Just as art explores the edges, ever-pushing forward in expression and understanding, so too does the Westport Arts Center. Each season it endeavors to introduce new programs and exhibits that raise the bar. And just when you think they can’t do any better, they do.
Take, for example, its renewed music program. The 2017-18 Concert Series, which kicks off in September, is a combination of the previous jazz and chamber music programs, but now elevated into one with fresh and bold music choices—and impressive talent. To emphasize the new stature of the program, the performances have been moved to the week’s prime time: Saturday evenings.
The program is now under the supervision of Westport native Alexander Platt, who will serve at artistic music director. Platt, who has served as the music director of orchestras around the country, will share his perspective and insights at each of the performances. To understand the importance of the changes to WAC’s music series, one must better understand the gold it has pocketed in its new curator.
A 1983 graduate of Staples High School, Mr. Platt enjoys a career that spans symphony, chamber music and opera. He started out as a Younger Scholars Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and graduated Yale College with its highest arts prize. His talent was recognized early on, even abroad; while at King’s College Cambridge, he made his professional debut at the Aldeburgh Festival and was the first American to serve as assistant conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society. In America, he is known far and wide in music circles. For example, he conducted fellowships at both Aspen and Tanglewood and was chief conductor of the Racine Symphony, the Boca Roton Symphonia, the Minnesota Philharmonic and the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra in Indiana. He is the Music Director of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Philharmonic and the Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, New York, which recently celebrated its centennial as the oldest summer chamber music festival in America. Additionally, he continues to guest conduct orchestras around the world.
“Westport has always been a beacon for the best and most-sought after musicians, and I am thrilled to return home to my roots to present this amazing roster of performers,” says the part-time Westport resident. “I look forward to reengaging with Westport’s enthusiastic performing arts audiences and to bringing my experiences back to the community.”
Part of the experience is bringing together talent. Along with curating the new season, he will build a consortium of local music organizations, such as Beechwood Arts and Suzuki School of Music, to collaborate on programs.
Under the direction of such an accomplished director, music lovers should expect the most exciting season yet. The first performance is September 23; tickets are on sale now at 51 Riverside Ave. and westportartscenter.org.
5 Performances to Add to Your Calendar
Anthony de Mare, the international pianist renowned for his explorations forging the worlds of classical and Broadway / “LIAISONS: Re-Imagining Sondheim at the Piano” Sat. 9/23/17, 7 p.m.
Igor Pikayzen, Westport resident and prize-winning young virtuoso violinist Fri. 11/3/17, 7:30 p.m.
Julliard String Quartet, one of America’s pre-eminent string quartets / Beethoven masterworks and Scottish composer James MacMillan Sat. 1/20/18, 8 p.m.
The Calidore String Quartet, one of the most exciting of the younger string quartets / masterpieces of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich, and Caroline Shaw Fri. 3/2/18, 7:30 p.m.
Simon Mulligan, with The Simon Mulligan Trio, London/New York pianist / from Mozart, Barber and Chopin to the George Gershwin Songbook Fri. 5/11/18, 7:30 p.m.