Looking for some warm-weather entertainment? Take your pick from among our region’s lineup of 21 seasonal festivals, music series, fairs, and other events. It may be hard to choose, however, between theater productions (Shakespeare? Powerhouse? Shadowland?), concerts (Bethel Woods? SPAC? Maverick?), annual fests (Clearwater? Mountain Jam? SummerScape?), and old-fashioned county fairs. One thing is for sure, though: Here in the Valley, you’re guaranteed to find fun in the summer sun.
» First fest: Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham (May 24-Sept. 16)
Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham NY
(May 24-Sept. 16)
The Mac-Haydn — Columbia County’s oldest theater — offers professional performances of well-loved musicals in an intimate, theater-in-the-round setting. A particularly fun and varied season kicks off with the Broadway hit Nunsense (May 24-June 3); followed by productions of Oliver! (June 7-17); Brigadoon (June 21-July 1); a live, onstage version of the hit movie Legally Blonde (July 5-22); the Cole Porter favorite Kiss Me Kate (July 26-Aug. 5); Barry Manilow’s Copacabana (Aug. 9-19); Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair (Aug. 23-Sept. 2); and a special Mac-Haydn Theater II production of Smokey Joe’s Café by the venue’s own professional company (Sept. 7-16). $28-$30, $12 children. 518-392-9292 or www.machaydntheatre.org
» Next fest: Mountain Jam, Hunter Mountain (May 31-June 3)
Singer-songwriter Simone Felice performs at Mountain Jam this year
Photograph by John Huba
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Mountain Jam, Hunter NY
(May 31-June 3)
The Valley’s homegrown music festival just keeps getting bigger and better. The four-day, multistage event features more than 50 big-name and local acts; was nominated for a Pollstar Music Festival of the Year Award last year; and has been named one of Rolling Stone’s “Best Fests” three years in a row. Highlights for 2012 include performances by Steve Winwood, Gov’t Mule, Michael Franti and Spearhead, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Roots, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Dawes, electronic jam band Lotus, and Anders Osborne, among others. New this year: late-night DJ sets from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy; and expanded VIP options, which includes the “Tavern in the Woods” with private bar and Hammock Grove, shaded hospitality tents, and private camping or on-site lodging. $160; $190 with camping; 888-512-7469 or www.mountainjam.com
» See our exclusive photo gallery from Mountain Jam below
Mountain Jam artist spotlight: Simone Felice
Simone Felice is, according to musicOMH, “arguably the nearest thing Americana currently has to a renaissance man.” It’s an apt branding: Felice is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, a founding member of critically acclaimed acts the Felice Brothers and The Duke & the King, and a published poet and novelist.
The Palenville native is also a “miracle boy,” dubbed so by nurses at Benedictine Hospital after he suffered a massive brain aneurysm and flat-lined for several minutes when he was 12 years old. Twenty years later he’d cheat death again, undergoing emergency open-heart surgery in 2010 to replace his aortic valve, which had calcified almost completely shut due to a childhood congenital defect.
Since then, Felice’s life has undergone a 180-degree turnaround. A month after the heart surgery, he and wife Jessica welcomed their first child, daughter Pearl Simone. In April, Felice celebrated the publication of his third novel, Black Jesus and the release of his self-titled album, his first solo effort. This summer he will tour on the East Coast after performing at Mountain Jam (May 31-June 3).
You still live in Palenville. Did you always know that you were going to stay here?
I always used to think that when I grew up, when my ship came in, I’d get out and run away. Now that I travel all around the world, whenever I come home from the airport on the Thruway and the mountains start to rise around New Paltz I know I’m home, and that my beautiful daughter awaits and my wife and my mom and my best friends and all these memories are here. I feel lucky that I have roots.
Your work seems so unmistakably moored in the Hudson Valley. Would you say that’s true?
When I was a kid, I was lonely. I’d go to the library a lot; it’s all we had around here. I feel blessed that I grew up in a time before the iPad, because I got to really commune with books — John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Flannery O’Connor. It was a way to fight loneliness. It was a way to be Huckleberry Finn up here, but with a boom box. Since then, I’ve just needed to populate my world with other people, characters, so that I wouldn’t feel so lonely.
