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Free summer arts festivals on LI

Ann Hampton Callaway performs in concert on the

Ann Hampton Callaway performs in concert on the opening weekend of the 2016 Summer Arts Festival. Credit: Getty Images/Theo Wargo

The Huntington Arts Council begins its second half-century of free summer arts festivals with a concert Saturday night by cabaret artist Ann Hampton Callaway interpreting the Great American Songbook, followed Sunday by Delta folk-rock and American Indian roots singer Rita Coolidge.

John Chicherio, the council’s performing arts director, calls the opening weekend pair “divine divas in the most positive sense of the word.” The 51st annual festival, he says, “is the largest and most diverse of its kind on Long Island.”

The wide-ranging arts series includes three shows by Plaza Theatrical Productions, the Island’s leading touring company — “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” June 28; “All Shook Up,” featuring the music of Elvis Presley, July 9, and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Aug. 12 — plus “Sondheim on Sondheim,” Aug. 6, and a kids’ show, “Jack and the Beanstalk,” July 26, presented by the BroadHollow Theater Company.

Folk artists reign in the 11th anniversary Huntington festival within a festival, July 30 and 31, with storytelling poet and singer Slaid Cleaves, folk humorists-songwriters Christine Lavin and Don White, plus local artist Kirsten Maxwell. On Aug. 8, Jen Chapin visits the Chapin Rainbow Stage, named for her father, Harry.

For classical music and dance aficionados, O Sole Trio presents its “Pavarotti to Pop” concert, July 16, followed on July 29 by ETHEL, which bills itself as “the string quartet for now,” performing the world premiere of a piece by Shelter Island composer Bruce Wolosoff. Violin virtuoso Stephanie Chase, artistic director of the Music of the Spheres Society, plays on Aug. 4. Among the dance events are two Long Island Dance Consortium presentations featuring local professional modern and ballet troupes, July 7 and Aug. 10, plus flamenco and tango stomping by Sol y Sombre, July 1.

In the festival’s most anticipated happening, David Stewart Wiley, music director of the defunct Long Island Philharmonic, conducts musicians from the Philharmonic, now calling themselves the Concert Orchestra of Long Island, in an all-classical program, Aug. 13.

Stewart and his former Philharmonic musicians also perform under the stars at the annual free Philharmonic Concert in the Park, July 16, punctuated by fireworks.



The free Nassau County summer series at Lakeside Theatre in the park opens July 1 with the Springsteen tribute band Tramps Like Us. Other tributes are to Harry Chapin, July 18, and Elvis Presley and The Beatles, July 24. Plaza brings its “All Shook Up” road show from Huntington to East Meadow, July 11, before moving on to Glen Cove’s Morgan Park, July 24. “Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway” revue gets nostalgic for the Great White Way, Aug. 27.

Among the semiclassical offerings are Dean Karahalis and the Concert Pops, July 9, and the Nassau Pops, July 22.

The popular International Nights series continues with a celebration of Israeli-American music, culture and cuisine June 26; German-American July 5 and Polish-American July 8.  The series runs through Sept. 4. (The complete schedule is at



Morgan Park opens its free Summer Music Festival July 3 with a “Salute to America” performance by the Concert Pops of Long Island and concludes with the second annual Morgan Park Folk Festival, a tribute to Peter, Paul and Mary featuring Gathering Time and three solo vocalists, Aug. 28.

Not all the summer celebrations of the arts are free. The Picnic Pops series at beautiful Old Westbury Gardens costs $10 (seniors $8, children free). The Wednesday evening series opens July 6 with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra. Next up is Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, July 13; Aurora Flores and Zon del Bario, July 20; Tamar Korn & A Kornucopia’s “Old-Fashioned Love,” July 27, and the Royal Roses jazz ensemble led by Aurora Nealand, Aug. 3. The series offers preconcert dance lessons so you can move gracefully with your partner on the lawn’s parquet dance floor during the concert.

CORRECTION:  An earlier version had an incorrect schedule for International Nights at Eisenhower Park.

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