Festival of the Arts 2020: Performers, Authors and Schedule

festival of the arts
Festival of the Arts Boca

The Festival of the Arts is returning to Mizner Park yet again to dazzle cultural connoisseurs in South Florida with another impressive lineup. This year’s slate includes renowned artists, musicians, and authors from all over the country and the world, and will bring Boca Raton’s flagship cultural event into the 2020’s with a bang. See below for the full schedule and artist bios, and visit festivalboca.org for tickets.

Schedule

FEB 28 FRIDAY, 7:30 PM Concert: Troupe Vertigo: Fusing elements of cirque acrobatics, classical dance and contemporary theater, Troupe Vertigo retells spellbinding tales of heroism—all accompanied by a live orchestra. Mizner Park Amphitheater

FEB 29 SATURDAY, 3 PM Authors & Ideas: The Moth Story Slam: This is an open-mic storytelling competition open to anyone with a five-minute story to share on the day’s theme. Come tell a story, or just enjoy the show! Cultural Arts Center

FEB 29 SATURDAY, 7:30 PM Concert: Beethoven Birthday Bash: Constantine Kitsopoulos conducts The Symphonia and guest artists The Eroica Trio as soloists in the composer’s “Triple” Concerto. Mizner Park Amphitheater

MARCH 1 SUNDAY, 7 PM Concert: Milos: Voice of the Guitar: Milos Karadaglic will be joined, in this performance, by a string quintet from the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University. Mizner Park Amphitheater

MARCH 2 MONDAY, 7 PM Authors & Ideas: Novelist Jesmyn Ward is the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for fiction, for her books Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Cultural Arts Center

MARCH 3 TUESDAY, 7 PM Authors & Ideas: Roz Chast: “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” The famed New Yorker cartoonist and esteemed chronicler of anxieties brings her dry wit, humor and cartoons to Boca. Cultural Arts Center

MARCH 4 WEDNESDAY, 7 PM Authors & Ideas: Psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos: “Psychology and the Good Life.” Santos will present a set of scientifically validated strategies for living a more satisfying life. Cultural Arts Center

MARCH 5 THURSDAY, 7 PM Authors & Ideas: Political analyst Amy Walter will be speaking with us two days after Super Tuesday. Mizner Park Amphitheater

MARCH 6 FRIDAY, 7:30 PM Film with Live Orchestra: The Empire Strikes Back is a deeper take than “A New Hope,” and has one of the most iconic moments (and scores) in cinema history. Constantine Kitsopoulos conducts The Symphonia. Mizner Park Amphitheater

MARCH 7 SATURDAY, 7:30 PM Concert: Nu Deco Ensemble returns to the Festival after its electrifying debut last year. Mizner Park Amphitheater

MARCH 8 SUNDAY, 7 PM Concert: Postmodern Jukebox plays today’s hits in vintage style. If you enjoyed Pink Martini, you will be delighted by Postmodern Jukebox! Mizner Park Amphitheater

Live Performers

Nu Deco Ensemble

Based in Miami, Nu Deco Ensemble is a virtuosic and eclectic chamber orchestra designed for the 21st century. Through exciting and adventurous classical music performances, Nu Deco Ensemble presents various styles of music, art and media collaborations in both traditional and alternative venues.

Working in conjunction with local musicians, composers, DJs, dancers, visual and media artists, Nu Deco Ensemble creates a new hybrid of compelling musical and multimedia experiences.Blending masterful musicianship with a wide range of repertoire from classical to pop, Nu Deco Ensemble strives to be South Florida’s leader in genre-bending musical exploration.

Nu Deco Ensemble cultivates the education and development of tomorrow’s artists through digital and interactive educational performances, young composer readings and musician workshops, as well as master classes and competitions for youth. Through outreach, Nu Deco Ensemble aims to engage the community and present concerts for free to Miami’s multicultural neighborhoods where exposure to live classical performance may be limited. With goals of creating and reaching new and diverse audiences, as well as providing inspiration to young people, Nu Deco Ensemble strives to enrich the arts scene of Miami in a dramatic and sophisticated fashion.

Constantine Kitsopoulos

Constantine Kitsopoulos, Festival Boca’s music director, has made a name for himself as a conductor whose musical experiences comfortably span the worlds of opera and symphony, where he conducts in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Royal Albert Hall, and musical theater, where he can be found leading orchestras on Broadway. Kitsopoulos is also general director of Chatham Opera and general director of the New York Grand Opera, and is working with the company to bring opera, free and open to the public, back to New York’s Central Park. During the 2019-20 season Maestro Kitsopoulos will conduct return engagements with the Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Toronto Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Indiana University.

