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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, will celebrate the music of legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim on June 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Springfield Symphony Hall.

The Sondheim Celebration, conducted by Tim Stella, will feature Broadway stars Hugh Panaro and Lisa Vroman. Joining the cast are Ron Raines and Florence Lacey, who recently co-starred in the Broadway revival of Sondheim’s Follies.

“Stephen Sondheim has been a Broadway legend as both composer and lyricist, and his string of hits include the lyrics to West Side Story (which was recently remade as a film), Company (currently a sell-out on Broadway), A Little Night Music (headed to Barrington Stage this summer), Encore’s Into The Woods transferring to Broadway, and more,” said Stella. “I’m so looking forward to hearing his great melodies performed by a full orchestra, and showcased by some of the best names on Broadway.”

Stella conducted The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and before that, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella, Hello Dolly!, and Legs Diamond. He served as vocal coach to Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler, who portrayed Christine and the Phantom respectively, in the movie version of Phantom. Stella has also served as the resident music director of Goodspeed Musicals, and a conductor at Radio City Music Hall.

Panaro is best known for having played the role of the Phantom in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera over 2,000 times. He made his Broadway debut as Marius in the original production of Les Misérables, a role he originated in the First National Company. He created the roles of Buddy in Side Show, Julian Caster in The Red Shoes, the title role in the American premiere of Martin Guerre, and the title role in Elton John’s Lestat.

Vroman, who made her Broadway debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love, starred for several years on Broadway as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. She also starred as Rosabella in New York City Opera’s The Most Happy Fella. Some of her notable roles are: Charlotte in A Little Night Music with Michigan Opera Theatre; Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate with both Glimmerglass Opera and the MUNY Theater of St. Louis; and Marian Paroo in The Music Man at the Bushnell. She was the first to play both Fantine and Cosette in Les Misérables. She appeared as Johanna in the San Francisco Symphony’s Emmy Award-winning Sweeney Todd in Concert, with Patti Lupone and George Hearn.

Raines is a Tony and Grammy Award nominee for the acclaimed 2012 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Ron has also starred on Broadway as Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies, Billy Flynn in Chicago, Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat, and Nick Longworth in Teddy & Alice. He has delighted audiences around the country in A Little Night Music opposite Leslie Uggams. He has appeared on four PBS “Great Performances,” and was a three-time Emmy nominee for his role as the nefarious Alan Spaulding on CBS’s longest running daytime drama Guiding Light.

Lacey was last seen on Broadway in the critically acclaimed Kennedy Center production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. She made her Broadway debut as Irene Malloy in Hello Dolly!  for which she won the Theater World Award. And her biggest role was Eva Peron in Evita, a role she played on Broadway and on tour around the world.  Her other Broadway credits include Les Misérables; The Grand Tour; and An Evening with Jerry Herman (Mac Award). In regional theater, she appeared in Pal Joey at Goodspeed Opera House and A Little Night Music at Connecticut Repertory Theatre. At the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C., she performed Sunday in the Park with George, Follies, and a concert version of My Fair Lady.

MOSSO’s Summer Concerts continue with the return of Maestro Kevin Rhodes on July 21, in a MOSSO Benefit Concert of light classics and music of John Williams. Violinist Yevgeny Kutik, whose two prior solo appearances in Springfield were met with great acclaim, will perform select pieces. Tickets for both concerts, priced $60, $45, $25, and $10, are on sale at: SpringfieldSymphonyMusicians.com.

 

 

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will be the lead sponsor of the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, MOSSO, celebration of the music of legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

On June 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Springfield Symphony Hall, the Sondheim Celebration, conducted by Tim Stella, will feature Broadway stars Hugh Panaro, Lisa Vroman, Ron Raines, and Florence Lacey.

“MOSSO has come a long way since our first concert on the steps of Springfield Symphony Hall last year,” said Beth Welty, MOSSO chair. “We needed to develop an organization that would provide work opportunities for its professional musicians, because the Springfield Symphony Orchestra paused its performances in March, 2020. MOSSO formally received nonprofit status and that enabled us to produce full-scale orchestral and chamber music performances. We appreciate the Richard P. Garmany Fund’s commitment to live, professional, and quality orchestral performances in Springfield. This funding allows MOSSO to present the first of two orchestral summer concerts in downtown Springfield. We haven’t had summer orchestral concerts in Springfield in decades.”

The Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has been a major sponsor of arts and cultural programming in the region. Richard P. Garmany died in 2008. He was a frequent audience member at many concerts throughout the region.

MOSSO’s Summer Concerts continue with the return of Maestro Kevin Rhodes on July 21, in a MOSSO Benefit Concert of light classics and music of John Williams. Violinist Yevgeny Kutik, whose two prior solo appearances in Springfield were met with great acclaim, will perform select pieces.

