Acclaimed ETHEL cellist Dorothy Lawson to headline 2021 Artful Lobster

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced today that Dorothy Lawson, a Hermitage Fellow, acclaimed cellist, and artistic director of the genre-bending string quartet ETHEL, will headline the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s signature fall fundraising event, “The Artful Lobster: An Outdoor Celebration!” on November 13 from 11:30am to 2pm at the Hermitage campus on Manasota Key (Sarasota County, Florida).

Now in its 13th year, the Artful Lobster raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program, supporting the creative process of artists from around the world in the fields of music, theater, visual art, literature, and more. This popular event takes place outdoors beneath a large tent on the Hermitage’s beachfront campus. 

A Juilliard-trained cellist and composer, Lawson is a founding member and artistic director of ETHEL, one of America’s most adventurous string quartets. She has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the White Oak Dance Project, Philharmonia Virtuosi, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and numerous new music ensembles.

“We are incredibly excited to have Dorothy Lawson returning to the Hermitage to perform at this year’s Artful Lobster,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “Dorothy is an extraordinary performer with an innovative and radiant spirit – not to mention a great friend to the Hermitage. The audience at this year’s Artful Lobster is in for a real treat!”

Though this year’s Artful Lobster is now sold out, waitlist inquiries can be made by contacting Amy Wallace at (941) 475-2098, Ext. 2.

The co-chairs for the 2021 Artful Lobster are Charlie Huisking and Charlotte Perret. This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Susan M. Brainerd, a beloved Hermitage trustee who passed away earlier this year. Brainerd generously served as the sponsor of Dorothy Lawson’s most recent Hermitage residency, which culminated with performances at Selby Gardens Downtown and Historic Spanish Point.

Hermitage and The Bay Park announce new series

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and The Bay Park are joining forces to bring the Hermitage’s unique and innovative artist programming to one of Sarasota’s most exciting and ambitious public park projects through a new community program, “Hermitage at The Bay.”

“We are excited to partner with the esteemed Hermitage Artist Retreat to bring innovative events to The Bay,” says Jeannie Perales, Chief Experience Officer at The Bay Park Conservancy. “We know that attendees will delight in the Hermitage’s unique approach to audience engagement, and we’re proud to offer these programs to the community free of cost as a part of our effort to create a park that is open and accessible, free and welcoming to all.”

The first program — “Hermitage at The Bay: Sound and Color” on Thursday, November 18 at 5pm — features two Hermitage Fellows, composer Jared Miller and visual artist Iva Gueorguieva, who will share their latest work and speak about their creative process. Miller’s contemporary classical compositions range from the fast-paced rhythms of basketball in Buzzer Beater to the seismic shifts all around us in Under Sea, Above Sky. Gueorguieva’s art has been described as “the optical equivalent of surround sound” with a “perpetual suddenness” (LA Times). (Iva Gueorguieva’s Hermitage Residency generously sponsored by Gerald & Sondra Biller). Free with a $5 per person registration fee. Registration is required. The Bay’s Civic Green (on the north side of the Municipal Auditorium), 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

On Sunday, December 12 at 2pm, “Hermitage at The Bay: Muse(ic) and Poetry” will feature two Hermitage Fellows, poets Francine J. Harris and Mae Yway (pictured). Harris is an Audre Lorde Award and Lambda Award winner, who will share selections from her latest work Here is the Sweet Hand, inspired by classic compositions. Renowned international poet Mae Yway from Burma (Myanmar) is an International Writing Program participant who presents work both in her native tongue and in translation. Free with a $5 per person registration fee. Registration is required. The Bay’s Civic Green (on the north side of the Municipal Building), 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

New beach program with Tony Award nominee Bess Wohl

The Hermitage Artist Retreat presents a conversation on the beach with 2020 Tony Award-nominated playwright and 2021 Hermitage Fellow Bess Wohl. “The Next Horizon: The Latest from Playwright Bess Wohl” is Thursday, November 4, 5:30 p.m. (ET), virtual via livestream. This program is presented in partnership with the Asolo Repertory Theatre, which will host the regional premiere of Wohl’s play Grand Horizons starting in January of 2022. 

Following its Broadway run, Wohl’s comedy Grand Horizons received a 2020 Tony Award nomination for Best Play. The story takes an intimate look at the unpredictable and enduring nature of love after 50 years of marriage. The regional premiere is at the Asolo Repertory Theatre on January 19, 2022.

Also, as part of the Hermitage’s partnership with the Asolo Rep, FSU/Asolo Conservatory will present its production of Much Ado About Nothing on the Hermitage Beach. This event, on Monday, November 1, 5:30 p.m., is part of the “BardWired” community touring series.

Both events are free with a $5 per person registration fee. Registration for all live and virtual Hermitage events is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

Hermitage receives $43,598 Tourist Development Cultural/Arts grant

The Sarasota County Commission awarded the Hermitage Artist Retreat a $43,598 Tourist Development Cultural/Arts grant to help fund its 2021-2022 community arts and cultural programs. The award-winning creators across all artistic disciplines who stay at the Hermitage provide free public programs that attract thousands of residents and tourists every year. These programs take place at the Hermitage and throughout the region in collaboration with leading arts, cultural, and educational institutions. 

The Hermitage recently announced that its 2021-2022 programming would continue with an expansion of popular live outdoor events, all with socially distanced seating, as well as added virtual offerings. 

