Golden Dragon Acrobats, a Chinese troupe with a show similar to Cirque du Soleil, closes the Strings season.

Asian Artist Productions/Courtesy

Golden Dragon Acrobats, a Chinese troupe with a show similar to Cirque du Soleil, closes the Strings season.

With a new venue, summer festival announces season


If you go

What: Strings Music Festival 2008 season tickets

When: Discount season passes for the classical and different tempo series must be purchased by May 15; non-subscription tickets go on sale May 19

Where: Strings Music Pavilion

Cost: Discount series subscriptions start at $277; visit www.stringsmusicf... for pricing information

Call: 879-5056, ext. 105, for the Strings box office or to request a subscription brochure

Season highlights, classical series:

- Saturday, June 28 (season opener): "Two Pianos, Eight Hands," with Alpin Hong, Cary Lewis, Erika Nickrenz and Jade Simmons. Crossover playing from the piano world's varied stars.

- Saturday, July 12: "An Evening with the Takács Quartet." Beethoven and Schubert from one of the nation's premier string quartets.

- Monday, July 28: "New Frontiers of Modern Music: The Sonic Universe of George Crumb." Modern music whiz George Crumb chronicles the evolution of the American sound from the inside of a piano.

- Saturday, Aug. 2: "Classics to Crossover," with a Strings world premiere commission by Mike Garson. A classical composition for a jazz combo, written by the man who's backed David Bowie on the keys since the 1970s.

- Saturday, Aug. 9: "Beethoven! Classical Finale." Strings takes advantage of the new pavilion by staging a 46-member orchestra - about twice the size of anything it's had before.

Season highlights, different tempo series:

- Sunday, June 29: Richie Havens. A folk music mainstay.

- Friday, July 18: Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. Backed by a full Celtic band, fiddler MacMaster returns to Strings for the first time since 2000.

- Friday, Aug. 8: "Jazz Meets Classical in Uncommon Standards," with Nnenna Freelon, Harolyn Blackwell and Mike Garson. Jazz classics reinterpreted for the classical format.

- Tuesday, Aug. 19: The Avett Brothers. An emerging gem in new American music, The Avett Brothers will break your heart and make you smile.

- Friday, Aug. 22: Golden Dragon Acrobats. Think Cirque du Soleil.

— To introduce music enthusiasts to its new venue, Strings Music Festival won't be doing a soft opening.

There won't be any wine and cheese with light Mozart airs floating in the background, no half-hearted way to find out how the Strings Pavilion, which is expected to be done just before the festival's 2008 season opens, is going to sound.

Instead, Strings finds a new home with a grand piano fanfare, opening the summer with a program called "Two Pianos, Eight Hands: A Keyboard Extravaganza."

"Classically, to open with that, it's something very different and they're just some of the top pianists in the country," said Betse Grassby, the series' operations and nonclassical programming director. The program showcases piano talents Alpin Hong, Cary Lewis, Erika Nickrenz and Jade Simmons.

With a larger, better-outfitted venue, Strings has the chance to explore performance options, Grassby said. That includes a classical finale with a 46-member orchestra - twice the size of what the festival has hosted before - and the world premiere of a Strings commission that mixes classical forms with jazz performers.

"They've commissioned pieces before, but not anything this big," Grassby said of Mike Garson's piece, "Lullaby for Our Daughters." Garson has played with Strings several times and has spent the past three decades backing David Bowie on keyboards. His commission stars jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, along with a quartet of classical and jazz musicians.

"It'll be about a 13-minute piece. It is classical in its composition, but it will have vocal, spoken word, jazz overtones : It really represents what we're all about," Grassby said.

During the day throughout the summer, Strings presents a family-friendly series, with performances by Trout Fishing in America, Dream Jam Band and Pan Africa.

For the festival's different tempo series, programming keeps to Americana music, with performances by Richie Havens, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Natalie MacMaster, Jesse Cook, Asleep at the Wheel and The Avett Brothers.

"The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are oldies but goodies," Julie Taulman, director of marketing and public relations, said of the series. "And Richie Havens - for people who remember Woodstock, Richie Havens is a legendary sound."

The series closes with a performance by Golden Dragon Acrobats, a Chinese troupe similar in performance style to Cirque du Soleil.

"We've never had a stage - we've never had a ceiling high enough," Grassby said of booking the high-flying Golden Dragon. The larger setup also allows for booking full bands with MacMaster and Cook.

"It's really a summer where we'll be exploring, 'How do we expand?'" Grassby said.


424now 9 years ago

Richie Havens

Freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom.

I can't wait!


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