them together. Ultimately it’s a very mysterious process like telepathy, when without saying a word you, as a conductor, blend the sounds together by your physical movements and your inner vision of the music. Some of the greatest rehearsals in the history of orchestras happened without the conductor saying a word.
SD: Your repertoire is so extensive: the level of familiarity you have with hundreds of works – all major composers from the Baroque era, Classical era, modern composers, and you’re also engaged with other musical genres such as folk and jazz – it’s impressive. Let’s talk a bit about your repertoire and what you like most.
AP: What I like most as a conductor is the central line of mid-19th century great composers, starting in the late 18th century with Haydn and Mozart, and then going through Schubert and Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, Elgar and Sibelius. I’m actually very old-fashioned in that regard. I do have a special love for the music Mahler because my graduate thesis at Cambridge was to reconstruct a lost Chamber version from Vienna in the 1920s of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I think the works of Dvorak, the great Czech composer, are vastly underplayed. We literally hear two or three pieces by Dvorak, we hear the great New World Symphony, which is great work that brought joy to millions and millions of people, but the man did write eight other symphonies. Each of them is a gem. I’m probably the only American conductor of my generation who has all nine of the Dvorak’s symphonies in his active repertoire. I very much live in the 19th century as a conductor.
SD: You conduct both symphony orchestras and operas. How are they different, and how do you approach them?
AP: That’s a wonderful question. Conducting opera and conducting orchestras are two occupations that are completely different. On the more mundane level they’re completely different in regard to scheduling – one of the reasons why now I’m mostly working with orchestras. If you work with an orchestra to prepare a concert it’s one week of rehearsal, it’s three – four rehearsals over a week, and then one or two concert performances. When you prepare an opera, that is a six week project minimum, often a couple of months with many weeks of rehearsals, and at least two weeks of shows. Also, more importantly, on a musical level, it’s a totally different mode of rehearsing. When you’re a symphony orchestra conductor, you basically run the show. Even in the most egalitarian structure, somebody has to be the boss. It’s just not enough time to open up every question of interpretation. In opera rehearsal it’s inherently much more complicated. The conductor is just one of many planks of leadership, if you will. The conductor is in constant collaboration with the stage director, and the principal singers. So there are two vastly different experiences.
SD: You’ve been the musical director of Maverick Concerts since 2002. The festival will celebrate its centennial this summer. Let’s talk a bit about the beginnings of the festival.
AP: In the midst of WWI a bunch of free thinking artists in the hills around Woodstock decided to mount a festival of classical music for the relief of Belgian war refugees, which was a very noble cause at that time. It was Hervey White who founded the festival. Hervey and his buddies found a book of drawings of French cathedrals and without any engineering or architectural experience they built the concert hall in the fall of 1915 – spring of 1916. The concert hall still stands today. In 1916 began the first series of what we call the Maverick Concerts. The festival has literally been going ever since. It’s a very simple, very pure experience which I think is part of the festival’s charm: the festival has not been over publicized or over engineered. It’s a festival that is really all about the music.
SD: On Sunday, June 28 you will recreate the first concert performed in 1916.
AP: Yes, on June 28 at 4 o’clock we’ll have the Shanghai Quartet with pianist Ran Dank recreating the very first program at the Maverick Concert Hall – one of the great later String Quartet by Joseph Haydn, Max Bruch’s lament for cello and piano Kol Nidrei, and after the intermission the evergreen Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann. A great program that will take us back to the very first summer at Maverick.
SD: The festival includes folk and jazz in addition to classical music performances, and there are also poetry and acting moments as well.
AP: Yes, this will be a glorious season. On Friday, July 3 the great pianist Simone Dinnerstein will be playing the complete Goldberg Variations by Bach, a work that she has literally performed all over the world. Saturday night, the 4th of July, we have a brilliant young pianist Adam Tendler who will play the complete Sonatas and Interludes for Solo Piano by John Cage to celebrate Maverick’s historic connection with John Cage: as you know, Cage premiered his landmark work 4’33” of silence at Maverick in 1952. It will be a great season.
Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, Otsego County, is hosting an Iroquois Cultural Festival Saturday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum’s new Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater, located near the shores of the Otsego Lake, will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday. Otsego: A Meeting Place Iroquois Sites are located nearby. Native American music, dance and storytelling performances will be held at the amphitheater between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Traditional Iroquois activities such as playing lacrosse and building canoes will take place throughout the day. Native American arts and crafts as well as traditional Iroquois cuisine will be available. For more information, visit http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/icf.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, Ulster County, is hosting an exhibition Lighthouses of the Hudson, celebrating the museum’s 35th anniversary. This year also marks the centennial of the Rondout Light, which was built in 1915. Thirteen lighthouses are part of this exhibition, seven of whom are still standing. A fascinating history surrounds this place as for many years Hudson River was the main route connecting New York City and Albany. A photo collage included in this exhibition speaks about the restoration process at the Saugerties, Hudson-Athens, Rondout, and the Esopus-Meadows Lighthouses. The museum is open daily from May to October, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.hrmm.org/news/lighthouses-of-the-hudson-2015-exhibit-opens.
The Woodstock – New Paltz Arts & Crafts Fair
On May 23 – 25, over two hundred artists and artisans will showcase a variety of works in all media and styles at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz. Fiber, glass, metal, leather, jewelry, mixed media, fine art and photography, as well as other handcrafted products will be on view over the span of three days. Since 1982 the Woodstock – New Paltz Arts & Crafts Fair has become an attraction for visitors from all over the world. The fair takes place over the Memorial Day weekend in May, as well as Labor Day in late summer. For more information, visit http://quailhollow.com.
Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild
The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is hosting a trail hike Spring Wild Flowers Saturday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Hikers will meet at the Byrdcliffe Theater, and will then be accompanied by a hiking guide. The hike, connecting Byrdcliffe with Mt. Guardian Trail, offers a panoramic view of the Woodstock’s backwoods, an unforgettable experience this time of year. For more information, visit http://www.woodstockguild.org.
Still in Woodstock, Bearsville Theater is hosting a Bob Dylan Birthday celebratory concert Sunday, May 24 at 8 p.m. The legendary folk musician was born on May 24, 1941 in Minnesota, and lived in Woodstock in the late 1960s – early 1970s. This year a group of Hudson Valley musicians will celebrate Dylan’s birthday at the Bearsville Theater, and will perform some of his best known songs. The event is sponsored by WDST Radio Woodstock. For more information, visit http://bearsvilletheater.com.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site & Olana State Historic Site
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County, in partnership with Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, Columbia County, are co-hosting River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, a show that will remain on view through November this year. The exhibition, featuring twenty-eight contemporary artists inspired by the works of Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church, is the first major collaboration between the two institutions, and the first event since the 19th century when contemporary artists are invited to present their works in these settings. Artists such as Chuck Close, Martin Puryear, Lynn Davis, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Maya Lin, Stephen Hannock, and Jerry Gretzinger are among those featured in this show. For more information, visit http://www.rivercrossings.org/.
Hudson Opera House
Hudson Opera House in Hudson, Columbia County, is hosting a classical music concert Saturday, May 23 at 7 p.m. featuring Grammy nominated artists Shmuel Ashkenasi (violin) and Peter Wiley (cello), who will be joined by Helena Baille (violin). The trio will perform Schubert’s B Flat Trio, Mozart’s Adagio and Fugues K. 404, as well as Mozart’s Divertimento K. 563. For more information, visit http://hudsonoperahouse.org/2013/11/02/string-trios-saturday-may-23-at-7-pm/.
Roxbury Arts Center
Roxbury Arts Center in Roxbury, Delaware County, is hosting a salsa concert performed by Orquesta SCC, Saturday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. Based in New York City, Orquesta SCC (which stands for Salsa Con Conciencia – Salsa Music with Conscience) is an 11-piece band founded in 2013 by composer Jose Vazquez-Cofresi. A free dance class will be held before the performance at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://roxburyartsgroup.org/2014/08/07/may-23-orquesta-scc/.
Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, Delaware County, is hosting an opening reception Saturday, May 23 at 3 p.m. featuring artist Margaret Leveson. Founding member of the Blue Mountain Gallery in Manhattan and the Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, Leveson is primarily a plein air painter, captivated by the Catskill Mountains scenery. Her paintings look a bit impressionistic: the artist likes to apply color in oil sticks over the canvass or linen that is available. A new project is completed within hours, although sometimes it takes months to complete more complex artworks. Leveson studied at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts, and later earned an MFA from Brooklyn College. She’s lived in the Catskills since 1977. For more information, visit http://www.longyeargallery.org.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, Sullivan County, is hosting Mysteryland Festival Friday through Monday, May 22 – 25. Mysteryland is the longest running electronic music, culture and arts festival in the world, launched in 1993. Camping options are available on site. For more information, visit http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/events/detail/mysteryland-usa.
May Day, Park Day, Independent Bookstore Day, Kentucky Derby, and superb weather this weekend – many reasons to celebrate.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site & Olana State Historic Site
Thomas Cole National Historic Site in partnership with Olana State Historic Site are co-hosting River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home, an exhibition that opens this Sunday, May 3 at both sites. The exhibition, featuring twenty-eight contemporary artists inspired by the works of Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church, is the first major collaboration between the two institutions, and the first event since the 19th century when contemporary artists are invited to present their works in these settings. Artists such as Chuck Close, Martin Puryear, Lynn Davis, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Maya Lin, Stephen Hannock, and Jerry Gretzinger are among those featured in this show. For more information, visit http://www.rivercrossings.org/.
Hudson Opera House in Hudson, Columbia County, is hosting a classical music concert this Sunday, May 3 at 3 p.m. Mozart and Friends: Musical Wonderland featuring world class musicians from the Preparatory Division of The Bard College Conservatory of Music: soprano Amy Palomo, clarinetist Nicholas Lewis, and pianist Renana Gutman. Talented young musicians will also perform under the tutelage of these accomplished artists, and will be exposed to performing in a professional setting. This is a free concert for the entire family. For more information, visit http://hudsonoperahouse.org/2013/11/30/bard-preparatory-division-family-concert-sunday-may-3-at-3pm/.
Writers in the Mountains
Writers in the Mountains (WIM) presents Writing Fiction Today – Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Real Distinction or No Difference at All? Sunday, May 3 at 1 p.m. at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, Ulster County. The event is co-sponsored by Glaring Omissions Writing Group, one of the longest-running critique groups in the Hudson Valley. Moderator Jenny Milchman will lead a conversation with panelists Elizabeth Brundage, Alison Gaylin, and Peter Golden as they question the foundation that lies beneath bookstore shelving, library categorization, and the ways we define words on a page. For more information, visit http://writersinthemountains.org/.
Bardavon Theatre in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, is hosting a classical music concert this Saturday, May 2 at 8 p.m. featuring the Hudson Valley Philharmonic conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer. The orchestra will perform Brahms’ Requiem and Haydn’s Symphony No. 44. Over one hundred and fifty instrumentalists and singers will perform, including the Vassar Choir and Cappella Festiva directed by Christine Howlett. Fleischer will deliver a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. For more information, visit https://bardavon.org/event_info.php?id=736&venue=bardavon.
Bannerman Castle, located on Pollepel Island, in the proximity of Fishkill, Dutchess County, is an architectural gem built in 1901 by businessman Francis Bannerman. Bannerman designed the building himself. While the castle is currently under renovation, the island is open to the public by guided tours only. To embark on a tour, visitors meet at the Beacon Institute Dock. The first tour of the season will take place this Saturday, May 2 at 11 a.m. The tour is two and a half hour long. For more information, visit http://www.bannermancastle.org.
Also, Vassar College is open for campus tours this Saturday, May 2 at 1 p.m. Lyle Lovett will perform at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston Sunday, May 3 at 7 p.m. Bard College Conservatory Orchestra is having the last concert of the season Saturday, May 2 at 8 p.m.
This weekend in the Catskills: an exhibit from The Met, a letterpress printing workshop, a Pulitzer Prize winning play, and more.
