Finding Music on America’s River

Composer Eve Beglarian, first winner of the 2009 Greenfield Prize in Music, will present a public program at the Historic Asolo Theater on Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm. Beglarian will speak about her present projects, including the 2010 River Project when she kayaked down the Mississippi, blogging, composing music and photographing all along the way.

Composer Eve Beglarian, first winner of the 2009 Greenfield Prize in Music, will present a public program at the Historic Asolo Theater on Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm. Beglarian will speak about her present projects, including the 2010 River Project when she kayaked down the Mississippi, blogging, composing music and photographing all along the way. This unique journey inspired the chamber music Beglarian will present at her world premiere on Saturday, March 26th, being performed by members of the Sarasota Orchestra at Holley Hall. Reservations are suggested. A $5 ticket price covers the costs of the Historic Asolo. Call the theater box office at 941-360-7399.

Eve Beglarian is a very special artist and over the past two years, has become a very special friend of the Hermitage. Her musical compositions come from a very personal place and are unique and refreshing. We first met her when she received the Greenfield Prize in 2009. We grew to know her more when the New York Times wrote about her experiences on the river. From there we followed her blog, enjoyed having her join us as a Hermitage fellow and now we are getting ready to premiere her chamber music with members of our esteemed Orchestra. This presentation will be a great opportunity to meet and hear from one of the most imaginative new composers working today.

Beglarian will play some of her music as well as speak about her experiences on the Mississippi. Camping out, meeting the people, learning the stories in the small riverfront communities were compelling, life-changing experiences. Friends flew in to share her journey, new acquaintances reading the blog joined her along the way. Beglarian could not have predicted all that transpired. The music includes not only the joy and exuberance of the journey, but sounds of nature she encountered along the way. The character of the trip is expressed in the entire composition.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear one of America’s leading contemporary composers speak about her incredible journey, show images, and play some of the music it inspired.

To read the New York Times September 2, 2009 article about Eve’s Mississippi journey, click HERE.

And the Winner is: Playwright John Guare

Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 Greenfield Prize has been awarded this year in Drama to Playwright John Guare. The award will be presented at a Celebration dinner on Sunday, March 27th at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director of New York’s Public Theatre, will be the keynote speaker.

John Guare
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik
Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 Greenfield Prize has been awarded this year in Drama to Playwright John Guare. The award will be presented at a Celebration dinner on Sunday, March 27th at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director of New York’s Public Theatre, will be the keynote speaker.

“Our prestigious jury has done it again,” remarked , executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “John Guare is one of America’s great playwrights. We are thrilled that over the next two years, he will be working on a new play for American theaters that will be created at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and have its first public introduction in Sarasota in 2013.”

John Guare is an award-winning playwright well known to many regular theater-goers. Among his most recognized plays are Lydie Breeze; A Free Man of Color; Bosoms and Neglect; and The House of Blue Leaves, which won an Obie and NY Drama Critics Circle Award for the Best American Play of 1970-71 and four Tonys in its 1986 Lincoln Center revival. Six Degrees of Separation received the NY Drama Critics Circle Award in 1991 for its LCT production and the Olivier Best Play Award in 1993. Additionally, Guare wrote the lyrics and co-authored the book for the 1972 Tony-winning Best Musical, Two Gentlemen of Verona. His screenplay for Louis Malle’s Atlantic City earned him an Oscar nomination. In 2003 he won the PEN/Laura Pels Master Dramatist Award; in 2004, the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2005 the Obie for sustained excellence. He is a council member of the Dramatists Guild and co-editor of The Lincoln Center Theater Review.

