Boscobel Returns to Live Performance

The Ember Ensemble

The Ember Ensemble, conducted by Deborah Simpkin King, is shown at a performance before the pandemic shutdown. (Photos by Dan Howell)

Choral group scheduled for Saturday

For the first time in 2020, music will soar through the grounds of Boscobel when the historic site plays host on Saturday (Sept. 26) to the Ember Ensemble, which performs choral music by living composers that has a socially relevant message.

It is the first live concert at the site since the shutdown began in March. Like many other venues, Boscobel curtailed its slate of performances, including the full season of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, because of social-distancing regulations due to COVID-19. Its gardens and grounds have been open since spring, with guided landscape and landmarks tours added this month and Ascend yoga classes on the lawn, but other events were put on hold. 

The Ember Ensemble, directed by Deborah Simkin King, will perform a program called Unfolding at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

“The ensemble approached us looking for a beautiful, outdoor performance site,” says Jennifer Carlquist, Boscobel’s executive director and curator. “All kinds of artists find inspiration in the site in all kinds of ways.” 

Deborah Simpkin King

Deborah Simpkin King, who directs the Ember Ensemble

The performance will include some of Ember’s best-received selections, including “Unclouded Day,” arranged by Shawn Kirchner; Fred Rogers’ “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” arranged by J. David Moore; “I Dream a World (after Langston Hughes),” by Dwight Bigler; and “A Million Dreams,” from The Greatest Showman.

Ember is the performing branch of the nonprofit Schola Cantorum on Hudson, which King founded. It typically performs only in Manhattan and northern New Jersey, drawing singers from 11 counties who must audition to join.

Masks and social distancing will be required, King says, and the singers will wear face coverings that allow them to perform but provide filtration of aerosolized saliva.

The decision to return to a live performance came after “months of research and discussions” about the progress of aerosol testing on singing. “All of us longed for the time when we could make ‘actual’ music together but no one wanted to return to live performance without documented evidence of what provides a safe and healthy experience for audiences and singers,” says King, who cited a study released in August by the International Coalition of Performing Arts as being particularly helpful in providing the most up-to-date recommendations.

Boscobel is located at 1601 Route 9D in Garrison. Tickets are $26 for adults or $16 for children and teenagers (children under 5 are admitted free). See boscobel.org/calendar.


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