SPAC Announces Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet Offerings

Tradition and Innovation Balance in Ambitious Classical Seasons

SARATOGA SPRINGS – First the New York City Ballet presents six performances – four evenings and two matinees – in mid- and late-July at Saratoga Performing Arts Center; then the Philadelphia Orchestra performs a dozen evening concerts from early- to mid-August.

Both seasons at Saratoga Performing Arts Center will feature premieres as well as fan favorites; and both new and familiar faces.

Of the NYC Ballet offerings, SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol said in SPAC’s announcement, “Throughout our packed week of performances, audiences can look forward to an exhilarating mix of beloved traditional ballets by Balanchine and Robbins, and new contemporary works by the next generation of choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Justin Peck and Gianna Reisen, alongside exciting composers like Solange Knowles and James Blake. The residency will also feature Justin Peck’s first evening-length ballet.”   

Dancers from the 90-member company will perform under the direction of Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford and Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, with music by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, led by Music Director Andrew Litton.

However, the season will highlight the creations of ground-breaking choreographers, although often set to familiar music. For example, Justin Peck’s works include music of 20th Century modernists Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, while Christopher Wheeldon’s “Liturgy” brings movement to music by Estonian composer Arvo Part.

The NYC Ballet season culminates with narrative works by renowned, crowd-pleasing giants Peter Tchaikovsky, George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins.

Ten days later, the Philadelphia Orchestra begins its season where many past seasons have ended: with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with fireworks.

Also, three performances will accompany large-screen visuals: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert” on Aug. 5; “Earth: An HD Odyssey” Aug. 18 and “Jurassic Park in Concert” in the final concert Aug. 19. Also, the “Earth: An HD Odyssey” concert relates thematically to the Aug. 12 “Blessed Earth” concert combining music of J.L. Adams’s “Vespers of the Blessed Earth” and Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Sobol said of these programs, “The Orchestra’s residency will carry our 2023 ‘Earth’ theme…with iconic works and premieres that honor the planet and its awe-inspiring beauty, an homage to SPAC’s exquisite location in the natural world.”

The Philadelphia Orchestra also welcomes guests from the pop world: the cocktail-jazz combo Pink Martini Aug. 4 and “An Evening with Audra McDonald” principally singing Broadway repertoire Aug. 10.  Last season, the Orchestra accompanied R&B singer Ledisi in a Nina Simone tribute.

Musical Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin leads only two back-to-back concerts, with numerous guest conductors on the podium otherwise. Nezet-Sequin leads the orchestra in a “Rachmaninoff at 150” celebration Aug. 11 with the Russian master’s “Symphony No. 3,” and pianist Bruce Liu featured in “Piano Concerto No. 2.”

The violinist Gil Shaham will both solo and lead the Orchestra in the Aug. 16 concert of “Violin Concerto No. 9 in G Major, Op. 8” of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, hailed as the Black Mozart; and Antonio Vivaldi’s familiar “The Four Seasons.” 

Shaham’s fellow superstar, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, also returns to SPAC: Aug. 17, in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5” and Antonin Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto.” 

The Philadelphians’ schedule also features works of Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn and Schubert; in pieces ranging from the intimacy of Vivaldi to the expansiveness of “Symphony No. 9” – rightly dubbed “The Great” – and the exuberance of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7.”

Both New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra evening concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. while NYC Ballet matinees begin at 2 p.m. 

As a special season-opening event, “NYCB On and Off Stage” on July 18 presents behind-the-curtain onstage access introducing the week’s ballets with excerpts and demonstrations, followed by a dance party in the Hall of Springs.

Tickets go on sale on February 14 at 10 a.m. to members (tiered by level) and on February 23 at 10 a.m. to the general public. www.spac,org.

SPAC had previously announced its 2023 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival June 24 and 25, while LiveNation has announced more than a dozen pop, rock, country and kids-music performances this summer into the fall.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s Classical Seasons:


NYCB On and Off Stage


NYCB dancers host a unique “behind the curtain” experience featuring excerpts from the week’s ballets. A compelling evening for newcomers and aficionados alike. Immediately following the program is a celebratory “dance party” in the Hall of Springs.

SPAC Premieres



Scherzo Fantastique                                       (Stravinsky/Peck)

Play Time*                                                          (Knowles/Reisen)

Liturgy*           (Pärt/Wheeldon)

Love Letter (on shuffle)*                                 (Blake/Abraham)

Peck & Copland



Copland Dance Episodes*                             (Copland/Peck)

Swan Lake, Fancy Free & Firebird

FRIDAY, JULY 21 @ 7:30PM


 Swan Lake                                                           (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)

Fancy Free                                                           (Bernstein/Robbins)

Firebird                                                                 (Stravinsky/Balanchine & Robbins)

*indicates SPAC premiere


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2 @ 7:30PM: Festive Fireworks

Fabio Luisi, conductor

David Kim, violin

Tchaikovsky      Symphony No. 5

Tchaikovsky        Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky        1812 Overture

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3 @ 7:30PM: Schubert’s “Great” Symphony

Fabio Luisi, conductor

Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano

Mendelssohn      Piano Concerto No. 1

Schubert            Symphony No. 9 (“Great”)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4 @ 7:30PM: Pink Martini and The Philadelphia Orchestra, Featuring China Forbes

Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor

Pink Martini

Pink Martini, the self-described “little orchestra,” joins The Philadelphia Orchestra for a night of genre-crossing music from classical to jazz to vintage pop.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 @ 7:30PM: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert 

Justin Freer, conductor

Doyle    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ (complete with film)*

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns with HarryPotter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert, the fourth film in the series. The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform Patrick Doyle’s magical score, which won both the International Film Music Critics AWARD (IFMCA) and ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.

 WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s23)

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9 @ 7:30PM: Beethoven’s Seventh

Roderick Cox, conductor

Philippe Tondre, oboe

 Mozart                 Oboe Concerto

Beethoven         Symphony No. 7

THURSDAY, AUGUST 10 @ 7:30PM: An Evening with Audra McDonald

Andy Einhorn, conductor

Audra McDonald, vocalist

 Emmy-, Grammy-, and six-time Tony Award-winning icon Audra McDonald will join The Philadelphia Orchestra for a night of Broadway favorites featuring Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, and Stephen Sondheim, among others.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11 @ 7:30PM: Rachmaninoff at 150

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Bruce Liu, piano

 Rachmaninoff    Piano Concerto No. 2

Rachmaninoff    Symphony No. 3

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 @ 7:30PM: Blessed Earth

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

The Crossing

Donald Nally, artistic director

J.L. Adams         Vespers of the Blessed Earth*

Stravinsky         The Rite of Spring

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16 @ 7:30PM: The Four Seasons with Gil Shaham 

Gil Shaham, leader and violin

 Saint-Georges    Violin Concerto No. 9 in G Major, Op. 8. *

Vivaldi              The Four Seasons*

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17 @ 7:30PM: Yo-Yo Ma Plays Dvořák

Xian Zhang, conductor

Yo-Yo Ma, cello

Prokofief      Symphony No. 5

Dvořák             Cello Concerto

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18 @ 7:30PM: Earth: An HD Odyssey

 Bates                Philharmonia Fantastique*

Various             Earth: An HD Odyssey*

Featuring John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19 @ 7:30PM: Jurassic Park in Concert

Constantine Kitsopoulos, conductor

 Williams               Jurassic Park (complete with film)*

Jurassic Park is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. Licensed by Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

 *indicates SPAC premiere

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