Outdoor orchestral concert returns to Unitarian Universalist Congregation lawn

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Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock will host the 13th annual outdoor summer concert. (Photo courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock)

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock will host its 13th annual summer concert at 1 p.m. on Sunday, with a full orchestra performing three classic summer pieces under a tent on the lawn.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock music director and orchestra conductor Stephen Michael Smith

Shelter Rock music director and orchestra conductor Stephen Michael Smith started the full orchestra 12 years ago and said after last year’s larger-than-expected crowd, a larger tent will be set up this year, and a sound company will help project the music across the property, allowing people to wander while enjoying the concert.

“There will be lots of seating in the tent, but also there will be seating available on the lawn,” Smith said. “We have 100 acres, and the lawn is quite wonderful. People can take in the music and the natural beauty of the property.”

The concert will begin with “Cuban Overture” by George Gershwin, which Smith said has a driving Cuban beat and a danceable feel with lots of percussion and brass.

In the second section, Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” will be sung by soprano Jessica Sandidge. Smith said these are arguably his favorite works.

“In music, to my ears, Strauss creates the sounds of birds and the sound of the rustling wind,” Smith said. “My concept was to be able to do these outside where you actually have the birds singing and the rustling wind, which will just add to the beauty of these pieces because they really are about natural sound and beauty.”

The concert will end with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” including Variation No. 18 “Somewhere in Time,” which has been used in many movies.

Pianist Nathanial LaNasa, a Juilliard School alumnus, returns to perform the pieces. Smith said the light, summery piece was one of LaNasa’s favorite.

The concert is free to the public, and a $5 donation is suggested. A reception will be held after the concert behind the historic Veatch Mansion with watermelon, shortbread and lemonade, Smith said.

Reach reporter Amelia Camurati by email at acamurati@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 215, or follow her on Twitter @acamurati.

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