A lot of the things that inspired this new album and Black Jesus are stories I heard when I was a kid that have haunted me for years. Like “Hey Bobby Ray,” the first song on the album: it’s about an Indian girl taken from the reservation, and they find her dead in the cornfields. Right after my open-heart surgery I was on heavy doses of morphine, and all theses visions and memories came back from when I was a kid, like waking nightmares. For better or for worse, this Valley and its contours and its beauty and wretchedness are branded into my heart and mind.
You include the Catskill High School choir on the song “Hey Bobby Ray.” How did that come about?
I wanted to have a “haunted” choir with a multitude of female voices singing about retribution and redemption. No better choir than that from the ragtag high school that I went to. Luckily they were so great. It gave me chills: 40 girls singing “Hey Bobby Ray, you’ll get what’s coming boy, you’ll get your day.”
Was the new album a real local effort?
Yes. Pete Caigan, [a Woodstock sound mixer] mixed, and Jeremy Backofen, “the sixth Felice Brother,” produced a few tracks. My brothers all sang on a few tracks, and my friend Ben Lovett from Mumford & Sons produced two songs, one here in my barn. The album was recorded in several different places, including the Felice Brothers’ recording studio in the old Beacon high school. I mastered the recordings with Greg Calbi. He’s like Yoda, one of the top three luminaries of that field. When I was a kid he was on the back of all my favorite records like Born to Run and Patti Smith and John Lennon’s last record. It was an honor to work with him.
Tell me about the new novel.
Black Jesus is about a boy who is blinded by a roadside bomb overseas, and then the most unexpected love turns up in his town on a moped. I started writing it in 2005. It was inspired by a friend who fought in Iraq, who came home wounded, but with the kind of wounds you can’t see. I wanted to write a story about how love can heal the deepest traumas, because I had that experience. If I didn’t have love in my life I don’t think I’d be alive.
How was this different than your first two books, Goodbye Amelia and Hail Mary Full of Holes?
Those first two were underground, real small print runs, no publicity, very grassroots. Black Jesus is my first official international release. It feels good that it’s out there in the world.
Is it different playing your music away from home?
At home I have to try not to curse, ’cause usually my grandma’s there [laughs]. For some reason the people that gravitate towards my music are very lovely people, I feel nurtured and loved wherever I go. I recently went to Australia for the first time and it felt like a hometown show. I just played New York City the other night and usually that’s a very stressful sort of thing: Entertainment Weekly is going to be there, and Rolling Stone, and there’s a guest list with these big names. It was the first show in awhile where it felt like we were all just sitting around a fire together. It was a good feeling.
» Next fest: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs (June 1-Sept. 3)
Photograph by Paul Kolnick
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs NY
(June 1-Sept. 3)
The sheer size of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center — a 10-story covered amphitheatre that seats 5,200 people, and a sprawling lawn with room for 20,000 more — is in itself a thing to behold. More to the point, the venue offers a star-studded lineup of music and dance performances throughout the summer. This year, the two-week-long New York City Ballet season is especially noteworthy. The troupe presents 16 ballets, including new works by Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied; Peter Martins’ full-length production of Romeo + Juliet (July 19 & 21); and Balanchine classics including Firebird, Symphony in C, and Barocco/Kammermusik (July 10). The Ballet Gala (July 14) showcases a world premiere by rising choreographer and NYCB dancer Justin Peck.
