- Saratoga Performing Arts Center
name = Saratoga Performing Arts Center
nickname = "SPAC"
Saratoga Springs, New York
type = Outdoor
seating_type = reserved, lawn
seating_capacity = 25,100The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is an
amphitheaterin Saratoga Springs, New York, which presents summer festivals of all kinds of music (including classical concerts, jazz, and popular), dance, and opera, as well as a Wine & Food Festival. SPPAC also serves as the common grounds for high school graduations, particularly for Saratoga Springs City High School and Ballston Spa High School. It opened on July 9, 1966, with a presentation of Balanchine's " A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the New York City Ballet.coord|43.0553|N|73.8058|W|type:landmark|display=title
In early February 1961, Albany newspaperman Duane La Fleche noted a wire service report about a group hoping to entice the
New York Philharmonicto make Stowe, Vermontits summer residence. La Fleche proposed that the group stay in New York State and perform in Saratoga Springs. Local civic, cultural, and legislative leaders, who had previously considered a Saratoga Arts Center an interesting possibility, began to design the facility. Within a week, they held their first meeting; within a month they were focusing on Saratoga Spa State Parkas the site, had won the support of State Conservation Commissioner Harold Wilm, and begun discussions with both the New York Philharmonicand New York CityBallet.
By summer 1963, generous contributions from Rockefeller Brothers Fund and New York State supplemented community support to create Saratoga Performing Arts Center. In June 1964,
Governor Nelson A. Rockefellermounted a bulldozer to break the first yard of ground. More than 410 workdays followed: 300 workers clocked 136,000 hours to complete the 5,100-seat, 10-story amphitheatre (original layout of the venue did not include a festival lawn; the lawn, which holds 20,000, was added later).
Past presidents of SPAC include Margaretta "Happy" Rockefeller and
Lillian Bostwick Phipps.
Present day performances
Today, SPAC hosts the New York City Ballet and the
Philadelphia Orchestraevery summer. This season, some of the world's finest classical music soloists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Yuja Wang, [Geraldine Freeman, "Yuja Wang, 21, SPAC's new pianist star, is a sensation", " Schectady Gazette", August 23, 2008, p. D4.] [Geraldine Freedman, "Pianist Wang enjoys unpredictable schedule", August 14, 2008, found at [http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2008/aug/14/0814_Wang/ dailygazette website] ] and Sarah Chang, are performing major concertos at this venue. The "Philly"'s most well-attended performance is its annual "Tchaikovsky Spectacular", which includes the 1812 Overture and one or two well-known concertos.
A feature of each summer is the Freihofer Jazz Festival, co-produced with George Wein, which presents major and emerging jazz artists on two stages. Also, the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, under the direction of Canadian violinist,
Chantal Juillet, presents programs in the Spa Little Theatre. In 2006, the Composer-In-Residence was Bright Sheng. Opera performances are given by the Lake George Operain the Spa Little Theatre. The Martha Graham Dance Companyperformed at SPAC during its 2008 residency at Skidmore College.
SPAC is also a venue for popular music concerts, like
John Mayer, Tom Petty, Rush, Dave Matthews Bandand others, which are booked exclusively by Live Nation, a leading concert promotion company.
For at least two decades, SPAC has played host to the School of Orchestral Studies (SOS) for the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) program. Under the baton of artistic director Russell Stanger and overseen by administrator Dr. Edward Marschilok, and accompanied by string orchestra conductors Patricia Koppeis and Philip Preddice as well as wind ensemble conductor Conrad Kuchay, the approximately 115 high school age students of NYSSSA's SOS attend concert performances during their summer weeks as part of an intensive study of music performance, study with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and ultimately give a culminating performance in the amphitheater.
SPAC is headed by
Marcia White, who replaced president Herb Chesborough in 2005. Over 200 seasonal employees keep the venue running smoothly over the summer.SPAC's largest performance in its history was by the Grateful Dead in 1985, where a total of 40,231 fans showed up to see the band. Since the show, SPAC limits its capacity to 25,100.
* [http://www.spac.org/ SPAC website]
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