Hermitage 2022 STARs Announced

Five Florida public school arts teachers will spend part of their summer on Manasota Key while working on their own artistic endeavors. They are the winners of the 2022 State Teachers Artist Residency program (STARs) – now in its twelfth year – presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). This year’s recipients were selected from dozens of impressive applicants, and the five teachers selected from across the State of Florida include three visual arts educators, a band leader and music theory teacher, and for the first time in the STARs program, a dance instructor. The five receive a residency at the nationally renowned Hermitage Artist Retreat, where they can focus on their own work and craft as creative artists. These five teaching artists will present a hands-on, family-friendly showcase of their work on Friday, July 15 at 2pm. This special event will be held outdoors at the Hermitage’s beachfront campus on Manasota Key; entrance at 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL 34223. The program is presented in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. In addition to the students attending from the Boys & Girls Clubs, this Hermitage community program will be free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Due to capacity limitations and safety protocols, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

“These exceptional educators are also talented artists and creative minds in their own right,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “During the academic year, their attention is devoted entirely to their students, and this has been a particularly challenging time for educators throughout our nation. The STARs program offers five distinguished teachers from across the State of Florida the opportunity to experience what leading artists from around the world have come to the Hermitage for – to focus on their craft, their art, and their creative process. Over the years, the STARs have created some truly stunning works of art, music, theater, and literature during their time at the Hermitage. Many teaching artist alumni have shared that this program enables them to return to their students with a new fire and passion for arts education.”

The five recipients of this honor, selected among dozens of impressive applicants, include: Brooke Adkins, a dance instructor at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange; Charles Eady, a visual arts instructor at Belleview High School in Belleview; Jessie Leasure, an art instructor at D.S. Parrott Middle School in Brooksville; Jennifer Rodriguez, a ceramics instructor at the J.M. Tate Senior High School in Cantonment; and Zoe Stayman, a music instructor at the LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville. 

Florida arts educators apply for the Hermitage summer residencies through FAAE. Applications are open to all Florida music, theater, visual art, dance, and creative writing teachers. Since the start of the program in 2011, 57 teachers have represented nearly 30 Florida counties. These distinguished residencies culminate with a free community program, this year hosted in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. 

“We’re excited to be partnering with the Hermitage to offer this special opportunity to our incredible Club members,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. “The Hermitage aims to inspire creative minds to achieve their greatest potential, and we’re excited to share this special summer program with our BGCSDC youth and families.”

The STARs program is one of the only Hermitage residency programs open to application; arts educators from public schools throughout the State of Florida are eligible. For more information about the Hermitage STARs program and how to apply, Florida arts educators are encouraged to visit www.FAAE.org.

“We look forward to seeing what this latest group of STARs will create,” says Sandberg. “It is an honor to celebrate Florida’s leading arts educators, and we are grateful to the Florida Alliance for Arts Education for their continued partnership. We are also looking forward to collaborating for the first time with the Boys & Girls Clubs as we share the STARs talents with the members of our community and the next generation.”

Theater Maker and Director Shariffa Ali Is the 2022 Recipient of the $35,000 Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA)

This award will alter the course of my life; it is a true game changer.”
—Shariffa Ali, 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award Winner

Accomplished theater artist and director Shariffa Ali has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA). This national jury-selected prize, newly established by the Hermitage last year with generous support from the Kutya Major Foundation, offers one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country. Ali will receive a cash prize of $35,000, as well as a residency at the Hermitage (Sarasota County, Florida) and a developmental workshop in a major arts capital such as New York, Chicago, or London in the fall of 2023. Ali’s past theatrical productions as a director include Eclipsed, Detroit ’67, Intimate Apparel, We Are Proud to Present, and the original musical We Were Everywhere. She has worked as an arts administrator at The Public Theater and The New Group, and she has taught at New York University, Brooklyn College, Yale University, and Princeton University. She is the second recipient of the HMTA, which was first awarded in 2021 to playwright and filmmaker Radha Blank.

“It is surreal and the most gratifying and pleasant surprise to be honored in this way by artists whose work has been a compass in my own upbringing as a theater maker,” said Shariffa Ali on receiving the Hermitage Major Theater Award. “The fact that they support my art and wish to carve out space for myself and my collaborator Vuyo Sotashe with this project is a huge honor. It is extremely surprising, humbling, and life-affirming. This award will alter the course of my life; it is a true game changer.”

The Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) was established in 2021 to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. HMTA winners are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders in the field of theater. The 2022 HMTA Award Committee included Lynn Nottage, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and past Hermitage Fellow; David Henry Hwang, Tony, Grammy, and Obie Award winner; and Regina Taylor, Golden Globe Award-winning actress, director, playwright, educator, activist, and past Hermitage Fellow.

“It is thrilling to be able to uplift and support the work of Shariffa Ali, said 2022 HMTA Award Committee member Lynn Nottage. “She, like her fellow finalists Jonathan McCrory, Vanessa German, and José Rivera, is a groundbreaking artist whose work continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in inventive and inspiring ways.”

“Shariffa is a brave and brilliant theater maker – sensitive and bold in her craft, challenging and subversive in her choices,” added fellow juror Regina Taylor. “The Hermitage Major Theater Award is a change maker, and I’m excited about what Shariffa will create and share with us in this next year ahead.”

“I am thrilled to help give a groundbreaking artist the time and resources to bring their vision to life,” remarked David Henry Hwang. “All of our finalists are game-changing innovators, so this was a very tough decision. Ultimately, Shariffa’s idea proved clear, compelling, necessary, and irresistible. I hope to see all our finalists’ projects realized and am grateful to the Hermitage for giving each a residency so they can advance their work!”

Three distinguished finalists for the 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award include Vanessa German, a citizen artist working across sculpture, performance, communal rituals, immersive installation, and photography; Jonathan McCrory, an Obie Award-winning director and producer; and José Rivera, an Obie Award winner and Oscar-nominated writer. Each will receive a Hermitage residency, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000.

“Amidst these four brilliant finalists, Shariffa Ali revealed herself to be a passionate theater artist who impressed the 2022 Award Committee with her compelling and inspired vision,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “Shariffa proudly defines herself as a ‘theater maker,’ and the project she has proposed will allow to her to delve into her many talents as a creator, director, and storyteller. I must thank our extraordinary dream-team of an Award Committee – Lynn Nottage, David Henry Hwang, and Regina Taylor – for their thoughtfulness, leadership, and care throughout this process. I also want to congratulate Vanessa German, Jonathan McCrory, and José Rivera, each of whom are exceptional artists with bold voices and thrilling ideas. We are excited to welcome all four of these extraordinary talents into the Hermitage family.”

Born in Kenya and raised in South Africa, Shariffa Chelimo Ali is an international theater maker, creative leader, director, and educator committed to advancing radical change through the power of art and activism. In addition to her theater credits, Ali’s films have been featured at acclaimed film/VR festivals and institutions throughout the world, including Sundance Film Festival (USA); Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (South Africa); Brooklyn Film Festival (USA); Pan African Film Festival (USA); Electric Africa VR festival (South Africa) and DOK Neuland (Germany). In 2022, Ali was named the Elizabeth M. Swayzee Artist-in-Residence at Miami University, where she curated the inaugural Black Roots Festival in the spring of 2022. Ali has been a director and arts administrator at The Public Theater and The New Group, both in New York. She has directed and lectured at Yale University, NYU, Brooklyn College, and Princeton University, where she is currently a faculty member at the Lewis Center for the Arts. Shariffa.com 

In describing her intended HMTA commission, Ali writes: “Despite the homophobia and transphobia inherent in small-town South Africa, a middle school choir, their principal, and their parents make an agreement to disguise the town’s most talented and beloved singer Vuyo (he/they) as a girl in order to have him sing as a female soloist in a national choir competition. As Vuyo increasingly feels at home in this new role as a female soloist, they begin a journey that will see them come to reckon with identity, community, and finding a voice of truth.” Vuyo is a friend and collaborator of this year’s HMTA recipient, so Ali is particularly passionate about capturing the heart and soul of her friend’s true story through this commission. “It is my hope that Vuyo’s remarkable story and lessons of healing and forging community can be a healing force for us all.”

In addition to the $35,000 commission, the recipient of the annual HMTA will receive six weeks of residency at the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus to develop the new work, as well as a reading or workshop in a leading arts and cultural center. This year’s commission is expected to receive its development workshop in the fall of 2023. 