Other outstanding SPAC offerings include concerts by the Zac Brown Band (June 1), Brad Paisley (June 29), Phish (July 6-8), and Jason Mraz (Sept. 2); the Opera Saratoga series (July 6-15) with productions of Rigoletto, The Mighty Casey, and Trial by Jury/Le 66; August performances by the resident Philadelphia Orchestra with soloists like famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violin virtuoso Joshua Bell; as well as chamber music, cabaret, and the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival (June 30-July 1). $15-$250; 518-587-3330 or www.spac.org
» Next fest: Shadowland Theatre, Ellenville (June 1-Sept. 30)
Shadowland Theatre, Ellenville NY
(June 1-Sept. 30)
“Audiences will see quite a different place this year,” says Shadowland Artistic Director Brendan Burke of Ellenville’s 1920s vaudeville theater, which has been undergoing significant renovations — including new offices, lobby, and façade. “We’re putting an updated, modern feel on the orginal Deco look,” says Burke. “Any of the original we could salvage, we did.” The season kicks off with the political dramedy Farragut North by Beau Willimon (June 1-17), which was adapted by George Clooney for his Oscar-nominated screenplay The Ides of March. Orson Bean, who starred in the theater’s 2009 production of Arthur Miller’s The Price, returns to Shadowland in Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight (July 20-Aug. 5) alongside his wife, Alley Mills, and Paula Prentiss; this is the first Coward play produced at the theater in 20 years.
Actor and Hudson Valley resident Wayne Pyle stars in the comedy Fully Committed by Becky Mode (June 22-July 15), in which he plays all 40 parts himself. The Dangers of Electric Lighting, a new play by Ben Clawson, closes the season; the production is a New York premiere. Shout! The Mod Musical (Aug. 10-Sept. 9) follows a group of women on their road to liberation from 1960-1970. To entice theatergoers, performances on Thursdays and Fridays have a “pay what you can” option, in which ticket prices are decided by the individual guest. $25-$30; 845-647-5511 or www.shadowlandtheatre.org
» Next fest: Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel (June 9-Sept. 22)
Just like ’69: Music fans gather at Bethel Woods, the site of the original Woodstock festival
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel NY
(June 9-Sept. 22)
Woodstock lives on — in a way. Located on the site of the original 1969 music festival, Bethel Woods continues to celebrate the arts with two performance venues — including an outdoor pavilion stage — and a multimedia museum. The 2012 concert season offers something for everyone, from new country stars to groovy, old school rock and roll favorites. The Classical Series showcases performances by Navah Perlman (June 9) and the Parker Quartet (Sept. 22). Other highlights include the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour (June 17); Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band (June 16); Furthur, featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh (July 15); and Brad Paisley with the Band Perry and Scotty McCreery (Aug. 10). Country rocker Jason Aldean also brings “his kinda party” to the Valley on Aug. 26.
At the museum, a pair of exhibits — “A Tale of Two Posters,” a retrospective of the work of David Edward Byrd and Arnold Skolnick (through July 22); and “Across the Great Divide: Photographs by Roberta Price” (Aug. 2-Dec. 31) — will be on view. Kid-friendly events include Family Day (July 8); and Youth Opera Experience, a weeklong performing arts program (July 9-14). Call for ticket information; 866-781-2922 or www.bethelwoodscenter.org
» Next fest: Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Garrison (June 12-Sept. 2)
Photograph by William Marsh
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Garrison NY
(June 12-Sept. 2)
The Valley’s premier professional Shakespeare company performs in a state-of-the-art tent on the grounds of Boscobel, the Federal-era mansion overlooking the picturesque banks of the Hudson. The troupe opens its 2012 season with its non-Shakespeare production, the fast-paced comedy/thriller The 39 Steps (June 21). Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the 1915 novel by John Buchan (which also served as the basis of the eponymous 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie), the play features just four actors playing an astounding 150 roles. It is directed by Drama Desk Award-winner Russell Treyz. Two of the Bard’s classics — the iconic Romeo and Juliet (opening June 23) and the romantic comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost (opening June 30) — run in repertory with The 39 Steps throughout the season. New this year: Monday performances during the month of August. $31-$42, preview shows (June 12-29) $27-$37; 845-265-9575 or www.hvshakespeare.org
» Next fest: Aston Magna Music Festival, Lenox (June 14-July 7)
Aston Magna Music Festival, Lenox MA
(June 14-July 7)
It’s the 40th anniversary season of this annual period-instrument festival (the nation’s oldest), which kicks off with a gala concert at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts (June 9). The concert features past festival highlights, including madrigals by Monteverdi, excerpts from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth, and Bach’s Brandenburgh Concerto No. 1. Artistic director and violinist Daniel Stepner leads a full baroque orchestra, along with sopranos Kristen Watson and Roberta Anderson and tenors Frank Kelley and William Hite.
