As The Saratogian newspaper points out, this year's opening concert, and the Saratoga residency as a whole, are a bit unusual. The Philadelphia Orchestra begins a European summer festival tour, its first in a decade, on August 24. (The orchestra generally visits Europe in May, shortly after the end of its regular concert season in Philadelphia.)
Consequently, the orchestra is launching its Saratoga season earlier than usual, only a few days after its predecessor at SPAC, the New York City Ballet, has finished its season there. (Most years, there is a gap of about 10 days.) Charles Dutoit, the Philadelphia Orchestra's principal conductor and artistic director for the Saratoga residency, would normally conduct opening night, but he is in China fulfilling a previous commitment at the Canton International Summer Music Academy in Foshan.
According to The Saratogian, because Dutoit will miss the entire first week of the run, SPAC moved both its pops programs to that week. Erich Kunzel will conduct a "Hollywood Fantasy Family Night" tomorrow evening, and Marvin Hamlisch will lead "A Gershwin Celebration" on Saturday, July 29.
Among other notable Philadelphia Orchestra performances at SPAC this year are pianist Jonathan Biss and Fr‹hbeck de Burgos in a concert of Beethoven and Wagner this Friday (July 28); two programs with pianist Yefim Bronfman, one of Mozart (August 1) and the other featuring Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto (August 3); a "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" with Dutoit and the brothers Capu‹on, violinist Renaud and cellist Gautier (August 4); Yo-Yo Ma in Dvoršk's Cello Concerto and Dutoit conducting Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15 (August 9); Philadelphia Orchestra music director Christoph Eschenbach, in his Saratoga debut, leading Beethoven's First and Seventh Symphonies Nos. 1 and Matthias Pintscher's H_rodiade Fragments with soprano Marisol Montalvo (August 11); and the season finale, featuring Dutoit conducting the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition and Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (August 12).
Complete details are available at www.spac.org.