The Greenfield Prize winner is selected each year by a panel of experts in the arts discipline for that year’s award, which rotates annually through three arts areas, drama, music, and an open “wild card” year. This year’s category was drama, making John Guare the second playwright to receive the Greenfield Prize. Guare was selected from a pool of over 30 playwrights, nominated by a prestigious jury, three voting and three non-voting. Voting jurors were Michael Bigelow Dixon, chair and current assistant professor of theater at Goucher College, former literary manager at the Guthrie Theatre and Actors Theatre of Louisville; Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco; and Eduardo Machado, playwright currently writing for HBO television, and past artistic director of INTAR in New York City. Non-voting members included Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Joni Greenfield, representing the Greenfield Foundation and Michael D. Edwards, producing artistic director of Asolo Rep.

“We are grateful to the Greenfield Foundation for making it possible to inspire new works of art from America’s most important artists,” Rodgers continued. “The Greenfield Prize is contributing to the artistic legacy of America at this time and will continue to contribute into the future. The Hermitage Artist Retreat is proud to play a central role in this process.”

The Greenfield Prize was established in 2009 by longtime Sarasota residents Bob and Louise Greenfield through the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation. The prize is a means by which a groundbreaking, enduring work of art will be created each year at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. The Prize consists of a $30,000 commission of an original work of art, a residency at the Hermitage, and a partnership with a professional arts organization to develop the work, and assistance in moving the work forward into the American arts world. A distinguished six-person panel consisting of some of the most highly respected authorities in American art select each Greenfield Prize recipient. Three voting members on each jury are joined by representatives of the producing partner, the Greenfield Foundation and the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Since its inception, past prize winners include playwright Craig Lucus, composer Eve Beglarian and visual artist Sanford Biggers.

Theater Icon Oskar Eustis to Speak at Greenfield Prize Celebration 2011

Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC.



Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC. This year’s presentation of the $30,000 Greenfield Prize will be in drama and be awarded to an American playwright on Sunday, March 27, at 6:00 pm at Michael’s on East, Sarasota, FL. It has become the tradition of the Greenfield Prize Celebration that a major national arts figure give the keynote address at the event. Past speakers have been Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang and renowned American painter James Rosenquist.

“I can’t think of a better person to represent the field of drama than Oskar Eustis,” commented Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of Hermitage Artist Retreat, which administers the prize. “Throughout his impressive career, Oskar has worked at some of the most respected regional theaters with some of the best playwrights and actors in the business. He has also been dedicated to the development of new plays as both a director and a producer. He was on our inaugural jury for the first Greenfield Prize in drama, given to Craig Lucas. The work premiered in 2010 at the Asolo Rep. Having accomplished artists such as Oskar Eustis involved with the Greenfield Prize and the Hermitage Artist Retreat is what helps us gain national respect and recognition for what we do. We couldn’t be more pleased to have Oskar back with us when we present the second Greenfield Prize in drama.”

Oskar Eustis has worked as a director, dramaturg, and artistic director for theaters around the country. From 1981 through 1986 he was resident director and dramaturg at the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco, and Artistic Director until 1989, when he moved to the L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum as Associate Artistic Director until 1994. Mr. Eustis then served as Artistic Director at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, for 11 years. In 2005 he took the helm at New York’s Public Theater. Among the most famous of his produced works was the commission and world premieres of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director) and Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika. In 2009, Oskar Eustis was the lead producer on the Tony award-winning revival of Hair on Broadway.

According to Eustis, “The Greenfield Prize has, in a very short time, established itself as an important badge of excellence in the American arts. I am honored to speak at the 2011 award celebration, and delighted to participate in supporting the vision and courage of American artists.”

For more information on the Greenfield Prize or to place your reservation for the March 27th event, visit the website at www.greenfieldprize.org.

Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers from Brazil to Switzerland

If you are in NYC, see Sanford’s art at the Rubin Museum of Art in Grains of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art.

After two months of filming a new project in Salvador da Bahia, Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers went to Lucern, Switzerland to install Creation/Dissipation at the Kunstmuseum Luzern. Soon after, he had the honor of presenting the keynote speech/performance at the 5th Annual Buddhist Film Festival.

