Hermitage and Sarasota Opera to present “Music’s Masterpieces”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces a new program presented in partnership with Sarasota Opera featuring the work of Hermitage Fellow Hilan Warshaw, a filmmaker and musician whose work focuses on the lives and works of some of music’s most influential figures. The film screening and discussion will take place on Friday, August 26 at 6pm at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple AveRegistration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org

Hermitage Fellow Hilan Warshaw‘s films explore the lives and minds of great composers, delving into the often controversial passions and experiences that informed some of music’s most influential masterpieces. Blending documentary, narrative film techniques, and his own musical background as a violinist and conductor, Warshaw’s internationally broadcast films shine a new light on musical and operatic creators including Wagner, Schoenberg, Berg, Bach, and Mahler. He is currently the video director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s on-demand Classical Series. For this program on August 26, Warshaw shares excerpts from his films and discusses the close relationship between the art forms of cinema and music. 

“We are excited to partner with Sarasota Opera as we introduce Hilan Warshaw to the many classical music appreciators in our region,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are proud to support new musical voices and multidisciplinary artists, and Hilan’s extraordinary talent as a filmmaker in the field of classical music seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate with our friends at the Opera as he shares his gifts for cinematic and musical storytelling with our community.” 

Please note: Unlike most Hermitage programs, this event will be held indoors at the Sarasota Opera House. Capacity for this event may be limited to accommodate safe social distancing, so early reservations are recommended. Admission is free with a $5 per person registration fee. Face masks are strongly encouraged at check-in; the Hermitage and/or Sarasota Opera reserves the right to add additional health and safety protocols for this event as deemed necessary.

2022-2023 Dates for “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat’s popular series, “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens,” continues into its third year with a multi-program series as part of the 2022-2023 season. The outdoor series – a collaboration between the Hermitage and Selby Gardens – features performances and explorations of works-in-progress by Hermitage artists-in-residence and alumni. All “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” events are currently scheduled to take place at Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus. The first of these events is “The Latest from Terry Guest,” where playwright and Hermitage Fellow Terry Guest will share selections from and discuss one of his exciting new projects on Friday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m., behind Payne Mansion at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota. Admission is free, but registration is required ($5/person) at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

Confirmed event dates for this third season of “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” include:
• Friday, Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m. “The Latest from Terry Guest”
• Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, 5:00 p.m.
• Thursday, March 16, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
• Thursday, May 18, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
Additional dates may be added.

Each program will feature a celebrated Hermitage artist (or artists) to be announced. Last year’s “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” featured the works of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Michael R. Jackson, Kleban Prize winner César Alvarez, world-renowned violinist and member of Beyonce’s band Lady Jess, interdisciplinary performance artist Ni’Ja Whitson, opera singer Thea Lobo, as well as celebrated mime and storyteller Bill Bowers. The 2021-2022 season also saw Selby Gardens host the launch of the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series with celebrated harpist Ashley Jackson. “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” began in the 2020-2021 season and featured MacArthur ‘Genius’ and Avery Fisher Prize winner Claire Chase, composer and santur player Amir El-Saffar, musical theater composer Rona Siddiqui, and distinguished cellist Dorothy Lawson of ETHEL. 

“As we continue to expand our Hermitage programming throughout the region and find safe ways to gather in person, we are thrilled to once again welcome audiences to share a unique and magical evening with Hermitage artists against the beauitul backdrop of Selby Gardens,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We look forward to our continuing partnership with Selby Gardens on this popular series, and welcoming new audiences to experience a ‘sneak peek’ into these extraordinary artists’ creative process.” Sandberg also notes that safety and comfort remain a top priority, so as with the Hermitage beach programs on Manasota Key, seating will be outdoors and socially distanced.

Hermitage Launches Sarasota “Cross Arts Collaborative” in Support of Local Arts Institutions

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the launch of the new Sarasota Cross Arts Collaborative, made possiblewith generous support from the Koski Family Foundation. This new initiative is designed to give frequent performers and company members from leading Sarasota arts organizations a chance to expand their artistic practice from ‘performer’ to ‘creator.’

Each year, the Hermitage will award Cross Arts Collaborative residencies to artists from two selected partner institutions. This new program is designed to inspire and encourage generative work created by some of the best and brightest in our vibrant performing arts community. Artists are invited by their respective organizations to submit proposals for consideration; finalists are then submitted to the Hermitage for consideration, and recipients are selected in consultation with past and current members of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council. Recipients receive two weeks of uninterrupted time at the Hermitage Artist Retreat each summer to develop a new generative project, and the work is then shared with the Sarasota community in a free public program the following fall. 

In the inaugural season of the Hermitage Cross Arts Collaborative, this distinguished honor has been awarded to Tsebiyah Mishael Derry, a frequent collaborator with Florida Studio Theatre, and Derric Gobourne, Jr, a performer with deep roots at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Considering the initial season features partnerships with two theater organizations, the final selection of artists was overseen by Emily Mann, an Emeritus member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council and the Tony Award-winning longtime Artistic Director of the McCarter Theater (Princeton, New Jersey). Mann noted how engrossing the applications were and the worthiness of each reviewed by the Council. A free public program showcasing the work Derry and Gobourne is planned for the fall of 2022; details will be announced at a later time.

While the Hermitage’s nationally renowned residency program brings leading artists from across the country and around the world to create work on its beachfront Manasota Key campus, the Hermitage also seeks to enrich the incredible and growing arts scene in Sarasota, as showcased by performing arts institutions such as Florida Studio Theatre and Westcoast Back Theatre Troupe. 

“We want to offer this one-of-a-kind opportunity to some of the leading artists in Sarasota, by creating space for a talented performer to focus on being a generative artist,”said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We know there are actors, dancers, musicians, and performing artists working amidst our circle of frequent collaborators who have passion projects waiting in the wings. This could be an actor writing a play between production contracts, a cellist composing a symphony after rehearsals, a dancer yearning to expand into the choreographer’s space – or someone looking to work across an entirely new genre. This residency is designed for an artist who is hungry to expand their creative practice and explore a new ‘hat’ within the arts and entertainment space.” Sandberg added that this new Cross Arts Collaborative initiative would not be possible without the generous support of the Koski Family Foundation, longtime supporters and champions of the Hermitage.

“We are proud of our long history of collaboration with the Hermitage and the collective impact we have on the Sarasota community,” said Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “The Cross Arts Collaborative is an exciting new way to gather resources in service of the artists who consider Westcoast Black Theater Troupe their creative home.” The selected artist from Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Derric Gobourne Jr., plans to use the time to develop a new music short film. Of this opportunity, Jacobs added that “Derric has been a member of our creative family for many years and it has been a joy to witness his growth as an artist; I believe this residency will open up new creative possibilities for him and allow him to rise to the next level.”

Tsebiyah Mishael Derry, the selected artist from Florida Studio Theatre will use the time to create an experimental theatrical work weaving together her own poetry, songs, and more. “Every time we partner with the Hermitage, the result is a unique look into the creative process of making theater through the eyes of a leading artist in the field,” said Florida Studio Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “I’m so pleased we are able to collaborate once more to provide this opportunity to Tsebiyah who is quickly making a name for herself as one of those leading artists. We are honored to call her an FST creative family member and cannot wait to see what this dedicated time and space to delve into her richly varied artistry will produce.” 

After their time in residence, the Hermitage will collaborate with the selected partner institutions to bring a public program to the Sarasota community to highlight Derric and Tsebiyah’s work. 

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.

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.”

 

“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.