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Jonathan Biss (man sits in a sparcly decorated room)
Benjamin Ealovega

For the past decade, Jonathan Biss has immersed himself in the music of Beethoven, especially the piano sonatas, solidifying his place as one of the renowned interpreters of the composer’s music.

With his original performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center having been curtailed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Biss has carefully curated a special program recorded live from his home in NYC that is exclusive to the Saratoga Springs audience. He will guide viewers through an exploration of Beethoven’s prolific sonatas for solo piano including a performance of two of his favorite works as part of SPAC's Beethoven 2020 celebration.

Reflecting Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park
photo provided

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center has completely reimagined their Saratoga Wine and Food Festival – happening this coming weekend. The festival will feature a collaboration between renowned regional chefs and international culinary talent including UK farm-to-table chefs.

Adding to the ambiance of the festival will be a sculpture garden presented by The Hyde Collection featuring works by artist John Van Alstine, considered one of America’s most important sculptors, in addition to live music curated by Caffè Lena, and photographic works of art created from compostables by Terri-Lynn Pellegri.

The festival is set around the Spa State Park reflecting pool, slated for October 4-5. We are joined by President & CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center Elizabeth Sobol and Caffè Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig.

The New York City Ballet will return to its summer home, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, for four distinct programs over seven performances July 16 -20. The run will be highlighted by the story-ballet "Coppélia." Considered one of the greatest comedic ballets of the 19th Century, "Coppélia" premiered in Saratoga in 1974 and was co-commissioned by SPAC.

Sterling Hyltin is a dancer with the New York City Ballet. She will be performing in two dances during the season at SPAC: Varied Trio (in four) (Harrison/Frohlich) and Apollo (Stravinsky/Balanchine).

This summer, The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will present perennial favorites such as Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Opera Saratoga, plus exciting new programming.

SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol joins us with a preview of the season.

Morning Headlines With Miles Reed Of The Daily Gazette

Nov 14, 2018

WAMC's David Guistina speaks with Miles Reed, Editor of The Daily Gazette, about Saratoga Springs, N.Y. parents who are continuing to push for armed guards at local schools. The pair also dicuss the pension crisis at the former St. Clare's hospital in Schenectady, N.Y. 

JDRF

500 cyclists are geared up to raise funds for Type 1 Diabetes research Saturday. 

Lake George Opera, now Opera Saratoga, began with a production of "Die Fledermaus" at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230 people. The company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually.

This season, Opera Saratoga presents productions of “The Merry Widow,” “The Consul,” and a double-header with the American Premier of “Rocking Horse Winner,” and the World Premiere of a chamber version of “Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera.”

The season runs through July 15. Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson joins us.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan address those gathered Monday for swearings-in at Albany City Hall.
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A new year brings new leadership in many area communities. Here's a roundup of the swearing-ins in the Capital Region and beyond...

Saratoga County Sheriff's Deputy Dies While On Training Run

Nov 13, 2017
Saratoga County Sheriff's Office

A Saratoga County Sheriff's deputy died Sunday while on a training run. Sheriff Michael Zurlo said John Brown, a triathlete, died while running in Albany. His cause of death was not announced.

The creator of the award-winning TV series "Mad Men" has just written a debut novel - about family, power and privilege.

In "Heather, the Totality," Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new owners of the penthouse above them begin construction, an unstable stranger penetrates the security of their comfortable lives and threatens to destroy everything they've created.

Matthew Weiner has been entertaining audiences for two decades, most recently as writer, creator, executive producer, and director of "Mad Men," one of television's most honored series. He also worked as a writer and executive producer on "The Sopranos."

On Saturday night at 7:30 pm, Weiner will appear as part of the popular “Yaddo Presents” series. This event will take place in Gannett Auditorium at Skidmore College. Weiner will be interviewed on stage by Elaina Richardson, President of Yaddo, about "Heather, the Totality," which was written at Yaddo.

#SportsReport: Whitney Set For Saturday At Saratoga

Aug 4, 2017
Patrick Garrett/WAMC

NYRA:

One of the biggest races during the Saratoga meeting takes center stage on Saturday afternoon.  The $1.25 million Grade 1 Whitney Stakes for 3-year-olds and upward drew seven horses bidding for a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a victory.

