This week, NYSCA grantees launch a jam-packed theater season in Buffalo, kick off an intriguing fall arts schedule in Albany, and more.
Raising the curtain on the 2017-18 theater season
“Every year, as the new theater season approaches, observers of the scene ask themselves the same question: How long can Buffalo’s great theatrical growth spurt last? It’s been going on long enough — two decades and counting — that you can hardly call it a spurt anymore…This season, local professional and semi-professional companies, as well as road houses like Shea’s Performing Arts Center, will mount more than 100 productions. Excluding the inevitable last-minute additions, the season currently features 44 dramas, 33 musicals, 13 comedies and seven shows for children.” Upcoming NYSCA grantee productions include MusicalFare Theatre’s “Peter Pan” prequel “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Road Less Traveled Production’s mysterious drama “John” by Annie Baker, Alleyway Theatre’s musical horror comedy “Killer Rack,” Noel Coward comedy “Design for Living” at Irish Classical Theatre Company, and 600 Highwaymen’s “The Fever” as part of Torn Space Theatre’s Response Festival.
‘What a Wonderful World’ milestone celebrated at Louis Armstrong House Museum
“Louis Armstrong had countless hits across his storied career, but none more popular than the enduring jazz classic “What a Wonderful World.” Armstrong didn’t write the song, but his handwritten version of it is on display at the Louis Armstrong House Museum as part of a special exhibition marking its 50th anniversary. The exhibit also features photos, sheet music from the recording and other related artifacts for fans to enjoy…Recorded in 1967, “What a Wonderful World” celebrated peace and love at a time when the country was badly divided by the Vietnam War and protests…Museum officials say he didn’t like the song at first. He wasn’t thrilled with the music, but once he saw the words, the song became personal. “He realized that it was all he felt about Corona, his neighborhood,” said Adriana Filstrup of the Louis Armstrong House Museum. “So that’s why he choose to sing this song, to make it his.”…Armstrong and his wife Lucille bought this modest house on 107th Street in 1943, and he lived here until his death in 1971. It is now a national landmark.” NYSCA supports the Louis Armstrong House Museum through our Museum Program.
Brooklyn Book Festival Starts Monday, September 11th
“The Brooklyn Book Festival (BKBF) and Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council has released the complete schedule for a full week of Literary Events beginning Monday, September 11 and culminating in Children’s Day (Saturday, September 16) and Festival Day (Sunday, September 17)…the week kicks off with iconic artist, performer and author Patti Smith presenting her new book Devotion at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church…The flagship 14-stage Festival Day is New York City’s largest free literary event, attracting tens of thousands each year. This year’s festival features more than 300 writers of beloved works of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and graphic novels who will participate in panels, readings and other creative performances. Attendees are welcome to take a stroll through the vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace, hosting more than 200 independent booksellers and publishers. This year’s Festival themes address pressing contemporary social and literary topics from refugees and immigration to music writing, science fiction and the always relevant topic of love.” NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Book Festival through our Literature Program.
Youtheatre: Class Acts brings live performance to children for 25 years
“During the last 2½ decades, the Ogdensburg Command Performances Youtheatre: Class Acts program has presented approximately 400 live stage productions to more than 340,000 elementary and secondary students at schools across the north country…This year’s 25th season of the Youtheatre program has been expanded to 24 performances consisting of six productions in the four school districts of Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg and Salmon River…“We’re adding an additional venue in Franklin County which enables us to reach the Akwesasne population,” said [OCP Administrator Sally F.] Palao. “And we’ll present ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to two additional high schools in Massena and Gouverneur.’”… Mrs. Palao said this year’s 25th season marks an obvious milestone for the Youtheatre program, which had a difficult season last year because of budget cuts…The OCP Youtheatre program is unique, according to Mrs. Palao, because it enables students from across the north country to attend professional stage productions during the school day. Ogdensburg, Massena, Gouverneur and Salmon River schools are chosen as the base for the performances because the school campuses have the largest auditoriums. Students from other, smaller districts are then bused from the respective schools to the larger venues on performance days. The cost is shared by Youtheatre, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and local districts.” NYSCA supports OCP through our Presenting Program.
Fall arts guide
The Albany Times-Union’s fall arts guide celebrates the Capital Region’s flourishing scene. NYSCA grantees featured include Proctors, whose Festival of South African Dance will showcase the politically charged Pantsula form—quick, syncopated stepping set to pop, electronic, techno or house music, frequently used as a medium for speaking out against apartheid and socioeconomic injustice; Hudson Hall, which will offer a rare performance of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s opera “The Mother of Us All” about the life of Susan B. Anthony; Capital Repertory Theatre, which presents Laura Eason’s digital-age comedy “Sex with Strangers,” and Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which will offer a light night of classical music parody with a new work by P.D.Q. Bach.
Raising the next generation of classical music lovers
“At a time when classical music is straining to attract new and younger audiences, tuba player Karen Geer is working hard to cultivate the next generation of musicians and music lovers. She leads the InterSchool Orchestras of New York, a nonprofit whose eight musical ensembles—composed of 350 musicians ages 6 to 19—perform in schools, community centers and nursing homes, and onstage at venues such as Lincoln Center. Using scholarships, financial aid and sliding-scale tuition, ISO provides music education for kids of all incomes and in all neighborhoods. They must audition and are placed in ensembles depending on their skill level. During Geer’s five years at the helm, she has increased corporate philanthropy and more than doubled government support.” This season, the ISO is cross-marketing with professional music groups and schools, such as the Third Street Music School Settlement, providing a quarter of a million dollars in need-based scholarships, and performing at high-profile venues such as the Oculus Plaza at the World Trade Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The orchestra plans to double its number of students to 700 by its 50th anniversary in 2022. NYSCA supports the ISO through our Arts Education Program.