The Privilege of our Work

We at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Eve Beglarian in rehearsalWe at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Composer Eve Beglarian has been with us this past week. Eve won the 2009 Greenfield Prize in Music which resulted in a $30,000 commission for a new work, a Hermitage residency, and a partnership with a regional arts organization to help develop the work. In this case, Eve is working with the Sarasota Orchestra. Today we got to attend some of her rehearsal with her musicians. While at the Hermitage last week, she composed a new piece that she got to try today.

Last year Eve had an adventure. She decided to paddle a red kayak from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to New Orleans. Occasionally artists have to do these kinds of things – it’s “filling the well.” The New York Times wrote a wonderful story of her trip. And now she’s writing music influenced by music she heard, people she spoke with, and sounds she encountered paddling and camping her way down the river.

Today we got to hear her rehearse some of it, and talk about it. What a treat. And what a treat the Sarasota audience is in for on March 26th when the Sarasota Orchestra premieres the piece, one of two works that will be the result of the Greenfield Prize commission. Then, on March 26th, it will be your privilege to meet Eve, to discover for yourself what an exceptional human being and inspired composer and musician she is. And you will join with us in thanking Bob and Louise Greenfield and the Greenfield Foundation for the gift of the Greenfield Prize which has brought us Eve and which will continue to bring extraordinary people and the work they create to our community.

Sanford Biggers’ Billboard

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?

Greenfield Prize Process Begins

Today was an exciting day for the Hermitage. We had the first meeting of the Greenfield Prize jury, the group of national industry (theatre) experts, setting off on a journey to select a playwright to receive the 2011 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat

Greenfield WaveToday was an exciting day for the Hermitage. We had the first meeting of the Greenfield Prize jury, the group of national industry (theatre) experts, setting off on a journey to select a playwright to receive the 2011 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat – a $30,000 commission for a new work to be premiered in 2013, a Hermitage residency, and a partnership with the Asolo Repertory Theatre. While we don’t reveal the names of the jury members until a winner is selected, they are three of the most important and visible names in the American professional theatre.

During this stage of the prize process, we meet by conference call – we are scattered across the country. We will reconvene on the telephone in three weeks when we compile a list of approximately 30 playwrights suggested by the jury. These names will be winnowed down to 3-4 writers who will receive a letter out of the the blue informing them that they are finalists for this prestigious prize. The finalists will be invited to submit a proposal of what they will create if they are selected.

The jury convenes in person at the Hermitage in January to select the winner. (The runners-up are also offered Hermitage residencies.) The prize is formally presented at the Greenfield Prize dinner on March 27, 2011.

We must tell you, this is more fun, and more exciting than you can imagine. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you up to date with the process as it evolves. Want to know more about the Greenfield Prize? www.GreenfieldPrize.org

NPR Marketplace on Commissioning Art

Last night National Public Radio’s Marketplace broadcast an interesting segment about members of the general public commissioning works of art. This is exactly what we do annually through the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Last night National Public Radio’s Marketplace broadcast an interesting segment about members of the general public commissioning works of art. This is exactly what we do annually through the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Thanks to Brad Goddard, VP over at PNC Wealth Management for bringing it to our attention.

Listen to the Broadcast

A Festival of Firsts

There’s a new and exciting artistic breeze blowing in Sarasota County and it’s moving in like a front from the north, pushing out the heavy, stagnant air ahead of it. I was first aware of it a couple years ago as the new, young artistic leaders in our community began realizing a different vision for our major organizations. Then last year, with the success of the inaugural Ringling International Art Festival, the “breeze” began to freshen. Here’s the thing – the community seems to be developing a taste for new work, and for those of us who work at providing the community with its artistic content, this is very exciting news indeed.

There’s a new and exciting artistic breeze blowing in Sarasota County and it’s moving in like a front from the north, pushing out the heavy, stagnant air ahead of it. I was first aware of it a couple years ago as the new, young artistic leaders in our community began realizing a different vision for our major organizations. Then last year, with the success of the inaugural Ringling International Art Festival, the “breeze” began to freshen. Here’s the thing – the community seems to be developing a taste for new work, and for those of us who work at providing the community with its artistic content, this is very exciting news indeed.