The horse to beat is Gun Runner, currently the third-ranked horse in the world and second in North America behind Arrogate in the NTRA poll. The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride was established as the clear 4-5 favorite by morning line oddsmaker Travis Stone at Tuesday’s draw at Sperry’s Restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Elizabeth Sobol, a veteran of the classical music and recording industry, is spending her first summer as the President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. She joins us this morning to tell us what is happening on stage and behind-the-scenes at SPAC over the coming weeks.

She comes to Saratoga Springs from Miami Beach, where she was president and CEO of Universal Music Classics. Before that she spent nearly three decades at IMG Artists as its managing director.

After a successful with the NYC Ballet, she is here to tell us about the Philadelphia Orchestra coming to SPAC tonight as well as SPAC on Stage and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

#SportsReport: Races Begin Today At Saratoga Race Course

Jul 21, 2017
Horses Racing at Saratoga
WAMC/stock

NYRA:

Today marks the 149th opening day at Saratoga race course. During the 40 days of racing, there will be approximately 400 total races and 69 of them will be stakes races worth a record $18,775 million. The centerpiece of the meet, as always, will be the $1.25 million Travers Stakes for 3-year-olds. Gates open today at 11 am and the first race is expected to start at 1 pm.

Acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the young, virtuosic Havana Lyceum Orchestra led by José Antonio Méndez Padrón will bring their remarkable cross-cultural Mozart in Havana tour to Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center on June 20 at 7 p.m., in a concert co-presented by Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Skidmore College. 

Simone Dinnerstein joins us to tell us more.

In the autumn of 1777, near Saratoga, New York, an inexperienced and improvised American army led by General Horatio Gates faced off against the highly trained British and German forces led by General John Burgoyne.

The British strategy in confronting the Americans in upstate New York was to separate rebellious New England from the other colonies. Despite inferior organization and training, the Americans exploited access to fresh reinforcements of men and materiel, and ultimately handed the British a stunning defeat. The American victory, for the first time in the war, confirmed that independence from Great Britain was all but inevitable. 

Dean Snow is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Penn State University and past president of the Society for American Archaeology. His previous books include Archaeology of Native North America and The Iroquois. His new book is 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga.

The Tang Teaching Museum on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga will be having an Election Night Extravaganza - a full evening of dialogue, activities, and refreshments with live coverage of the voting results. 

The event is co-sponsored by Skidmore College clubs Democracy Matters, College Republicans, and College Democrats. This event is part of the exhibition A More Perfect Union and is free and open to the public which runs from 7 pm to midnight.

To tell us more – we welcome Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, and curator of A More Perfect Union. Minita Sanghvi, an assistant professor in Management and Business at Skidmore College who specializes in political marketing and issues of gender and power. And Ron Seyb is here, an associate professor of political science, who specializes in the American presidency, the U.S. Congress, political psychology, and the media and politics.

The Food Pantries for the Capital District is a coalition of 56 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties. They provide funding, delivery, coordination of services and food drives, and education and training to their member food pantries. Their Executive Director will join us later on.

Their fundraiser, the Harvest Evening Celebration, will be happening next Thursday at Revolution Hall in Troy, NY.

To tell us more, we welcome the Executive Director of the Food Pantries for the Capital District, Natasha Pernicka. 

Hattie’s Restaurant has been bringing classic Southern cooking to Saratoga Springs, New York, since 1938, when Louisiana native Hattie Gray, then a household cook, saved up enough money to start Hattie’s Chicken Shack.

Now, their traditional and timeless fare is featured in the Hattie’s Restaurant Cookbook, by Hattie’s owner and chef Jasper Alexander. This book traces the restaurant’s history from the beginning to the present through recipes, anecdotes, and photographs. From downhome jambalaya to good old-fashioned fried chicken, Alexander intertwines Hattie’s Southern roots with nostalgic homemade tastes.

Jasper Alexander studied at the Culinary Institute of America and is featured regularly in regional papers. He has also made several guest appearances on local television and radio. In 2006, he appeared on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, where he beat Flay in a chicken-frying contest. 

Renée Fleming
Decca/Andrew Eccles

  This Thursday at 8pm the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the baton of its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will take the stage at SPAC and be joined - for her first time at that venue - by opera star, Renée Fleming.

Ms. Fleming joins us to discuss that concert, travel, language, and her role as Kennedy Center Artistic Partner.

  Led by co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center returns to the Spa Little Theater at SPAC for six innovative and diverse programs that get underway on Sunday.