Highlights of the 2018-19 season included return engagements with the Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Louisiana Philharmonic. Kitsopoulos also conducted Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at Indiana University Opera Theatre. Debuts included engagements with the Seattle Symphony and Phoenix Symphony.

Troupe Vertigo

Fusing elements of cirque acrobatics, classical dance and contemporary theatre, Troupe Vertigo brings audiences on a spellbinding journey through the world of artistic movement. Consisting of world class aerial artists, contortionists and ballet dancers, the Los Angeles-based company was founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Aloysia Gavre, formerly of the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil, and Technical Director Rex Camphuis, whose background is with the fabled Pickle Family Circus. Troupe Vertigo, whose “dizzying acts defy gravity and leave its lucky audiences in awe” (Los Angeles Times) has performed with major orchestras across North America.

Troupe Vertigo’s 2019-2020 season includes performances with the Evansville Philharmonic, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Naples Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Des Moines Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.

The ensemble premiered its first offering, “Big Top for a New Generation,” in 2010 at the Ford Amphitheater and has gone on to present “Nighthawks: A Film Noir Circus,” inspired by American jazz, Edward Hopper paintings and crime novels. In 2016, it premiered “Tableaux,” featuring five women grappling with the constrictions of society, at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. Husband-and-wife team Aloysia and Rex frequently bring their gifts and knowledge to the film and television industry, most notably with Rebel Wilson’s aerial performance in “Pitch Perfect 2” and with Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz in “Water for Elephants.”

Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back

“The Empire Strikes Back” is the most critically acclaimed film in the Star Wars franchise. It is also widely regarded as one of the most important films ever: It ranked number 3 on Empire’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.

The action picks up three years after the first film, “A New Hope,” as Darth Vader and the Emperor pursue Luke Skywalker’s friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa and others—across the galaxy. Luke, meanwhile, is studying the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. When Vader captures Luke’s friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a Jedi Knight, or to confront Vader and save them.

A film that literally defines the words heroic and epic, “The Empire Strikes Back” could not be more enjoyable than when viewed outdoors, on a warm spring evening, with The Symphonia (conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos) playing out the score live before a massive 130-LCD screen. It promises to be a magical evening filled with light sabers, Jedi, Jabba the Hut and, of course, Yoda.

Miloš Karadaglić

“Love at first listen” is how Miloš describes the moment when, as a child in Montenegro, he first picked up the old guitar that was lying around his childhood home gathering dust. Montenegro in the early 1990s was not an obvious gateway to future classical success when the 14-year-old decided to go to a specialist music school in London rather than a grammar school. Fast forward to 2010, when Miloš signed his first record deal with the classical label Deutsche Grammophon, and before long, he was performing sell-out concerts as a soloist with international orchestras and in recitals. He appeared in some of the most important concert halls and at major festivals around the world, while continuously topping music charts with his best-selling recordings. One of the highlights of that period was his solo guitar recital at the Royal Albert Hall to a full house, which was much lauded by the critics.

Miloš’ early albums were hugely successful, while his 2014 recording of Rodrigo’s concertos with the London Philharmonic and Yannick Nezet-Seguin had the Sunday Times calling him “The King of Aranjuez.” However, his career was almost dramatically cut short when, at his peak, he was struck down by a hand injury which left him unable to play. Thankfully, in August 2018, fully recovered and mentally as well as physically stronger, Miloš made a triumphant return to the stage. In autumn 2019, he released his fifth album, Sound of Silence.

Postmodern Jukebox

Postmodern Jukebox, also widely known by the acronym PMJ, is a rotating musical collective founded by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee in 2011, when he began shooting videos with friends from college in his basement apartment in Astoria. PMJ is known for reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, especially early 20th century forms such as swing and jazz. Postmodern Jukebox has amassed over 1.2 billion YouTube views and 4 million subscribers.

Each week, Postmodern Jukebox releases a new video on YouTube. Although originally, most were filmed casually in Bradlee’s living room, sets became more elaborate over time. The band has covered songs by artists ranging from Lady Gaga and the Strokes to Katy Perry and the White Stripes. Since their beginnings as a small group of friends making music in a basement in Queens, New York, Postmodern Jukebox has gone on to feature 70 different performers and tour six continents.