In the spirit of the Hermitage’s commitment to the arts across multiple disciplines, recipients of the Hermitage Major Theater Award are encouraged to create a commission that directly or indirectly represents the role and impact of art – musical, literary, theatrical, visual, or otherwise – in our culture and society. 

As to how this will infuse Ali’s commission, she explains that “we will witness how being part of an ensemble-based arts activity like a choir can alter the course of one’s destiny. Choirs serve as a place of belonging and community and provide people with opportunities to travel and grow in ways that one would not ordinarily be able to achieve. Through this true story, we learn how the arts can lead to discovery and adventure which ultimately lead to finding one’s voice.”

This distinguished Hermitage Major Theater Award recognition is not an award for an existing work, but rather it is designed as a commission that shall serve as a catalyst and inspiration to a theater artist to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. Further, the prize is intended to bridge the connection between the Hermitage and Sarasota County, where the commission is born, and other leading arts and culture centers around the world, including New York, London, Chicago, and other leading arts capitals where great theater is frequently developed and presented.

 “This award is designed to be transformational for its recipients, providing not only significant funds and recognition, but also invaluable time, space, and inspiration at the Hermitage, as well as an opportunity for these innovative theater artists to workshop and develop their original ideas,” said Andy Sandberg. An acclaimed director, writer, and Tony Award-winning producer, Sandberg took the helm as Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage in early 2020. “In addition to introducing a new work of theater to the American canon each year, this is an exciting opportunity for the Hermitage to take a further step in supporting the artistic process as we offer developmental resources to these extraordinary artists and their new commissions along their journey.” 

The Hermitage Major Theater Award is made possible with a generous multi-year gift to the Hermitage from Flora Major and the Kutya Major Foundation.

“Anyone who values and appreciates the arts, across all disciplines, needs to invest in supporting artists in the earliest stages of their creative process — this is what the Hermitage does so well,” remarked Flora Major, founder and trustee of the Kutya Major Foundation. “I am so excited by the Award Committee’s selection of Shariffa. She is a passionate shining star who I know will make us all proud, and we are truly honored to have had such incredible artists like David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, and Regina Taylor guiding this nomination and selection process,” added Major. “I hope this initiative will inspire others who are passionate about the arts to recognize and support the important work that the Hermitage is doing to support what is new and original at the true ground floor.”

The inaugural Hermitage Major Theater Award was presented in 2021 to theater artist and filmmaker Radha Blank, who received critical acclaim for her film The Forty-Year-Old Version, available on Netflix. Blank’s HMTA commission is currently in development with a workshop anticipated later this year in New York.

June Programs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces new community programs in June with Hermitage Fellows spanning music, visual art, and theater. These programs are presented at outdoor venues throughout Sarasota County as part of the Hermitage’s partnerships with local organizations, including Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the Van Wezel Foundation, and Art Center Sarasota.

First, the season’s final installment of the popular “Unscripted” series, “Sparking Creativity,” features Hermitage Fellow and theater-maker Nandita Shenoy in a virtual program on Thursday, June 2 at 5pm ET. Lauded playwright and actor Shenoy will offer insight into process and share examples of her work that have resulted from her creative journey. Prior to the program, registered attendees will be given a prompt so that audience members can try this process out for themselves. The interactive “Unscripted” series is presented in a collaboration with the Van Wezel Foundation, and previous “Unscripted” programs have featured Hermitage Fellows Claire Chase, Eric Booth, Reggie Harris, Ann Patterson, Christopher Theofanidis, Melissa Studdard, Patrick Harlin, Hannah Hasan, and most recently Daniel Gumbiner. Register here

Next, the Hermitage’s June programs continue with the previously announced “Soulful Strings: An Evening of Harp Music” with celebrated musician and composer Ashley Jackson. This is the inaugural event in the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage, made possible with a generous gift from the Ruby E. and Carole Crosby Foundation. “Soulful Strings” will be presented on Tuesday June 7 at 8pm at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Downtown). Register here.

Finally, the Hermitage will partner with Art Center Sarasota to present “Visual Art: New Ways of Seeing,” featuring Hermitage Fellows Aram Han Sifuentes and Amanda Williams (pictured), live on the Hermitage Beach. This event will take place at 6:30pm on Friday, June 17. Register here.

