Caramoor is Set to Return, Tweaking Favorites Along the Way

Wynton Marsalis is back. So is dance. And fireworks.

When Caramoor holds its 79th summer season (June 9 through Aug. 16), it will do so with twists on some favorite offerings – bridging the past and the present in the tradition of the Katonah-based arts center.

Trumpeter-composer Marsalis, who moves seamlessly from classical music to jazz, along with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, will once again open the season, on June 22, but this time the performers will also be honored for their 10-year collaboration with Caramoor, says Edward J. Lewis III, Caramoor’s president and CEO. For him, and for other music lovers, the performance is sure to evoke memories of the 2021 Caramoor gala, when Marsalis and the orchestra served up a sultry Juneteenth tribute to Duke Ellington in an intimate cabaret setting.

But Lewis is also excited about the return of dance to Caramoor, which has not graced its Mediterranean-style setting since members of the New York City Ballet appeared there in 2003. (Damian Woetzel – then a NYCB principal dancer, now president of Juilliard – moving organically through Jerome Robbins’ virtuosic solo “A Suite of Dances,” set to J.S. Bach’s “Six Suites for Cello,” remains of vivid memory to many Caramoor enthusiasts.)

This time, it’s Baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants with a new production of Henry Purcell’s 1692 opera “The Fairy Queen,” which will be flavored with street dance by French-Algerian choreographer Mourad Merzouki (July 20).

“Merzouki is known for fusing the classical with the contemporary in music, and I love that,” Lewis says, “making the old new, and the new seem as if it’s always been around.”

Few choreographers have been more acclaimed for doing just that than Mark Morris, whose Dance Group will present an evening of works on Aug. 1 set to piano and violin music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Igor Stravinsky and Samuel Barber, performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble.

Such programming has enabled Caramoor to expand its audiences to include those who haven’t always heard themselves in Western classical music. This is the hallmark of the summer festival after Walter T. and Lucie Bigelow Dodge Rosen bequeathed their estate as an arts center in 1945 in memory of their son Walter, who died in World War II. But Caramoor is no longer just about the Bachs and Stravinskys, Lewis says. It’s about composers like Quenton Zavier Blache, Javier Favias, Andrea Casarrubios, Adolpus Hailstork, Jessie Montgomery and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, all of whom will get a hearing when Sphinx Virtuosi performs July 7.

The self-conducted string orchestra of Black and Latinx players – which serves as the flagship performing entity of the Sphinx Organization, a leading social justice nonprofit dedicated to diversity in the arts – may be making its Caramoor debut, but it has strong ties to the arts center. Lewis, who began his musical career as a violist, is a Sphinx alumnus. He was on hand when Sphinx member Sterling Elliott, a cellist who participated in Caramoor’s 2023 Evnin Rising Stars program, received one of Sphinx’s Medals of Excellence at an event hosted at the U.S. Supreme Court by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Along with the new is the familiar, which means that fireworks are back for “Pops, Patriots & Fireworks” in a concert that is actually on Fourth of July.

Two superstars of Broadway and country respectively – Sutton Foster (July 13) and Rhiannon Giddens (Aug. 3) return, as does the new “Recitals in the Music Room” chamber series. The Music Room will also host a special Pride concert on June 13 in collaboration with The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center in White Plains, featuring Juilliard-trained tenor and drag artist Jasmine Rice LaBeija.

Also in the mix – the Soundscapes and Sonic Installations sound art exhibition, afternoon teas, children’s concerts and the all-day American Roots and Jazz Festivals. They give truth to what Lewis calls Caramoor’s continuing mission – to be “your artistic summer sanctuary.”

For more, visit caramoor.org.

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