Here, we honor the late conductor and music director of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and highlight some local arts happenings.
In Memoriam: Randall Craig Fleischer (1958-2020)
One thing was immediately clear to me about Randall Craig Fleischer when I interviewed him for Chronogram in October 2016: His fervor for music, of any discipline. “I’m a big rock ’n’ roll fan, and I always tell people who haven’t attended a symphonic concert that I feel the same rush hearing this music performed as I do when I see U2 or Santana or any big rock band,” he told me. “There’s nothing like the feeling of hearing and seeing [symphonic music] played live by a group of 75 people in a hall…It’s incredibly powerful. It’ll make your spine tingle and put a knot in your heart.”
From his perch on the podium, baton in hand, Fleischer, who passed away at his home in Los Angeles on August 19 at age 61, made many a spine tingle and knotted many a heart during his years as the music director of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Anchorage Symphony, and the Youngstown Symphony orchestras. He studied with Leonard Bernstein and served as the assistant and associate conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, making his conducting debut with the New York City Opera in 1995. A composer as well as an ensemble leader, Fleischer was known for his genre-fusing collaborations with rock and pop artists like Blondie, Doors drummer John Densmore, John Cale, Kenny Rogers, and local resident Natalie Merchant. With his wife, comedian Heide Joyce, Fleischer cowrote music for children that included several rap pieces for orchestra and the civil rights-themed “Martin Luther King: A Spiritual Journey,” which aired on PBS in 1995 and featured narration by King’s daughter, Yolanda King. We at Chronogram extend our deepest condolences to Fleischer’s family and friends and to all of the musicians and Bardavon staff members who worked with him.
The Hudson Eye | 8/28-9/10
The Hudson Eye Festival, curated by Aaron Levi Garvey, returns to the waterfront city for its second year on August 28. Running through September 7, the festival brings together music, performance art, installations, and a self-guided tour of Hudson's street art. In addition to nightly shows and exhibitions, there will also be Hot Topics panel discussions featuring artists with a connection to Hudson.
Organized by Kingston artist residency and creative space Stoneleaf Retreat, Upstate Art Weekend, which takes place on August 29 and 30, is a self-guided event that brings together attractions at nearly 20 arts organizations and sites between Garrison and Hudson. Among the diverse groups and facilities participating with special attractions during the two-day affair are Art OMI sculpture and architecture park (Ghent), Olana (Hudson), Storm King Art Center (New Windsor), Magazzino Italian Art (Cold Spring), PS21 (Chatham), Dia: Beacon (Beacon), Hasbrouck House (Stone Ridge), the Hudson Eye Festival (Hudson), Manitoga/the Russell Wright Design Center (Garrison), D-Day (Woodstock), and Foreland (Catskill). See website for a complete list of exhibits, events, and schedules.
On August 29, North Adams, Massachusetts, art center Mass MoCA welcomes rising New York Huck (aka singer-songwriter John Wolfe) for two outdoor performances in its Courtyard D. The first set, at 7:30pm, sold out quickly, but limited tickets for a 9:30pm performance went on sale late last week. With his sunny, soulful, and laid-back pop-funk, the Brooklyn-born Huck hit the Spotify’s Viral 50 in short order by way of his 2018 debut single, “Without You.” All concert attendees are required to wear masks and are asked to bring their own chairs for searing in designated, socially spaced areas. Snacks and drinks will be for sale on site. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.
Phoenicia Festival of the Voice Presents Puccini at the Drive-In | 8/29
Since its inception 11 years ago, when it first brought world-class opera to the upstate outdoors, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice has been innovating. So it should come as no surprise that festival director Maria Todaro took the constraints of COVID as a creative prompt. Head to the region’s first ever drive-in opera at Tech City this Saturday 8/29 for a live performance of Puccini’s “Tosca” from the comfort (and safety) of your own vehicle. Tickets range from $50-$350 car based on distance to the stage. Buy tickets online ahead of time to reserve your space.
While this summer its concert season has been dashed by the realities of COVID, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, has thankfully been able to adjust procedures to be able to hold its annual Harvest Festival for 2020. The festival, which opens August 30 and takes place Sundays from 11am-4pm through October 11 at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, features a market comprised of selected local farmers, artisans, and other vendors, all spread out between five separated areas to maintain social distancing. The yearly live music, horse and buggy rides, and hay maze have been suspended this year, but the beloved corn maze will be open on a limited, private-party basis. The Bethel Woods Museum’s educational team will provide take-home art kits for kids. (September 6 promises an appearance by the Rosehaven llamas.) Admission is free; parking is $5. All attendees must wear a mask; cashless and exact-change transactions are encouraged; and while hand-sanitizer stations will be set up, patrons are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer as well.