The first concert – Sunday at 3PM – is entitled: Symphonic Spirit and will feature the music of Ravel, Haydn, Copeland and Schubert. This morning for a preview we welcome two of the musicians taking part in the program. We welcome Bassoonist Marc Goldberg and Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. 

  The 16th annual Saratoga Choral Festival takes place at the Spa Little Theater in Spa State Park - this Sunday, July 31st, at 3:00 PM. The festival will present a concert of music for children featuring a semi-staged production of the popular Magic Tree House: The Musical. 

The Magic Tree House: The Musical is based on the popular series of children’s books by Mary Pope Osborne. This show has seen sold out performances for its national tour. Several musical selections have been adapted for chorus, and special guest performers from the Saratoga Children’s Theater will provide extra speaking roles and also sing with the choir.

Also included on the program - Never-Ending Song, a Young Person’s Guide to the Choir. Originally premiered by the Vancouver Chamber Choir in 2001, the Never-Ending Song takes children through a brief history of choral singing through music.

The Saratoga Choral Festival began in the summer of 2001 and we are joined by Festival Director, Andrea Goodman, and by chorus members Mira DeGregory and Jackson Cherry. 

  In his remarkable novel, Tod Wodicka, author of All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well, has crafted a story of a most curious friendship.

The Household Spirit is poignant, big-hearted, and often very humorous novel about two unique individuals unceremoniously thrown together. It is a story about how little we know the people we see every day - and of the unexpected capabilities of the human heart.

Tod Wodicka was born in Glens Falls, New York and now lives in Berlin.

U.S. Mint

Last week officials from the U.S. Mint and National Park Service met at Schuylerville Junior-Senior High School to unveil the new Saratoga National Historical Quarter. The coin, depicting the moment British General John Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga in 1777, considered the turning point in the Revolution, is the last of the five new American The Beautiful Quarters put into circulation this year.

WAMC's Lucas Willard spoke with Eric Schnitzer,  a park ranger at Saratoga National Historical Park, about the coin and the image chosen for it.

Police say a 23-year-old man has been charged with causing about $6,000 in damage to a thoroughbred statue unveiled in a Saratoga Springs park last summer.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

  Patrick Madden has won a four-way race for mayor of Troy, New York. In Saratoga, Joanne Yepsen won another term.  Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy defeated Roger Hull to win another term in office. We hear reports from WAMC's Lucas Willard, Jessica Bloustein-Marshall and Dave Lucas.  

  Each region of the country has its own distinctive history and culture that set it apart from others. The Capital Region of New York—consisting of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties— is no different.

Last month, The Albany Institute of History and Art opened an exhibition celebrating the heritage of this area. The Capital Region in 50 Objects will be on view through April 3rd.

The exhibition was planned in partnership with the Times Union and was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts. Additional funding was provided by the New York Council for the Humanities and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

The Albany Institute of History and Art is just down the road from our studio in Albany. I went there to talk about the exhibition with Chief Curator Doug McCombs and Curator Diane Shewchuk.

  Longtime local journalist Thomas Dimopoulos has a new book out this summer, Saratoga Stories: Magic and Loss.

It is a collection of short stories and photographs that weaves in an exclusive timeline of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to tell the story of Saratoga.

Dimopoulos has worked as a journalist in Saratoga since 1998, including more than a decade as an award-winning staff writer at The Post-Star, The Saratogian and Saratoga Wire.

Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

  An effort is underway in Saratoga Springs to obtain funding to rebuild a Depression-era bathhouse and re-open it as a wellness center. 


  The new opera The Long Walk is based on Brian Castner’s critically acclaimed book of the same name. The opera is a deeply personal exploration of a soldier’s return from Iraq where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and his battle with what he calls “the Crazy” as he tries to reintegrate into his family life upon returning from the war.

Opera Saratoga at the Spa Little Theatre is presenting the world premiere of The Long Walk in partnership with American Lyric Theater. Internationally renowned theater and opera director David Schweizer makes his Opera Saratoga debut.

Grammy Award winning baritone Daniel Belcher returns to Opera Saratoga to create the role of Brian, alongside mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, who makes her company debut as his wife Jessie. The two performers join us for this interview.

A Saratoga Springs Police officer has been suspended after tangling with a First Amendment rights crusader from Troy.

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