By John Chicherio, the Huntington Arts Council’s Performing Arts Director.
Summer Arts Festival Overview –
2017 Festival Overview
2017 marks the 52nd Huntington Summer Arts Festival! Once again, the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park will be lit up 6 nights per week with touring artists and ensembles from the U.S. and around the globe, as well as the very best local performing arts ensembles. Madagascar, a Plaza Theatrical production, kicks things off with the Family Series presentation on Tuesday, June 27.
Opening Weekend brings Adam Ezra Group (June 30). Ezra, a Boston-based guitarist, singer and songwriter, and his band bring a high-energy, roots-rocking show reminiscent of Springstein, Dave Mathews Band, and Jackson Brown. New York Voices (July 1) is one of music’s great vocal groups. Known for close-knit, inspired arrangements, an unparalleled vocal blend, and steeped in jazz, Brazilian, R & B, classical, and pop, their music mixes traditional sensibilities with more than a dash of the unexpected.
World Music is represented a quartet of talented ensembles. First up is singer, composer and guitarist Blick Bassy (July 7). As adept at bluesy finger-picking, jazz riffs or complex melodic patterns that reveal his Cameroonian roots, Blick’s music is self-described as “Folk Afro Blues.” Briga (July 16), is a fiddler & vocalist from north of the border whose unique sound is described as a Balkan/Quebecois mash-up of music, delivered with a Turbo Folk edge. Brasil Guitar Duo (July 27), praised for their outstanding musicianship and technical virtuosity, brings innovative programming that features a seamless blend of traditional and Brazilian works. Don’t miss the fireworks wrought by Villalobos Brothers (August 3), a trio of sibling violinists that masterfully blends and celebrates the richness of Mexican folk music with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music, delivered in an intoxicating explosion of brilliance.
Huntington Jazz Week features a full seven days exploring the art of jazz, beginning with Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz (July 18) for the kids; big band swing from HCB (July 19); a night of Gershwin with Ted Rosenthal Trio (July 20); smooth contemporary world fusion with Chieli Minucci & Special EFX (July 21), Coltrane Day with afternoon workshops, performances & jams, prior to an evening with jazz harpist Brandee Younger and headliner alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett (July 22); and finally the Turtle Island Quartet & Cyrus Chestnut (July 23) performing “Jelly Rags & Monk”, a special program exploring the evolution of jazz from Jelly Roll Morton to Thelonius Monk.
Americana Folk gets its attention grabbing weekend with L. I.’s own Miles to Dayton (July 28); the 12th Annual Huntington Folk Festival (July 29) co-presented with Folk Music Society of Huntington hosting afternoon showcases and song swaps, followed by Sarah Lee Guthrie plus The Mammals (fest. Mike & Ruthy); concluding with The Sweet Remains’ (July 30) folk rock harmonies.
We welcome back David Stewart Wiley and the Concert Orchestra of Long Island (August 5), newly reformed under the auspices of Chamber Players International. Maestro Wiley and L.I. Philharmonic alumni will serve up a delicious evening of all classical “Music Under the Stars”, including Mozart’s Turkish Concerto and other works TBA.
The Festival’s eclectic tradition continues with a delicious sampling of superb artistry and a mix of genres. Jay Armstrong Johnson (July 15), one of the great young talents active on Broadway (On The Town, Catch Me If You Can) and on TV (“Quantico”) will delight with his thrilling vocal prowess, performing show tunes and selections from Great American Song Book. The Sherman Holmes Project (July 13) celebrates the great Blues, Gospel & Soul legacy of the Holmes Brothers Band. Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica (August 6), another Boston-based band, brings an exotic mix of classical, popular and jazz motifs. Baldwin-based Nonstop to Cairo (August 11) will get everyone dancin’ with their upbeat fusion of ska, hiphop and funk. Brother Joscephus & The Love Revolution (August 13) returns for our Festival Finale bringing their special gumbo of NOLA funk, gospel and just plain fun!
Dance continues to dazzle with Sol y Sombra (July 14) delivering a spicy evening of Spanish dance with special guest artists from the Brazilian Dance Company (come early for FREE pre-concert Samba lessons on the Chapin Stage!) The L.I. Dance Consortium returns with two fabulous concerts by superb local dance companies on July 6 and August 9.
The Huntington Community Band will again provide wonderfully entertaining programs under Music Director Tom Gellert’s baton on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning June 28. The Huntington Men’s Chorus takes the stage on June 29. The Island Hills Chorus and Twin Shores Chorus share the bill for their annual Barbershop and Sweet Adeline songfest on August 10. The North Shore Pops Concert Band on July 3, the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra on July 9 will provide delightful music on consecutive Sunday evenings. The L.I. Jazz Orchestra will play distinctive arrangements of big band swing on August 2. And don’t miss out on longtime festival favorite Northport Community Band’s fabulous Thursday evening performances at the Robert W. Krueger Bandstand in Northport Village Park.
And last but certainly not least, BROADWAY comes to Huntington compliments of Plaza Theatrical Productions’ “Hairspray” (July 8) and “My Fair Lady” (August 12); plus Broadhollow Theatre Company’s “Smokey Joe’s Café” (August 4).