“The Hermitage’s June programming speaks to the expansive diversity and creative range of our renowned Hermitage Fellows, who are all brilliant talents in their respective musical and artistic fields,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “By continuing our programming into the summer months, we also want to celebrate and recognize that there is a growing year-round community of arts appreciators here in our Gulf Coast region.”

Hermitage programs like these are free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee.

Hermitage Launches Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Initiative

The new Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage launches with the premiere event, “Soulful Strings: An Evening of Harp Music,” on Tuesday, June 7 at 8pm at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, featuring acclaimed harpist and returning Hermitage Fellow Ashley JacksonThe outdoor event is free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. 

The Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage offers the opportunity for a distinguished Hermitage alumni composer or musician to return for additional residency time and a special community concert. This initiative is made possible by a generous multi-year gift from the Ruby E. and Carole Crosby Family Foundation. Hermitage Trustee Carole Crosby initiated this gift as a special tribute to her mother Ruby, who helped to inspire her deep love of music. Ashley Jackson is a particularly fitting Hermitage alumna to launch this new initiative, as Carole Crosby is a harpist herself, having graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music and played in both the Atlanta Symphony and Detroit Symphony.

“I am continually inspired by the Hermitage’s commitment to artists and the impact these magnificent talents are having in our community,” said Hermitage Trustee Carole Crosby. “Music was always incredibly important to me and to my mother, so it is an honor to celebrate her memory with this new initiative spotlighting and supporting some truly extraordinary composers and musicians.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Carole Crosby for this generous gift and her continued belief in the work we are doing,” added Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “As we look to reengage with and provide new opportunities for returning Hermitage alumni, this generous gift from Carole in honor of her mother allows us to celebrate some of the brilliant musical talents who have come to know Sarasota through their time at the Hermitage and to share their latest work with the members of our community.”

Praised for her “soulful” and “eloquent” playing (Musical America), Hermitage alumna and celebrated harpist Ashley Jackson enjoys a multifaceted career as a highly sought-after musician and collaborator in New York and beyond. As a soloist, she has performed at Lincoln Center, Celebrate Brooklyn!, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Qatar Philharmonic, and is a regular member of the Harlem Chamber Players. Jackson is currently working on her debut solo album Ennanga, an exploration of African-American spirituals and their influence on other forms of American musical expression. She is currently an Assistant Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Music Department at Hunter College. Jackson holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School, a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University. AshleyJacksonHarp.com

Ashley Jackson’s concert and Hermitage residency are made possible through the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage. 

Composer Angélica Negrón Celebrated at 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner

The fourteenth annual Hermitage Greenfield Prize (HGP) Dinner on April 10 celebrated composer, multi-instrumentalist, and 2022 HGP winner Angélica Negrón, featuring inspiring performances by Tony Award winner and Hermitage Fellow Gavin Creel, and Grammy Award-winning cellist Nick Photinos. The annual gala raised more than $200,000 in support of the Hermitage’s mission in addition to the Greenfield Foundation’s ongoing annual gift of $150,000. The festive “Celebration of Music” at Michael’s On East was chaired by Sondra Biller and Carole Crosby. Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg served as master of ceremonies and announced that EnsembleNewSRQ will be collaborating with the Hermitage as the presenting partner for Negrón’s commission in Sarasota in 2024, a composition that will be inspired and timed with the setting sun.

The evening opened with a video celebration of Puerto Rico’s musical legacy featuring a number of celebrated Puerto Rican musical artists, including Negrón, followed by a special video documenting fourteen years of Hermitage Greenfield Prize recipients, jurors, and presenting partners. Negrón, who was unable to attend in person because she had two commissioned works opening with the Seattle Symphony during the same weekend, delivered heartfelt and inspiring video messages to the audience. Broadway star Gavin Creel delighted the crowd with an original song from a show he’s been developing at the Hermitage called Walk on Through, a project commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that straddles the worlds of theater, music, and visual art – much like the Hermitage Greenfield Prize. He also performed songs by the late, great Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman, celebrating the impact of the arts in our lives. The warm sounds of Nick Photinos’ cello rendition of Negron’s work “Panorama” filled the room as images of the setting sun and rolling waves from the Hermitage Beach on Manasota Key played in the background. The evening also featured remarks from 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner Aleshea Harris and this year’s HGP jury chair and WQXR radio host Terrance McKnight.