Eroica Trio

Erika Nickrenz, piano | Sara Parkins, violin | Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello

The most sought-after trio in the world, the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio enraptures audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. The three women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The New York Times writes, “There is an edge-of-the-seat intensity to every note they produce.”

The Trio won the prestigious Naumburg Award, resulting in a highly successful Lincoln Center debut, and has since toured the United States, Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. While maintaining their demanding concert schedule, the Eroica Trio has released eight critically lauded recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering them multiple Grammy nominations. The first all-female chamber ensemble to reach the top echelon of the field, the women of the Eroica Trio have shattered the age-old gender barrier, leading the vanguard and inspiring many to follow.

Whether the Eroica Trio is interpreting the Baroque masters, the power and strength of Beethoven, the jazzy tunes of Schoenfield or the bluegrass toe-tapping rhythms of Mark O’Connor, their performances are deeply personal and continue to thrill audiences around the world. To quote the San Francisco Examiner, “It has been decades since this country has produced a chamber music organization with this much passion…”

The Moth

The Moth is dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It was founded in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to re-create the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales. Green and his original group of storytellers called themselves “The Moths,” and Green took the name with him to New York.

The nonprofit organization now runs over 500 different storytelling programs a year in more than 25 U.S. cities and four international cities, offering the unique perspectives of both average, everyday people, and literary or cultural personalities. The Moth offers a weekly podcast, and in 2009 launched a national public radio show, The Moth Radio Hour.

The organization also hosts Moth StorySLAM events—open-mic storytelling competitions open to everyone in the audience. Ten participants are chosen at random from a pool of volunteer storytellers to tell a true story (without notes) in the five-to-six-minute range. Storytellers are scored based on the content of their stories, and their storytelling abilities, by three teams of judges—selected from audience members—on a scale from one to ten. The storyteller with the highest score wins the StorySLAM.

Authors & Ideas

Amy Walter

For more than 20 years, Amy Walter has built a reputation as an accurate, objective and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision-makers. Known as one of the best political journalists covering Washington, she is national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and a frequent on-air analyst. In addition to her weekly appearance on the popular “Politics Monday” segment on the PBS NewsHour, Amy also hosts WNYC’s nationally syndicated public radio news program, “Politics with Amy Walter” on The Takeaway. She is also a regular Sunday panelist on NBC’s “Meet the Press “and CBS’s “Face The Nation,” and appears frequently on “Special Report with Bret Baier “on FOX. She is the former political director of ABC News.

In her presentations, Walter expertly breaks down the electoral process, congressional culture and the Washington political scene, creating a witty and compelling presentation. Her reliable and accurate analysis has earned her numerous accolades.

Jesmyn Ward

The writer Jesmyn Ward (USA), New York, New York, March 29, 2017. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan mail@beowulfsheehan.com

MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir and nonfiction. Betsy Burton of the American Booksellers Association has called her “the new Toni Morrison.” In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth and John Updike.

Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Ward was forced to evacuate her rapidly flooding home. Her writing is deeply informed by the trauma of Katrina, not to mention its unimaginable social and economic repercussions. Her novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award, as did her third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Laurie Santos

Psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos is an expert on human cognition, its origins and the evolutionary biases that influence our all-too-imperfect life choices. She is also knowledgeable in how behavioral change through positive psychology can lead to a happy and fulfilling life.

Currently the big project of Dr. Santos is to positively influence the culture of Yale University by teaching happiness and well-being. In her course, Psychology and the Good Life, Santos teaches her 1,200 students about behavioral change through positive psychology. Dr. Santos wants her students to be more grateful, procrastinate less and increase social connections. She believes that those positive habits will decrease mental health issues on campus and create happier and more motivated students.

Dr. Santos obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University. Her numerous awards for science, teaching and mentorship include the Stanton Prize from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology for outstanding contributions to interdisciplinary research.

Roz Chast

Since joining The New Yorker in 1978, Roz Chast has established herself as one of our greatest artistic chroniclers of the anxieties, superstitions, furies, insecurities and surreal imaginings of modern life. Her works are typically populated by hapless but relatively cheerful “everyfolk,” and she addresses the universal topics of guilt, aging, families, money, real estate and more. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, has called her “the magazine’s only certifiable genius.”

Chast is the author of more than a dozen books for adults, including Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (2014), a work that chronicles her relationship with her aging parents as they shift from independence to dependence. Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? is a New York Times 2014 Best Book of the Year, 2014 National Book Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize, and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for the best books of 2014. Roz Chast is also the author of numerous books for children.

This story is from the February 2020 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.