Shelter Rock Orchestra to celebrate water at annual concert

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On Sunday, Aug. 4, the annual Summer Concert of the Orchestra at Shelter Rock will make its return to Manhasset, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock announced this week.

Stephen Michael Smith will lead the 60-piece orchestra as the music director and conductor for the performance for the 13th year. Smith started the summer orchestra back in 2006 as an outlet for those who still wished to perform in the summer months.

“The summer allows more time to practice and learn pieces that are more difficult,” said Smith. “In the summer, I tend to choose pieces that are more challenging, more complicated to learn.”

Those complicated pieces will include the compositions “La Mer” from Claude Debussy, “Sea Interludes” from Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes,” and the song cycle “Sea Pictures, Op 37” by Edward Elgar.

“All of the pieces are based on water,” said Smith. “We are going to have projections of the sea and water images during the concert. I’ve been around water my whole life, living in California, being in Hawaii, or just at my grandpa’s lake house. These pieces will be a visual and musical representation of nature”

On hand for this year’s concert will be mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. Gaissert will join the ensemble during the Elgar pieces.

“She’s extraordinary,” said Smith about Gaissert. “I’ve worked with her before and she’s always wanted to perform the Elgar pieces. The pieces are evocative ones, so combined they will conjure up both sounds and visuals of the sea.”

Continuing with the theme of water, which has been considered a source of inspiration and art since earlier civilizations, the UUCSR hopes to raise awareness on issues regarding water quality with the help of four local not-for-profit organizations: Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, Save the Sound and The Nature Conservancy. All four of the organizations will be at the show to inform the audience on its efforts to protect Long Island’s water quality.

“We want people to be aware about the issues surrounding the quality of water,” Smith said. “Being on Long Island, surrounded by water, having these organizations on hand brings things full circle. The organizations will be distributing its literature to raise awareness of these issues, which is critical given the changing environment.”

The concert begins at 1 p.m. in the Worship Hall in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, located at 48 Shelter Rock Road in Manhasset. The concert will be held indoors and will be air conditioned. Concertgoers will also have the option of enjoying the beautiful landscape surrounding the area, as the concert will be simultaneously broadcast outside for those choosing to listen as they take in the nature. Following the concert, a reception will be held to greet the artists on the grounds of Veatch House, which is a former Gold Coast mansion.

The concert and reception are both free, but donations are welcome. No tickets are required to attend the event. For more information on the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, the concert, and driving directions, visit www.uucsr.org. To learn more about Stephen Michael Smith, view his website, www.stephenmichaelsmith.com.

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