“This was truly a night to remember,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “It was an honor to celebrate Angélica Negrón and her extraordinary talent, and we can’t wait to introduce her new composition to our Gulf Coast community. It was thrilling to hear live performances from Tony Award Winner Gavin Creel and Grammy Award Winner Nick Photinos at Michael’s On East, along with inspiring remarks from the brilliant Aleshea Harris and Terrance McKnight. We are so grateful to the Greenfield Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and all of our sponsors and donors for their generous support of our mission and the support of new work.”

 

May Programs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces four new community programs in May with Hermitage Fellows specializing in music, writing, multimedia, and theater, including an event with Tony Award-nominated playwright Bess Wohl (Grand Horizons, Small Mouth Sounds). Most of these programs are presented at outdoor venues throughout Sarasota County as part of the Hermitage’s partnerships with local organizations, including the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and Bookstore1.

“Sounding the Deep: Words and Music Inspired by Nature” features selections of award-winning playwright Jessica Huang’s work focused on the changing climate, as well as contemporary classical composer Scott Lee’s album Through the Mangrove Tunnels on Friday, May 6 at 6:30 pm on the Hermitage Beach.

Tony Award-nominated playwright Bess Wohl returns to Sarasota for a reading of selections of her work on Friday, May 13 at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach. Her play Grand Horizons recently concluded a run at Asolo Rep. 

On Friday, May 20 at 5pm, Hermitage Fellows DaMaris B. Hill and Kirya Traber (pictured) read and discuss their evocative work at “Hermitage Poet’s Corner: The Contemporary Word” at the new Bookstore1 location in Downtown Sarasota.

In “Worlds: A Part,” internationally renowned composer and performer Pauchi Sasaki and acclaimed poet Monica Youn share their words and music on Thursday, May 26 at 6pm at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s Bay Preserve in Osprey.

“The Hermitage’s May programming speaks to the expansive creative range of our Hermitage Fellows, who are all extraordinary talents in their respective artistic and literary fields,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are grateful for our continuing partnerships in the community with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and Bookstore1 to help introduce these acclaimed Hermitage Fellows to the local community.”

Hermitage programs like these are free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee.

“Music Around the World” with Award-Winning Musician Kavita Shah

Award-winning vocalist, composer, and educator Kavita Shah will present a free Hermitage community program, “Music Around the World,” at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art on Thursday, April 21 at 6pm. Shah will share stripped-down selections from her beautiful and transporting works set against the beautiful banyan trees on The Ringling’s magnificent grounds. A lifelong New Yorker of Indian origin hailed for possessing an “amazing dexterity for musical languages” (NPR), Shah incorporates her ethnographic research on Brazilian, West African, and Indian traditions into her original music. Notable projects include “Visions” (2014, co-produced by Lionel Loueke), “Folk Songs of Naboréa” (2017, premiered at the Park Avenue Armory), and “Interplay” (2018, in duo with François Moutin), which was nominated for France’s Victoires de la Musique for “Jazz Album of the Year.” 

Shah’s music “reflects the insatiably curious mind of an ethnographer, the soul of a poet, and the eye of a painter” (Owen McNally, NPR). Having traveled the world and performed throughout six continents, Shah’s music reflects each journey as it continuously explores new possibilities in music and sound.

This event is presented in partnership with The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Registration is required ($5/person registration fee). The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243.

2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Weekend – April 8-10 – Features Full Line-Up of Events

Events celebrating music and the Hermitage Greenfield Prize – April 8-10 – include a live conversation with acclaimed playwright and 2021 winner Aleshea Harris, a virtual talk with celebrated composer and 2022 recipient Angélica Negrón, and a live panel discussion with Hermitage Greenfield Prize Jurors Terrance McKnight (WXQR Radio) and Gary Padmore (New York Philharmonic), with Nate Jacobs (Founding Artistic Director of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe)

The 14th annual Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration Weekend culminates in the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner: “A Celebration of Music,” featuring a live performance of the work of 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize-Winning composer Angélica Negrón by Grammy Award-Winning cellist Nick Photinos, plus a special guest performance by Tony Award-Winning Hermitage Fellow Gavin Creel.