The season’s schedule includes appearances by soprano Dominique Labelle (“Music of Three Bachs and Villa Lobos,” June 14-16); Aston Magna founding violinist Stanley Ritchie (“Violin Extravaganza,” July 6); and clarinetist Eric Hoeprich (“Gran Partita,” June 21-23), among others. Concerts take place at the Olin Humanities Building at Bard College as well as at locations in western Massachusetts. $15-$50; 413-528-3595 or www.astonmagna.org
» Next fest: Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, Croton-on-Hudson (June 16-17)
Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, Croton-on-Hudson NY
The country’s oldest music and environmental festival has a lineup that “transcends musical boundaries and geographical borders,” according to Director Steve Lurie. The sustainably powered, two-day event at Croton Point Park has always presented big names from the folk world (it was, after all, founded by Pete Seeger); but this year the fest has a larger world-music selection, with international acts such as Tinariwen, Balkan Beat Box, Alsarah and the Nubatones, Bhi Bhiman, and Jose Conde Y Ola Fresca. Also confirmed are Ani DiFranco, Béla Fleck, Dawes, Donna the Buffalo, Martin Sexton, and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (left), to name a few; Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family play special sets in honor of Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday.
In addition to the festival’s mainstay attractions — the Arm of the Sea Theater, the famed sloop Clearwater, hands-on environmental education activities, a Crafts Showcase, and the Green Living Expo among them — families can enjoy the Traveling Musical Petting Zoo and an expanded Artisanal Food and Farm Market with even more Hudson Valley foods and specialty items. $56-$200, under 12 free; 845-236-5596 or www.clearwaterfestival.org
Mountain Jam artist spotlight: Amy Helm (Ollabelle)
Anyone who has had the pleasure of attending one of the late Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles — the intimate jam-style concerts held in his barn on Plochmann Lane in Woodstock — undoubtedly felt they had witnessed something magical. While the rock legend himself was a sight to see, and his musical guests were often legendary themselves, a big treat was watching him perform with his daughter, Amy Helm. The love, pride, and closeness between the two as they sang together was evidence of a musical legacy that transcends simple rock royalty status. Soulful, warm, and unself-conscious, Helm has been a member of her dad’s band for years (she sings and plays several instruments, most often the mandola), and is a founding member of roots-gospel band Ollabelle, which appears at this year’s Clearwater Festival (June 16-17) for the first time.
Born here in the Valley, Helm grew up between Woodstock, Los Angeles, and Manhattan, fairly oblivious to her father’s fame. “As far as I knew, my dad just played the drums in Rick Danko’s band,” she says. Although she sang and made music all her life, she took a few detours on her way to becoming a professional musician, among them studying psychology at a Wisconsin college. It wasn’t until she was in her 20s that she began actively pursuing a music career. In 1998 she joined the Barn Burners, a blues band her dad put together with some musicians from Poughkeepsie. “I crashed that band, much to their chagrin,” she laughs. Helm played with the Barn Burners for about four years, during which time she struggled with the same insecurities faced by any budding performer — with the added pressure of being a famous musician’s kid. “It’s an inevitable part of having a parent in the spotlight. But having played with him for so long in that teacher-student dynamic, that relationship became the focus: What can I learn from him, not just who am I apart from him. He was my most important teacher.”
Shortly after 9/11 Helm started participating in “Sunday School for Sinners,” an informal Sunday night jam session at a Lower East Side bar called 9C. “We all grabbed favorite hymns and songs and dug in there,” she says of herself and fellow musicians Glenn Patscha, Fiona McBain, Jimi Zhivago, Tony Leone, and Byron Isaacs. Eventually the collective’s jams became more structured, and very popular. They called themselves Ollabelle, for traditional country singer Ola Belle Reed. Producer Steve Rosenthal recorded them on spec, and sent the demo to famed producer T-Bone Burnett who ultimately produced the group’s first, self-titled album. “Just like that we were a band with a record deal out of the box,” Helm says. “It took an unexpected trajectory.”
