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Music, Music, Music

Photo of artist Trimpin’s sculpture, in ”C” (photo credit: Gabe Palacio)

Fans of Caramoor Center for Music in the Arts will once again be able to indulge in a full season of live, in-person musical performances this summer amidst the estate’s lush gardens, stately trees and chirping crickets. Its seven-week season will run from June 19 through August 8, followed by two post-season concerts series from August 13 through September 12.

As New York begins to reopen, Caramoor’s Artistic Director Kathy Schuman says she’s grateful that their outdoor venues enable them to present a 35-concert season: “Despite some operational differences, this year’s program remains as robust and varied as ever. I think we’ve all deeply missed the kind of magical experience that comes from sharing live music in the company of others.”

Edward J. Lewis III, Caramoor’s new President and CEO, says he’s thrilled to have joined just as the return to in-person concerts is set to begin. “Tickets are selling well, telling us not only that audiences are ready to come back, but also just how much they value their Caramoor experience,” he says.

The 2021 summer season in Katonah has been designed to meet the latest New York State guidelines related to the pandemic. All shows will run between 60 and 90 minutes without intermission and, as in prior seasons, will take place in the open-air Venetian Theater and other outdoor venues on the estate, now with reduced capacity.

But that’s not all that’s new at Caramoor. In addition to concerts, the grounds will be open and free to the public Fridays through Sundays from June 11 through October 10. Visitors can discover site-specific installations, part of an annual exhibition of sound art called Sonic Innovations, from Friday to Sunday. This year’s centerpiece is MacArthur Fellow Trimpin’s in”C,” a 16-foot sound sculpture with two octaves of chimes. In addition to a composition by Trimpin, the sculpture will play short pieces by other composers. Other Sonic Innovations artists include Taylor Deupree; Annea Lockwood and Bob Bielecki; Ranjit Bhatnagar; Miya Masaoka; and Spencer Topel and Hana Kassem. 

The grounds and buildings at Caramoor may appear traditional, but its programming runs to the adventurous. This year, audiences will enjoy the world premieres of a new Caramoor-commissioned work by composer Saad Haddad and beatboxer and vocal percussionist Shodekeh, and a new piece by flutist and composer Valerie Coleman. Also on the roster are U.S. premieres by composer, violinist and vocalist Natalie Dietterich; sound artist, visual artist and composer Kate Moore; and composer Hilary Purrington.

PUBLIQuartet (photo courtesy of Caramoor/Lelaine Foster)

Then, there are also more traditional offerings. Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra kick off the season at an opening night gala on June 19. Other major events include a recital by pianist Richard Goode on June 25, a 91st birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim on July 10 and a concert by The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Caramoor’s orchestra-in-residence for the past 42 summers, on June 27. Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne will make her Caramoor debut on July 17.

In addition to attending concerts, visitors can wander Caramoor’s 80 acres to explore its newly renovated, landscaped Italianate and woodland gardens, attend a “Concert on the Lawn” from the new bandshell on Friends Field and commune with nature and architecture on socially distanced walks and picnics. Also new this year is “Garden Listening,” wherein all of the concerts taking place in the Venetian Theater will be broadcast onto the grounds to be heard from anywhere on Caramoor’s campus.

 For those who don’t mind some movement during their musical experiences, Donald Nally, conductor of choral group The Crossing, has created “The Forest.” On July 3, the group’s performers will stand 30 feet apart on Caramoor’s wooded grounds as audience members stroll a preconceived path at socially distanced intervals. “The Forest”’s libretto is based on the singers’ own reactions to pandemic lockdown.

Audience members will also be encouraged to move around during Alarm Will Sound’s free performance of John Luther Adams’s work Ten Thousand Birds on July 11. Adams customizes his composition to reflect the different types of birdsongs that are heard at the locations where the piece is performed. 

A version of this article first appeared in the June issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.