These events and the annual gala dinner are presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County serving as Lead Community Sponsor. Limited seats are available for this nearly sold-out gala dinner. Click here for tables and sponsorships or contact Development Director Amy Wallace at or Development@HermitageArtistRetreat.org or (941) 475-2098, Ext. 2 

This year’s weekend of events begins on Friday, April 8 with “A Theater Maker’s Year: What ‘Went Down’” (6pm at New College of Florida) with 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner Aleshea Harris. Then, on Saturday, April 9, the Hermitage presents two events, one virtual and one live: Angélica Negrón: The Journey, The Work, The Inspiration” (3pm, virtual event) features the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner, whose innovative music compositions have been described as “playful and inventive” by The New York Times. That evening, Hermitage Greenfield Prize Jurors Terrance McKnight, host of WQXR New York Public Radio, and Gary Padmore, Director of Education and Community Engagement at the New York Philharmonic, are joined by Sarasota’s own Nate Jacobs, Founder and Artistic Director of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, for a panel discussion entitled “Artistic License: Whose Story Is It?” (6pm on the Hermitage Beach). Click here to register.

National Water Dance with Sarasota Contemporary Dance on the Hermitage Beach

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD) are partnering for the biennial National Water Dance (NWD) event, with new work inspired by gratitude for water and the urgent need to preserve local water resources as part of this year’s NWD theme, “Dancing Out of Time,” on Saturday, April 23 at 3:30pm. Click here to register.

This performance by the SCD company of professional dancers on the Hermitage Beach (Manasota Key) will be broadcast simultaneously with performance groups from across the country and all around the world, with an introduction by Dr. Emily Heffernan, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New College of Florida.

“Sarasota Contemporary Dance is thrilled to partner with the Hermitage Artist Retreat on lands originally occupied by the Calusa people to perform in the National Water Dance awareness campaign,” said SCD Artistic Director Leymis Bolaños. “Partnering with National Water Dance and founder Dale Andree since the start of National Water Dance more than ten years ago, SCD is honored to continue this long-standing partnership to bring awareness to the socio-environmental issues concerning climate change and the sanctity of our waters.” 

“In addition to being a leading arts incubator for bold and original new works, the Hermitage is deeply committed to ecological preservation and restoration,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “To that end, we are honored that this new creative work from Sarasota Contemporary Dance has been inspired by our historic, beachfront campus on Manasota Key as we partner to raise awareness for National Water Dance. We look forward to sharing this performance with the local community and participating in National Water Dance to highlight the importance of preserving our ecological resources.” 

“Musical Storytelling” with Tony Award Winner Jeanine Tesori

Tony Award-winning stage and film composer Jeanine Tesori will present a free Hermitage community program, “Musical Storytelling: A Conversation with Jeanine Tesori,” at the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Friday, March 25 at 6pm. 

Click here to register for upcoming Hermitage programs.

Tesori has written four Tony Award-nominated scores for Broadway, including Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center); Thoroughly Modern Millie; Caroline, or Change; and Shrek the Musical. She won a Tony Award for Fun Home and recently served as supervising vocal producer on Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of West Side Story

Her newest musical, Kimberly Akimbo, opened to critical acclaim Off-Broadway earlier this season and has just announced that it will be transferring to Broadway this fall. She has also twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, for her musicals Fun Home (written with Lisa Kron) and Soft Power (written with David Henry Hwang).

“We are honored to welcome Jeanine Tesori to host this special program for our Gulf Coast community,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg, who will be moderating the conversation. “I had a ‘very Tesori weekend’ when I last returned to New York, seeing a matinee of her beautiful musical Kimberly Akimbo, followed by an evening screening of West Side Story. Jeanine is one of the most influential theater artists of our time. She is a brilliant composer, passionate theater-maker, and inspiring educator with a list of impressive accolades throughout her career. This promises to be an exciting conversation on the Hermitage Beach and an exciting opportunity for the members of our community to meet one of the true musical theater greats.”

Winner of the Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie Awards, and a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Tesori has also composed the music for The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Brecht’s Mother Courage, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, as well as the film adaptation of Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. Her opera commissions include Met/LCT Opera/Theater and Glimmerglass Opera. She is on the council of the Dramatists Guild and teaches musical theater composition at Yale University. She has collaborated with numerous previous Hermitage Fellows throughout her distinguished career.

Jeanine Tesori’s Hermitage Residency is generously sponsored by Carole Crosby & Larry Wickless.