Fenimore Art Museum
What could Mozart, Fenimore Cooper, and Marc Chagall have in common? The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, Otsego County, re-opened for the season this Wednesday, April 1 with an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s Magic Flute: Highlights from the Metropolitan Opera, displaying artifacts from the Met’s 1967 production of the Magic Flute. Cubist painter Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) designed the costumes for that production, as well as the visuals for publicity, and other objects. The exhibit at the Fenimore, which runs through December 2015, includes six costumes and four masks from the production, as well as photographs and artifacts, all on loan from the Met. For more information about this exhibit, visit http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/chagall.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, Sullivan County, is opening for the season this Saturday, April 4 with an exhibit Peace, Love, Unity, Respect curated by Daphne Carr. The exhibit focuses on the history, aesthetics and communities that gave rise to electronic dance music in America. For more information, visit http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/events/detail/edm.
Shandaken Theatrical Society
Shandaken Theatrical Society (STS) presents Proof, a play about love, science, and the mysteries of both, opening night Friday, April 3 at 8 p.m. The play, written by David Auburn in 2000, won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a Tony Award for Best Play. Wallace Norman, who is the Producing Artistic Director of the Woodstock Fringe Festival, directs the performance. For more information, visit http://www.stsplayhouse.com/plays.html.
Phoenicia Wesleyan Church
Phoenicia Wesleyan Church is hosting an Easter Concert this Sunday, April 5 at 3:30 p.m. The Phoenicia Community Choir and the Woodstock Community Chorale along with soloists Alexandra Bailey, Tess Brewer, and Nancy Mastrocola will perform music by Fauré, Vivaldi, Bizet, and Puccini. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/452058971613084/.
This weekend in the Catskills and surrounding area: a Mozart concert, art opening receptions, a comedy performance, and a centerpiece design workshop are among my top choices.
Hudson Valley Philharmonic
Hudson Valley Philharmonic will perform an all-Mozart program this Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County. The program, conducted by Leif Bjaland, includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, and Piano Concerto No. 23, among other masterpieces. The Bardavon Theater is located in a historic building designed in 1869, the oldest continuous theater in New York State. Mark Twain and other luminaries performed on its stage. In 1977 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been the home of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic since the 1970s. The Hudson Valley Philharmonic was founded in 1932, and performs numerous concerts throughout the area. For more information about this concert, go to http://www.bardavon.org/event_info.php?id=734&venue=bardavon.
Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, Delaware County, is hosting an opening reception Springing Forward, this Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m. Springing Forward is a group show featuring about two dozen artists affiliated with the gallery. Works in all media – oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media, collage, ceramics, and photography – will be on display. Participating artists include Margaret Leveson, Helene Manzo, Ann Lee Fuller, Ellen Wong, Elaine Mayes, and others. For more information, visit http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Spring-Forward–group-show.html?soid=1102247844716&aid=qVA4TgOMKA8.
The Open Eye Theater
Still in Margaretville, The Open Eye Theater is hosting a comedy performance Make ‘Em Laugh Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. Make ‘Em Laugh, a fundraiser for the theater, will put in the spotlight some of the best known local actors and friends like John Bernhardt and Jill Ribich. For more information about this performance, visit http://www.theopeneyetheater.org/current-season.html.
Albany Institute of History and Art
Albany Institute of History and Art is hosting an opening reception Walter Launt Palmer: Painting the Moment Saturday, March 28, an exhibit that will remain on view through August 16. Palmer was born in Albany in 1854. He was influenced by the Hudson River School of Painting, and at one point shared a studio with Frederic Church. The Albany Institute of History and Art holds one of the largest collections of Palmer’s oils and watercolors. The exhibit Painting the Moment is a broad overview of his work, and includes paintings from his travels to Europe, building interiors in Albany, and winter scenes. For more information about this exhibit, visit http://www.albanyinstitute.org/walter-launt-palmer-painting-the-moment.html.
