KATONAH, N.Y. — Saturday is opening day for the 67th summer season of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah. It is also Michael Barrett's final opening day as the center's chief executive and general director. At the end of the season, after 10 years of festivals, Barrett will step down from the position.
This summer's 2012 Caramoor International Music Festival, held at the garden estate on Girdle Ridge Road, opens on the evening of June 23 with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Roberto Abbado.
The orchestra, Caramoor’s resident ensemble, will play selections from Mendelssohn’s incidental music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Broadway, television and film star Bebe Neuwirth will read excerpts of Shakespeare’s play to illustrate the piece.
The evening of Mendelssohn continues with Abbado directing violinist Gil Shaham in the composer’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.
Caramoor’s summerlong festival offers an eclectic variety of musical styles, hosting artists from the worlds of classical, Latin, American roots and jazz music.
“We‘ve created a nice place for people to put their toe in the water and try a kind of music they might not be used to and have a great experience,” said Barrett, who will relinquish his administrative duties but continue on at Caramoor as a conductor and pianist.
This year's season includes the American Roots Music Festival on June 30, which will feature the David Bromberg Quartet and Hot Tuna, and the Jazz Festival on July 28 and 29, featuring the Roy Haynes Foundation of Youth Band.
Although the core of Caramoor is still classical music and opera, Barrett said he is most proud of making the venue a more inclusive and family friendly place while expanding and improving its music programs.
This year's festival will feature many unique events, with a Renaissance Day and a Bhangra night, part of the center’s Dancing at Dusk program. In August, Caramoor will hold its first Gospel Sunday.
Patrons are encouraged to pack picnic baskets and arrive early to explore the 90-acre former private estate, which includes elaborate gardens, a Spanish courtyard and Italian architecture.
“This is the best part about the summer: live music and being outside in a beautiful, beautiful place,” Barrett said.
Tickets are available for the festival, which runs to Aug. 8, at the box office at 914-232-1252 or at Caramoor’s website, which also has a full performance schedule.