As a board member of the Sarasota County Arts Council, I’ve been appointed to an advisory committee to the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners charged with developing an annual festival in collaboration with Lord Consulting of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The festival funding is to be seeded with a one-time “windfall” $1 million, earmarked for the Arts that appeared when the County adjusted its accounting process for the Tourist Development funds (meaning the “bed tax.”) Since the notion of the festival grew from a series of meetings with the Sarasota County cultural community, the festival has to end up representing, benefiting and showcasing the cultural community’s breadth and richness. And since the festival’s funding comes from tourist money, it must have the ability to attract an audience from beyond Sarasota County. This has been the challenge. But just last week we stumbled upon an organizing concept for the festival that has exciting implications for us all, including the Hermitage.

Tentatively named the “Festival of Firsts,” the festival will be organized around the concept of “premieres.” The festival work may be world premieres, newly commissioned work, American premieres, Florida premieres – but most importantly, for 3-4 days, Sarasota County’s cultural community will be performing and exhibiting work that the general public has never seen before. Some of that work will be by highly respected creators who attract world-wide attention and the cultural tourists who want to be the first to see it. And it all seems to feed into the new-found interest in new work growing in our community.

The reason this is so meaningful to the Hermitage is that, well, new work is what we do. Major artists come to us from all over the world just to make new work. With the advent of the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, we are commissioning new work from major creators annually. This work is being created here at the Hermitage, and seeing its first audiences in Sarasota County in the spring and always in collaboration with one of our fine artistic organizations. It’s also the same time of year that we hold the Greenfield dinner and bring celebrated artists to the community to give a major speech about their art. In 2012, when it seems most likely that the festival will begin, the Hermitage will be hosting the premiere exhibition of a new work by one of America’s most important new visual artists, Sanford Biggers. At the same time, Artistic Director Ian Webb and the Sarasota Ballet would like to premiere a new work by internationally-respected choreographer Mathew Bourne. And at the Greenfield dinner that year, we will also be announcing the commissioning of a new work of music to premiere in 2014. Add on a new play or two, a new piece of music, and we have the core for something really exciting happening. It could even give rise to interesting restaurant ideas from the “Sarasota Originals” during the festival. Perhaps a showcase of new homes can coordinate, too.

While there are still many obstacles to overcome and decisions to be made, the concept is fertile and will hopefully grow and evolve. It’s not difficult to “see” how it could work. And that vision is exciting enough to push us through the obstacles. In its heyday, the Humana Festival at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville attracted the world-wide press who wrote about the new plays that were premiered. A special festival weekend filled Louisville hotels and restaurants with theatre fans looking to be the first to see new plays, many of which later ended up on Broadway or in regional theaters, or on film. The Louisville restaurants created special festival menus. It was a big deal, and I attended the festival for many years. Our Festival of Firsts, premiering new work in many art forms, could be a big deal too – a very big deal. Let us know what you think.

Second Annual Greenfield Prize Award Dinner

It was a great night in every way as 250 people jammed Michael’s On East to celebrate Sanford Biggers, visual artist and most recent winner of the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

It was a great night in every way as 250 people jammed Michael’s On East to celebrate Sanford Biggers, visual artist and most recent winner of the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. The Keynote speaker was world renowned artist James Rosenquist who made the trip to Sarasota from his home in Aripeka. Rosenquist thrilled the audience with his talk about his work on behalf of artists and the early days in Sarasota; Biggers charmed them with a dazzling smile and kind, friendly words of thanks. And Dan Cameron, a member of the Hermitage National Artist Advisory Committee, enlightened the attentive audience about Bigger’s work and the reason why the committee he chaired awarded the prize to him. It was another beautiful Hermitage evening.

More photos from the evening can be viewed on Flickr