By John Chicherio, the Huntington Arts Council’s Performing Arts Director.
Summer Arts Festival Overview –
“A New Beginning”
2016 marks the 51st Huntington Summer Arts Festival! Once again, the Chapin Rainbow Stage will be lit up and Heckscher Park will be filled with a fabulous array of Music, Dance and Musical Theatre! An outstanding roster of touring artists and ensembles from the U.S. and around the globe, as well as the very best local arts ensembles, will entertain this summer.
Two special ladies help us kick things off: Ann Hampton Callaway will open on June 25 with a wonderful, witty and winning performance drawn from the Great American Song Book. The iconic “Delta Lady,” Rita Coolidge, Grammy winning vocalist and Native American activist with a string of classic pop, rock & contemporary adult hits is here June 26.
“Coltrane Day” returns on July 23 in collaboration with The Coltrane Home. Legendary percussionist Roy Haynes (91 years young!) & The Fountain of Youth Band will headline the evening program; a full daytime schedule of performances, workshops & jam sessions will be announced. Coltrane Day culminates a tasty week exploring the many flavors of jazz: Swingtime Big Band on July 17; Huntington Community Band’s pre- and full concert programs on July 20; Isotope Stompers (Dixieland Swing) on July 21; world-fusion from TIZER featuring keyboardist Lao Tizer, guitar master Chieli Minucci (Special EFX) & violinist Karen Briggs (Yanni) on July 22; contemporary jazz pianist Amina Figarova and her Sextet on July 24.
We welcome the premiere all-classical performance by conductor & pianist David Stewart Wiley with the newly formed Concert Orchestra of Long Island on August 13. (David was the long-time Music Director and the orchestra is made up of veterans of the L.I. Philharmonic which regrettably closed its doors last February.) World-renowned virtuoso violinist Stephanie Chase arrives on August 4, accompanied by pianist Joshua Cullen, to perform selections from her vast repertoire. O Solé Trio’s “Pavarotti to Pop” on July 16 includes favorite pieces from Opera and Broadway to Sinatra & modern pop. We are also pleased to present ETHEL on July 29. One of modern music’s premiere String Quartets, the program of new music will include a world premiere of a new commissioned work by L. I. composer Bruce Wolosoff.
WORLD MUSIC groups this year include the Samuel Torres Group on July 2, led by the master percussionist and composer from Colombia, S.A.; Ginkgoa, a delightful neo-pop/rock gypsy jazz band from Paris, France (on July 14 – Bastille Day no less!); and Democratoz, a pulsating Afro beat/reggae & rock band from Algeria, compliments of Center Stage, a U.S. Dept. of State sponsored tour, arriving July 28.
Singer/songwriter Slaid Cleaves headlines the 11th Huntington Folk Festival on July 30, presented in collaboration with the Folk Music Society of Huntington; Huntington’s Kirsten Maxwell, a rising star in folk music circles, opens. A full day of song swaps & unplugged showcases by 30 or more folk artists will perform from noon to six (details TBA). On July 31, Christine Lavin & Don White promise a hilarious evening of songs, stories and humor. Jen Chapin joins us for a night of Urban Folk & Americana on August 5. The Festival’s closing night on August 14 brings The Batture Boys, a new pairing of Tommy Malone (leader of the subdudes) with Ray Ganucheau (Continental Drifters) for a rollicking evening of NOLA roots, southern rock and blues.
Dance always dazzles on the Chapin Rainbow Stage! Don’t miss Philadelphia’s Illstyle & Peace Productions on July 15 for contemporary dance with a decidedly Hip-Hop & acrobatic break-dance sensibility. On July 1, Sol y Sombra delivers a spicy evening of Spanish dance with a special salute to Afro-Cuban rhythms. The L.I. Dance Consortium returns with two fabulous concerts by superb local dance companies on July 7 and August 10.
The Huntington Community Band will again provide wonderfully entertaining programs under Music Director Tom Gellert’s baton on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning June 29. The Huntington Men’s Chorus takes the stage on June 30; the Huntington Choral Society will deliver a selection of jazz standards on July 8. The Island Hills Chorus and Twin Shores Chorus share the bill on August 3 for their annual Barbershop and Sweet Adeline songfest on August 5. The Senior Pops Orchestra of L.I. on July 3, and the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra on July 10 will provide delightful music on consecutive Sunday evenings. 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.
BROADWAY comes to Huntington compliments of Plaza Theatrical Productions’ “All Shook Up” (July 9) and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (August 12); plus Broadhollow Theatre Company’s “Sondheim On Sondheim” (August 6).
Tuesday evenings (curtain at 7:30 PM) are devoted to “It’s Showtime” Family entertainment; See separate Family Series web page right here under the Summer Arts Festival section on our web site.
L.I. Spotlight introduces a pair of talented local bands just emerging to make their mark in the music world: Ladies Drink Free will light it up with their horn-powered indie jazz, funk, pop & post-punk blend of jam-band party music (August 7); Cloud Caverns explores a more acoustic, yet no less intense immersion into indie folk & alt rock genres (August 11).