Free concerts to put classical music in the air this summer
Nothing feels more like summer than taking a blanket or lawn chair and some goodies to the local park to listen to a band or small orchestra play a Sousa march or a Rossini overture. In the Capital Region and a little beyond, there are several community bands and a few classical music groups that will entertain this July and August in free concerts for classical music lovers.
The 30-plus member Ballston Spa Community Band is in its seventh year under the baton of Tracy DeRagon. Members range in age from 14 to 84.
The band will offer free outdoor concerts at 6 p.m. July 4 in Wiswall Park on Front Street in Ballston Spa and at 6 p.m. July 20 in Lake George as part of the ninth annual Band Festival in Shepard Park.
The 60-member Colonie Town Band, founded more than 40 years ago, often joins with the Colonie Centennial Brass Choir, which was formed in 1995. The combined group gives concerts at 7 p.m. most Mondays during the summer at various locations. Jane Oppenlander, Jeff Seckinger and Iris Tozzi share the group’s directorship.
The first outdoor concert in July will be on the 15th on the grounds of Patroon Pointe, cul-de-sac No. 3, in Rensselaer. Other concerts will be July 22 at The Crossings of Colonie, Aug. 5 at the Cook Park amphitheatre on Lincoln Avenue in Colonie and Aug. 12 at the Sanford Library plaza at 629 Shaker Road in Loudonville.
The Crossings, at 580 Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, will also host soprano Holly McCormack, who will sing at 6:30 p.m. July 25. McCormack recently appeared in Opera Saratoga’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” and will sing opera and musical theater favorites.
The Freedom Park Summer Series in Scotia offers a wide range of concerts in the amphitheater next to Jumpin’ Jack’s. Among the series’ classical offerings:
-- The Scotia-Glenville Community Band will play at 7 p.m. on July 11 and July 25.
-- On July 21, the Route Fifty 5, a brass quintet, will perform at 7 p.m.
-- At 7 p.m. on Aug. 18, the series will host the Wister String Quartet, whose members play or did play with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which will be in the area for its three-week residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra will play an outdoor concert at 7:30 p.m. July 4 at Crandall Park in Glens Falls. In what has become a tradition, the orchestra, under music director Charles Peltz, will play a program of pops music and patriotic tunes followed by fireworks. Food vendors and an antique and classic car show will also be part of the event.
The Gloversville Civic Band, under the direction of Tom Gerbino, who is also the principal clarinetist for the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, has a host of free outdoor summer concerts planned. The 30-member band, which has been in existence for at least 50 years, draws its members from the area’s many music teachers, talented students and many amateurs who moonlight musically. Shows are slated for 7 p.m. on July 10, 17, 24 and 31 and Aug. 7 at Melchoir Park.
The 50-member Guilderland Town Band, under conductor Kathleen Richards Ehlinger, will perform at 7:30 p.m. July 18 and Aug. 8 as part of the Guilderland Performing Arts Center summer series at the Tawasentha Park on Route 146 in Guilderland.
The Lake George Community Band, formed in 2003, has a new musical director. Michael Craner will conduct concerts on July 18, July 20, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 beginning at 8 p.m. in Shepard Park. The programs will include patriotic music, jazz and music written especially for bands.
Of special interest to those who can’t get enough of band music is the ninth annual Band Festival. Beginning at 5:45 p.m. on July 19 and 9:45 a.m. on July 20, the two days of music will run until at least 10 p.m., with bands coming from Canada, Connecticut and around New York. The festival will be held at Shepard Park in downtown Lake George.
The six-day Lake George Music Festival, now in its third season, brings together some of the best and brightest classical musicians to play in small ensemble concerts beginning Aug. 16. The final concert, at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 22, will be the only outdoor concert of the season, with the full symphony orchestra in Shepard Park. Roger Kalia will conduct a program of a Rossini overture, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with cellist Gabriel Cabezas, a graduate student from the Curtis Institute.
To see the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, you’ll have to make a two-hour trip up into the Adirondacks to visit this much-storied village, home to the 1980 Olympics and numerous sporting events.
Now in its 96th year, the chamber-size orchestra performs at the newly named Mid’s Park, which overlooks the picturesque Mirror Lake downtown. Under the direction of Ron Spigelman, who is in his third season, some of the orchestra includes members of the Hyperion String Quartet, who are frequent Capital Region performers. Their season will open at 7 p.m. on July 4 after the traditional downtown parade. Concerts will continue on Wednesdays from July 10 through Aug. 7 in programs that feature Celtic, film or waltz music.
At the Luzerne Music Center in Lake Luzerne, you can hear the stars of tomorrow at the center’s outdoor band shell, where student performances may include a piano prelude, one of the many larger ensembles or the full orchestra. Concerts are scheduled for 2 p.m. on July 7 and 14 and Aug. 10; at 1:30 p.m. on July 19 and Aug. 4 and 18; and at 1 p.m. on July 28. On Aug. 4 at 4 p.m., a large ensemble and the full orchestra will give a special concert at Shepard Park in Lake George.
The Rotterdam Town Concert Band, under the direction of Mark Eiser and Justin Godlewski, has only one outdoor concert this summer, at 3 p.m. July 20 as part of the Lake George Band Festival.
The Union Fire Company Marching Band of Ballston Spa, which has been in existence for more than 50 years, will provide entertainment at the village’s Wiswall Park at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1 during the annual ice cream social.