Thursday, April 18, 2024

Festival of the Arts Boca Celebrates 10th Landmark Year

A rollicking revisit with Indiana Jones, a cerebral sit-down with a multicultural CNN anchor, and an English translation of a Mozart opera are among the highlights of Festival of the Arts Boca’s 10th anniversary event, which promises to be the most eclectic one yet.

Festival organizers Charlie Siemon and Wendy Larsen unveiled the (almost) full lineup earlier this month at an intimate shindig at Mizner Park Studio Theatre, offering gathered guests and city dignitaries a mouthwatering peek at next year’s special guests, who will descend on Mizner Park March 4-16, 2016.Tickets are available now for festival, including these headlining events and speakers.

March 4, 7:30 p.m.: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with live orchestra

It’s hard to believe, but Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure landmark turns 35 in 2016. Re-experience the rolling boulder, airstrip fistfight and vortex of flame on the spectacular big screen where they belong, while Constantine Kitsopoulos conducts the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra through a performance of John Williams’ iconic score.

March 5, 7:30 p.m.: Mozart’s “Magic Flute”

“The Magic Flute” is currently the fourth-most-performed opera in the world, but chances are you’ve never seen a version quite like this one. The Festival’s very first foray into live opera honors Mozart’s wishes for the opera to be performed in the local language of the people, with Kitsopoulous penning this 90-minute English translation. International vocal superstars and local students alike will dramatize the composer’s operatic swan song about a smitten prince’s journey to rescue the Queen of the Night’s daughter.

March 6, 7 p.m.: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Speaking of royalty, Albert is one of the reigning kings of 20th century jazz. An abstract painter, philanthropist and record-industry executive, this generous polymath is a trumpet virtuoso responsible for nine Grammy Awards, 14 platinum albums and five No. 1 albums on the Billboard charts. At 80 years old, he is celebrating his 59th year in the music business in 2016. Lani Hall, Albert’s wife and an emotionally charged Latin vocalist in her own right, will join her husband and their three-piece band for a jazz set studded with Brazilian melodies and classics from the American songbook.

March 7, 7 p.m.: Fareed Zakaria

As the host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” this trusted news analyst has been forecasting the world’s directions since at least 1992, when he became the managing editor of Foreign Affairs. He has since been published by the most respected news outlets in the country, from The New York Times andNewsweek to Time and The Washington Post; his best-selling books, meanwhile, have touched on subjects such as American imperialism and liberal education. A “radical centrist” in an ideologically divided media, Zakaria will speak about “Global Trends & Hot Spots: The Next Security Crisis.”

March 8, 7 p.m.: Robert Sapolsky

When it came to learning about human behavior, this wild-haired biologist and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow decided to embed himself with our closest neighbors: primates. At 21, Sapolsky flew to Africa to join a troop of baboons, methodically charting their everyday behaviors. He returned every summer for the next 25 years to study the same baboons, and his resulting book, A Primate’s Memoir, combines humor with profound observations about the human (and ape) condition. This connection to the animal kingdom resounds through his other books as well, from Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers toMonkeyluv, and will likely factor into his Festival discussion: “The Biology of Good and Evil.”

March 11, 7:30 p.m.: Joey Alexander

At 12 years old, this Indonesian jazz prodigy has already enjoyed a career of which most aspiring musicians can only dream: performing in front of Bill Clinton and Herbie Hancock, beating out more than 200 jazz professionals in an international improvisation contest in Ukraine, playing star-studded galas at Lincoln Center and the Apollo. Born with an intuitive ability that’s impossible to teach, Alexander has been tinkling the ivories since age 6, when he managed to perfect Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” by ear, from listening to his father’s jazz records. Alexander will support his debut album “My Favorite Things,” with a little help from the Symphonia Boca Raton.

March 12, 7:30 p.m.: Cirque de la Symphonie

Back by popular demand, this combination of cirque spectacular and bravura orchestral performance dazzled Festival audiences in 2014. Kitsopoulus will guide the Symphonia Boca Raton through rousing favorites from the classical and popular repertoires while aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen will supply the Mizner Park Amphitheater with gravity-defying derring-do, extraordinary feats of strength, physical comedy and more.

March 16, 7 p.m.: Joshua Bell and “The Four Seasons”

Unusually, the Festival will close on a Wednesday—as opposed to a Sunday—this year, to accommodate the busy schedule of its final headliner, violin superstar Joshua Bell. One of the very first virtuosi to take a chance on the Festival in its early years, Bell is a fitting closer for its 10th anniversary fest. With more than 40 CDs and countless television appearances to his credit, this “musician’s musician” is well poised to tackle Vivaldi’s epochal masterwork. This once-in-a-lifetime performance of “The Four Seasons” will also feature Jan McArt, the “First Lady of South Florida Theatre,” who will recite the composition’s accompanying poems, which explain what the music is intended to invoke.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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