Olana mansion in Hudson, Columbia County, is hosting a workshop Spring Tablescapes this Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Author and artist Marlene Marshall will walk with the participants on the estate’s grounds, and look for fungi, flora and other forest vegetation that could be used to design aesthetic table centerpieces. Pre-registration is recommended. Olana was the home of Frederic Edwin Church, a leading exponent of the Hudson River School of Painting. For more information, visit http://www.olana.org/calendar/spring-tablescapes/?doing_wp_cron=1427377069.9718999862670898437500.
Stellar programs in the Catskills this weekend: the Woodstock Film Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary, Orphic Gallery is hosting an evening of poetry, Thomas Cole National Historic Site is hosting an art book reception, thirty of the nation’s best plein air painters will be working and exhibiting at Olana, and Bard College Conservatory of Music will perform Mozart’s Requiem, preceded by a panel discussion moderated by Bard’s president Leon Botstein.
The Woodstock Film Festival
Launched in 2000, as an independent film festival in the Catskill Mountains, the Woodstock Film Festival is now considered one of the best events of this nature. Its 15th edition was inaugurated Thursday evening with screenings scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at several locations in and around Woodstock: Bearsville Theater, Woodstock Playhouse, Kleinert James Art Center, Mountain View Studio, and Upstate Films in Woodstock and Rhinebeck, as well as Orpheum Theater in Saugerties, and Rosendale Theater in Rosendale. To view full schedule click here. Saturday, October 18 at 7 pm there will be a cocktail party at Backstage Studio Productions in Kingston, followed by the 15th Maverick Awards Ceremony at 9 pm. The ceremony will be co-presented by Academy-Award winning actresses Natalie Portman and Jennifer Connelly. For more information, go to http://www.woodstockfilmfestival.com
Orphic Gallery in Roxbury, Delaware County presents an evening of poetry tonight at 7 pm called “Orphic Verses.” From Orphic Gallery: “In ancient Greek mythology Orpheus was the son of Oeagrus, the king of Thrace, and Kalliope, the muse of epic poetry. He was born and lived in Pimpleia near Mount Olympus, and he met Apollo when the god was courting Thalia, the muse of comedy. Apollo presented the young Orpheus with a golden lyre and instructed him how to play the instrument while his mother imparted to him to create verses. So expertly did Orpheus learn to sing and play the lyre that he became the most famous poet and musician in all of Greece. With his poetry Orpheus was able to inspire the rocks of the mountains and the trees of the forest to dance, and to enchant all the animals of the sea, the air and the land, and even to change the flow of rivers and streams.”
Orphic Verses features the works of local poets Rebecca Andre, Esther De Jong, Sharon Israel, Dave Kearney, and Gary Mead. The poets will read and engage in a spirited dialogue with the audience discussing their works and the poetic process. For more information, go to http://orphicgallery.com/.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site
On Sunday, October 19 at 2 pm Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County will host “Arcadia on the Hudson,” a lecture and book signing event with Dr. Aaron Sachs, author of “Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition,” published in 2013, and a professor of History and American Studies at Cornell University. The event will take place at Temple Israel next to Thomas Cole Historic Site on Spring Street. For more information, go to http://www.thomascole.org/current-events.
Olana State Historic Site
Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, Greene County is hosting its third annual plein air event “Creating Landscapes within the Landscape,” as part of the Hudson Arts Walk festival. This weekend thirty of the nation’s best plein air painters work on Olana’s 250-acre landscape that includes an orchard, a farm, a man-made lake, and views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. All the artworks produced over the weekend will be auctioned at the Wagon House Education Center at Olana on Saturday, October 18 from 4 to 6 pm. For more information, go to http://olana.org/.
Bard College Conservatory of Music is hosting a special event this evening at 6:30 pm: “Remembering the Genocide of European Roma during World War II.” The Conservatory will perform Mozart’s Requiem conducted by Hungarian conductor Adam Fischer. A panel discussion moderated by Bard’s president Leon Botstein will precede the performance – the panel discussion begins at 4 pm. The event will take place at the Sosnoff Theater at Fisher Center. Admission is free. For more information, go to http://fishercenter.bard.edu/calendar/event.php?eid=126894.