Tickets for both concerts, priced $60, $45, $25, and $10, are on sale at: SpringfieldSymphonyMusicians.com.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will stage its next concert, ‘Dances of Spring,’ on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Springfield Symphony Hall with guest conductor Mark Russell Smith. 

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased on the Springfield Symphony Orchestra website, springfieldsymphony.org/event/dances-of-spring/, or by calling the SSO box office at (413) 733-2291. The box office is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets also include free parking. 

Mark Russell Smith will lead the orchestra in Michael Abels’ Liquify, which captures the shifting moods of a great river. Abels is a U.S. composer and producer best known for his scores for the Oscar-winning films Get Out and Us.  

The concert will also feature the dance music of great composers Aaron Copland and Gabriela Lena Frank, with Copland’s Saturday Night Waltz and Frank’s Coquetos, followed by Johannes Brahms’ famous Symphony #1. 

“The diversity of the composers we are featuring in our May 13 program will be something to witness — two living composers of non-traditional backgrounds, Abels and Frank, combined with the classic beauty of Copland and Brahms,” said SSO Interim Director Paul Lambert. “It will serve as a wonderful bookend to our 2022 spring concerts as we look forward to planning a new 2022-23 season.” 

Smith, who previously served as music director and conductor of the SSO from 1995-2000, is music director and conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. He has worked as director of New Music Projects for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has also served as music director for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Smith Also served as guest conductor for the SSO’s first Spring concert on April 22. 

To learn more about the music that will be featured and to purchase tickets, visit the SSO’s website: www.springfieldsymphony.org/event/dances-of-spring/.  

Concert dates for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s 2022-23 season will be announced in the near future. 

Travel and Tourism

Better Late Than Never

Femi Kuti & the Positive Force

Femi Kuti & the Positive Force entertain the crowd at the Green River Festival in 2018. (Photo by Douglas Mason)

Since its inception in the late 1980s, the Green River Festival had never been canceled. Until last year.

And Jim Olsen wanted to give it every chance to return in 2021, even if it meant moving the date from mid-July to Aug. 27-29 — which turned out to be unnecessary, but hey, better safe than sorry.

“It was definitely a challenge to plan on so many levels,” said Olsen, president of Signature Sounds, the Northampton-based company that produces the annual festival in Greenfield.

“It became apparent in January that July wasn’t going to fly — at least, it didn’t seem that way at the time,” he went on, a perception that speaks volumes about how far the state and the nation have come with COVID-19 case rates and a massive vaccination effort. At first, the move seemed prescient, especially after Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state would fully reopen, without gathering restrictions, on Aug. 1.

No one knew the governor would eventually shift that date to May 29, but Olsen doesn’t mind an extra month to get the Green River Festival right, even if the planning got a little thorny.

“We had already booked all the musicians for July, and we had to scrap that and start over again for August,” he said — a feat in itself, since musicians tend to book a series of shows in succession, and it’s not always easy to shift dates around.

“These musicians are dying to get back out there. They depend on being on the road.”

But shift they did, and this year’s festival features about 30 bands, headlined by the likes of Jon Batiste, Shakey Graves, Ani DiFranco, Valerie June, and Drive-By Truckers over the event’s three days. Check out greenriverfestival.com for the full lineup and plenty of other information.

Speaking of changes, the festival also had to find another venue after 33 years at Greenfield Community College, which announced earlier this year it would be closed for the summer. The new host is the Franklin County Fairgrounds, which actually offers more space, Olsen said. “It’s a great site, and we’re really excited about it. I feel it’s going to be a new and exciting chapter for us.”

He’s not the only one who’s excited. Musicians have struggled badly during the pandemic like few businesses have — and, make no mistake, music is a business, one that relies on live performance.

“These days, you really don’t make much money recording,” Olsen said of a market that has radically de-emphasized physical product in favor of streaming. “It’s all in the live shows. These musicians are dying to get back out there. They depend on being on the road.”

While they’re enjoying this year’s stop along that road — the event will feature music on three different stages throughout the weekend — the festival will also feature plenty of what fans have loved in the past, from Berkshire Brewing Co.’s beer and wine tent to food trucks hailing from across the Northeast to the Makers Market, a collection of regional artisans selling handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, and more.

“We’ve worked very hard building a world-class crafts market,” Olsen said. “We like to represent the best of Western Mass. at the Green River Festival. That’s why we continue to do so well.”

Tickets cost $139.99 for the weekend, but patrons can attend Friday only for $44.99 or Saturday or Sunday for $69.99 each day. Camping is available, but RV passes are already sold out.

“Our ticket sales have been very, very strong, from the minute we announced it,” Olsen said. “There’s so much anticipation among people to get back to life, to get back out and enjoy the stuff we love. I’ve always felt like this was a big community party — and this year, it’s going to be supersized.”

 

—Joseph Bednar

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