Ollabelle has completed two studio albums since its debut — 2006’s Riverside Battle Songs and last year’s self-produced, self-financed Neon Blue Bird. The band began work on the latter in 2007 at a rented home in Athens, Greene County. The album took four years to complete, the process being delayed by the members’ various side projects, chief among them: babies. Helm, Patscha, and McBain (with Leone) all welcomed their first children within a year. “You don’t take a gig for granted anymore,” Helm confesses. “It’s an incredible feat, an incredible pleasure to leave the house for four hours to make a sound check and work on a song. It has a whole new weight to it when you’ve got little ones waiting for you and a baby-sitter on the clock. It has definitely made me appreciate the luxury of being able to lean into music that way.”
Helm has since welcomed a second son, and lives with her two boys and musician husband Jay Collins (a saxophonist with Gregg Allman and the Levon Helm Band) in Woodstock. The members of Ollabelle continue to tour together, as well as work on independent projects; Helm recently completed her first solo album. And she is still playing and touring as a member of her father’s band. “Now that I have children of my own, I realize in a deeper way how amazing it is to share that music with your parent,” she says. Does she have high hopes that her boys will follow in her family’s musical footsteps? “Well, yeah,” Helm admits. “But if they want to do something else, that’s okay, too.”
This interview was conducted prior to Levon Helm’s death on April 19, 2012. Click here to read about Mr. Helm’s life and legacy
» Next fest: West Point Band’s Music Under the Stars, West Point (June 17-Sept. 3)
Photograph by Ted Spiegel
West Point Band’s Music Under the Stars, West Point NY
(June 17-Sept. 3)
This free Sunday night concert series offers performances by the U.S. Military Academy’s musical groups at the breathtaking Trophy Point Amphitheatre, located on the academy grounds overlooking the Hudson River. Each concert is free and open to the public, and features either the 48-member classical Concert Band or the smaller, ensemble-style Jazz Knights. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.; special events include the “Independence Day Celebration,” complete with fireworks and a cannon salute (July 7); “Christmas in July” (July 29); “Dancing Under the Stars” with dance lessons 30 minutes prior to the start (August 5); and “Beatle’s Legacy” (August 19). Picnics are encouraged. 845-938-2617 or www.usma.edu/band
» Next fest: Old Songs Festival, Altamont (June 22-24)
Old Songs Festival, Altamont NY
Held at the Altamont Fairgrounds, this popular roots, acoustic folk, world, and Celtic music festival is well-known for its unique format: Over the course of two days there are three concerts; dances; and 120 workshops, many of which are participatory. This year’s concert performers include John McCutcheon, Brother Sun, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Nuala Kennedy (Ireland), Kim and Reggie Harris, Sharon Katz and the Peace Train (South Africa), Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps (Quebec), Dennis Stroughmatt (American Creole), Greenfield Dance Band, and John Kirk and Trish Miller, among many others.
In observance of the Civil War sesquicentennial, a special performance entitled “Four Seasons, Four Years — The Civil War: A Musical Journey” (June 22) offers popular songs of the period interspersed with relevant historical narrative. Other event highlights include a musical petting zoo; children’s classes and activities; a family performance stage; and the Diamond Jubilee Organ, an 1897 Parisian fairground organ, the largest of its kind in the Americas. Camping available. $15-$105; 518-765-2815 or www.oldsongs.org
» Next fest: Powerhouse Theater, Poughkeepsie (June 22-July 29)
Powerhouse Theater, Poughkeepsie NY
(June 22-July 29)
A collaboration between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film, Powerhouse Theater presents a unique mixture of live theater works by both established and emerging writers — a number of which end up on Broadway. Highlights of this year’s season include two fully staged Mainstage productions — award-winning playwright and television writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Abigail/1702 (June 27-July 8) and Stephen Belber’s The Power of Duff (July 18-29).
