By Carina Livoti
The Huntington Summer Arts Festival kicks off its 50th season this weekend, marking half a century of community dedication to arts and entertainment.
“We’re doing some special things [to commemorate the anniversary]…one is our 50th Celebration Concert with the Chapin Family,” Huntington Arts Council Performing Arts Director John Chicherio said.
The Chapin Rainbow Stage will be rededicated to the Chapin family during the Family Celebration Concert on June 27, and the Huntington Arts Council will honor Sandy Chapin with an award for her outstanding service to Long Island arts and arts education through her work with the Journey program.
The family celebration is not the first concert of the season, however. The summer’s festivities begin with a performance from the Huntington Men’s Choir on June 25. The Men’s Choir is one of three groups that have participated in the Summer Arts Festival for the duration of its existence.
“The Huntington Men’s Choir, The Huntington Choral Society and The Huntington Community Band have all been with us for 50 years,” Chicherio said.
In addition to the stage rededication and award, there are a number of special events going on over the course of the summer in honor of the 50th anniversary.
On July 5, the Arts Council will be hosting “Coltrane Day” in collaboration with Coltrane House, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of “A Love Supreme,” which Chicherio sites as one of the most influential albums in the history of jazz, if not that of music in general.
The day will include a series of educational workshops in various kinds of music along with a pre-concert interview with Ravi Coltrane. Chicherio said he hoped that this would become an annual event.
“The Summer Arts Festival has come to sort of symbolize the role that Huntington plays on Long Island as an arts leader,” Chicherio said.
He added that the program features a wide variety of artists from the local level to more famous groups and world music performers.
A number of performers will be holding workshops or additional programs throughout the community before taking the stage at the Summer Arts Festival, including workshops at the Tri CYA and YMCA, performances at the Huntington Senior Center, and pre-show interviews.
“The Huntington Arts Council uses the festival as an outreach effort to the community…we sort of stretch the artist visits as much as possible for interested students [and community members],” Chicherio said.
Other performance highlights this season include Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, winners of the 2015 Grammy for Best Afro Latin Jazz Album, Tom Paxton, legendary folk performer for 50 years, and a great line-up of family performances, beginning with “SHREK” on June 30.
For more information, visit HuntingtonArts.org.