An Emmy-nominated screenwriter (for The Laramie Project), Belber has had two previous plays at Powerhouse: 2007’s Geometry of Fire and 2008’s Fault Lines. Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand (July 20-22) is scheduled to be workshopped as part of the Inside Look program. There will be 10 new works presented during two Readings Festivals (June 22-24 and July 27-29), among them Nathan Englander’s play The Twenty-Seventh Man. Musical workshops showcase Itamar Moses and J. Michael Friedman’s adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel Fortress of Solitude, directed by Daniel Aukin (June 29-July 1); and Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash’s Murder Ballad, directed by Trip Cullman (July 27-29). Call for ticket information; 845-437-5907 or http://powerhouse.vassar.edu
» Next fest: Caramoor International Music Festival, Katonah (June 23-Aug. 8)
Caramoor International Music Festival, Katonah NY
(June 23-Aug. 8)
Though this will be his last year as chief executive and general director of Caramoor’s renowned summer event, Michael Barrett’s enthusiasm for the richly diverse classical, jazz, Latin, and American Roots festival remains. Wagering that audiences will not find the 67th season “anything less than wonderful,” Barrett highlights the expanded American Roots Music Festival (June 30); the American premiere of Rossini’s Ciro in Babilonia (July 7) featuring the return of celebrated contralto Ewa Podles in the title role; and Pablo Heras-Casado’s debut as the new principal conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (July 15). The concerts take place outdoors in the gardens at Caramoor, an early 20th-century, Mediterranean-style villa.
Other season highlights include a performance by Grammy Award-winner Paquito D’Rivera during this year’s Sonidos Latinos program (July 6); a new program, “Gospel According to Caramoor,” with performances by the Harlem Gospel Choir and the Lee Boys (Aug. 5); three-time Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Jazz Festival (July 28); and the all-Gershwin “Pops, Patriots, and Fireworks” concert, directed by Michael Barrett (July 4). $10-$100; 914-232-1252 or www.caramoor.org
» Next fest: Beacon Riverfest, Beacon (June 30)
Beacon Riverfest, Beacon NY
Local 845’s free, one-day mini-fest at Beacon’s Riverfront Park returns for the third year and features a handful of musicians you may not have heard of, but should definitely know. “Beacon has a history of community and folk music,” says festival founder Stephen Clair. “I wanted to make something that fosters music that everyone can be a part of.” This year’s acts include the electrifying 10-piece brass band Brooklyn Qawwali Party; the funked-out Bing Ji Ling; brash Saratoga Springs punk freaks the Figgs; party-pop-rock duo Schwervon!; and Beacon-based surf trio the Octomen. Besides the mainstage acts, a new family tent offers kid-friendly music by the likes of the M Shanghai String Band. Clair says the impetus for it came from “the huge turnout of many different generations over the past two years. It’s nice to give families a place to go nearby with live music between the mainstage events.” www.beaconriverfest.com
» Next fest: Maverick Concerts, Woodstock (June 30-Sept. 16)
Photograph by Dion Ogust
Maverick Concerts, Woodstock NY
(June 30-Sept. 16)
America’s oldest continuous chamber music festival presents its 97th summer series, entitled “Tour de France: Celebrating the Anniversaries of Debussy, Ravel, and Philip Glass,” under the direction of Music Director Alexander Platt. Highlights of the season, which takes place at the equally historic and rustic Maverick Concert Hall, include the new-music ensemble Sequitur and mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger in La Bonne Chanson — a pairing of Ravel’s poems with a new song cycle by Harvard’s Fromm Music Foundation (Sept. 1); young Paris-based quartet Quatuor Ébène, which offers two full-length programs — one jazz-based, the other classical (Aug. 18-19); and a presentation of “Standing on Ceremony,” a free evening of short plays on same-sex marriage by A-list writers including Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winners (June 30).
The Tokyo, Shanghai, Leipzig, and Amernet String Quartets are all back this summer, along with singers Andrew Garland and Nancy Allen Lundy; pianists Frederic Chiu, Andrew Russo, and Ilya Yakushev; cellist Zuill Bailey; violinist Tim Fain; and the wind quintet Imani, just to name a few. $25, $5 students, children under 12 free; 845-679-8217 or www.maverickconcerts.org
» Next fest: Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Phoenicia (Aug. 2-5)
Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Phoenicia NY
In just its third year, this four-day fest — the brainchild of professional singers and Ulster County residents Kerry Henderson, Louis Otey, and Maria Todaro — has a spectacular array of world-class events on tap. Mainstage events include Puccini’s Madama Butterfly conducted by Metropolitan Opera maestro Steven White and starring tenor Richard Troxell and baritone Otey (Aug. 4); the operatic comedy The Benefit featuring Todaro and Michelle Jennings (Aug. 2); a tribute to American composer — and Hudson Valley local — Peter Schickele (also known by his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach), with pianist Justin Kolb and a full chorus (Aug. 5); and Love’s Kingdom featuring tenor Barry Banks, baritone Henderson, and flutist Eugenia Zukerman (Aug. 4).
Other programs not to be missed: La Voix Humaine, Poulenc’s one-woman opera (Aug. 3); the play Lovers by celebrated Irish playwright Brian Friel (Aug. 3-4); the return of the Harvard Chamber Singers (Aug. 4); and for the kids, Uncle Rock (Aug. 3). Call for ticket information; 845-586-3588 or www.phoeniciavoicefest.org
» Next fest: Bard SummerScape (July 6-Aug. 19) and Bard Music Festival (Aug. 10-12, 17-19), Annandale-on-Hudson
Photograph by Jean-Pierre Maurin
Bard SummerScape & Bard Music Festival, Annandale-on-Hudson NY
(July 6-Aug. 19 & Aug. 10-12, 17-19, respectively)
Over the course of seven weeks, SummerScape offers a cornucopia of music, theater, dance, and film, all of which is keyed to the life and times of the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), the subject of the Bard Music Festival. SummerScape highlights include the first staged revival of Emmanuel Chabrier’s 1887 opera The King In Spite of Himself (July 27 & 29, Aug. 1, 3, & 5); an all-male staging of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid (July 13-22); and “France and the Colonial Imagination,” a film festival that explores the legacy of French colonialism in places like Africa and Indochina (July 12-Aug. 12). Now in its 23rd year, the Music Festival features 12 concerts of music composed by Saint-Saëns and his contemporaries, as well as preconcert talks and panel discussions. And the beloved Spiegeltent returns, with family events on weekend afternoons as well as a bar and late-night dancing. Call for ticket information; 845-758-7900 or http://fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape
» Next fest: Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Ulster, and Columbia County Fairs (July 13-Sept. 3)
Dutchess County Fair
Dutchess County Fair, Rhinebeck NY
Last year the largest six-day agricultural fair in New York State had to shut down early because of Hurricane Irene, but this year it’s back with all the fun you’ve come to expect. Fair features include a kiddie land; classic rides; the Antiques Museum Village; the Northern Dutchess Rod & Gun Club Wildlife Exhibit; Bixby’s Rainforest Rescue; arts and crafts; livestock showing and racing; grandstand music performances; horse shows; Horticulture Center. Close to 150 concession stands make their appearance as well; don’t miss the legendary milkshakes. Last season’s concert by Chubby Checker, father of the Twist, was cancelled by Irene, but he returns this year on Aug. 8. www.dutchessfair.com
Orange County Fair, Middletown NY
This year the fair is back to two weeks, but still open Wednesday to Sunday. The ground’s Orange County Fair Speedway is the oldest continuously operated dirt track in the country and the epicenter of the fair’s activities. www.orangecountyfair.com
Putnam County 4-H Fair, Carmel NY
Visit the Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park for food, animals, educational and environmental exhibits, and talent show. And it’s all free. www.putnamcountyfair.net
Aerial photo of the Ulster County Fair
Ulster County Fair, New Paltz NY
(July 31-Aug. 5)
This year marks the fair’s 125th anniversary. Always a bargain at $15 bucks for admission, with parking, entertainment, and rides included. Opening night is Carload Night, just $40 per car. Once you’re in there’s all the fun a fair can provide, from 4-H exhibits to country music. www.ulstercountyfair.com
Columbia County Fair, Chatham NY
(Aug. 29-Sept. 3)
Wrap up your summer of fun with music, rides, and lots of food; livestock competitions; the exotic Two by Two Zoo; flower, garden, and historical exhibits; a Painted Pony Rodeo; demolition derby; monster truck pull, and much more. www.columbiafair.com