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, explains that these cultural gatherings exist to give both residents and visitors the rare opportunity to interact with celebrated authors, musicians, poets, playwrights, visual artists, composers, and performers from around the world. 

“The artists creating work at the Hermitage are shaping the artistic and cultural landscape of the future,” says Sandberg. “The Hermitage has been the birthplace and incubator for works that have gone on to leading theaters, museums, galleries, and concert halls around the world.” He adds that audiences attending Hermitage programs often have the rare opportunity to see a brilliant new work in progress, or to take part in conversations with artists who are truly at the top of their respective fields.

“We are honored that the Tourist Development Commission continues to recognize the Hermitage as a vital artistic leader in our region,” Sandberg adds. “These funds make it possible for us to share the talents and experiences of our extraordinary Hermitage Fellows with tourists and residents throughout our region. Moreover, at a time when arts organizations are facing ongoing challenges due to COVID-19, we are grateful that the arts continue to be recognized as essential to our culture and community here in Sarasota, and that we can continue to find a safe way to move forward with live outdoor and virtual programming.”

Hermitage “doubles down” on safe, expanded outdoor programming for 2021-22

The Hermitage Artist Retreat has been one of the nation’s earliest and most successful adapters to offer a safe new model for live events and performance over the past year. Today, Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg announced that its live and virtual programs in theater, music, visual art, literature, and more will continue to be held entirely outdoors and socially distanced throughout the 2021-2022 season, at venues across Sarasota County including, but not limited to, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, The Bay Sarasota, The Ringling Museum, Asolo Rep, and the Hermitage Beach.

“All of us at the Hermitage are incredibly excited for the season ahead,” notes Andy Sandberg, now entering his second full season as Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, following his appointment in December of 2019. “Our programs are designed to offer audiences a unique and authentic look into our extraordinary artists’ creative process. This does not require us to be indoors, so as we push into the 2021-2022 season, we are doubling down on our commitment to safe and inspiring outdoor programming, as well as expanded virtual access to reach audiences and communities we might not otherwise be able to engage.”

“We are in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with so many extraordinary outdoor venues and partners,” adds Sandberg. “Artists and audiences come to the Gulf Coast to experience the rich arts and cultural scene, but also to enjoy the beautiful sunsets – our programs offer both at once.” 

Until further notice, all Hermitage programs will continue to be outside or online. Moreover, as concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 continue in our region, these outdoor arts and cultural experiences provide a level of comfort to artists and audiences alike. “Anyone who has attended a Hermitage program in the past twelve months knows how seriously we take the health and wellbeing of everyone in attendance,” says Sandberg. “Our incredible staff, crew, and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure these events are safe and enjoyable for all.” At every outdoor Hermitage event – each approximately an hour in length – audiences are socially distanced, with clear signage and ropes to delineate seating blocks. All guests are encouraged to wear masks (provided for anyone who needs one), individual hand sanitizers are distributed to each member of the audience, and artists use separate microphones. “In addition to the health and safety of our audiences, we have to factor in the concerns of our artists who are coming to the Hermitage from different states and countries,” adds Sandberg. “For many, this is their first or only time performing in a live setting in over a year, so they rely on us to ensure a safe and worry-free experience,” adds Sandberg. 

The Hermitage recently announced the 2021-2022 dates for its popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series, which had its debut on August 27. Virtual programming continues with “UnScripted,” a collaboration with the Van Wezel Foundation, as well as the newly announced “Artists and Thinkers: A National Conversation Series,” featuring candid conversations between members of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council and accomplished alumni artists from across the United States. New offerings this season will include collaborations with Art Center Sarasota, The Bay Sarasota, Booker High School, and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, among others, as well as continuing longstanding partnerships with Asolo Rep, Bookstore1, Florida Studio Theatre, New Music New College, Ringling College of Art & Design, The Ringling Museum, Sarasota Art Museum, Selby Gardens, Urbanite Theatre, The Van Wezel, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, and more to be announced.

Sarasota Scene Spotlight: Artists Blossom at the Hermitage

by Wendy Lyons Sunshine, Sarasota Scene Magazine, September 2021

Earlier this summer, 80 creative artists around the country received a package in the mail. Inside were a handful of sharks’ teeth, a small conch shell, and an invitation.

Getting this package was akin to winning the lottery. Just as each shell and fossil had been chosen from a wide universe of seaside treasures, those who received them were chosen from a wide sea of artistic talent, explains Andy Sandberg, artistic director and chief executive officer at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

The lucky recipients are gifted with a rare opportunity—a fully paid artists’ residency at the Hermitage’s historic Manasota Key campus in Englewood, a time to relax away from daily responsibilities, recharge creative batteries, and advance their craft in a beautiful coastal setting. 

Unique Opportunity

“Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of that first visit to the grounds,” says flutist and composer Claire Chase. “I was completely blown away by the setting, by the ethos of the organization, and by the wonderful warmth of everyone I met. There’s truly no place like it in the world.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.

Hermitage receives grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation

The Hermitage Artist Retreat has been recognized by Gulf Coast Community Foundation as one of 12 cornerstone arts organizations with its Arts Appreciation Grant. The unrestricted $30,000 grant, made possible through the Venice Endowment Fund and the Violetta Marchisio Charitable Fund, will help support the Hermitage’s core operations for the 2021-2022 season. Gulf Coast notes that its Arts Appreciation grants allow area organizations to focus on what they do best — “bringing world-class talent and beauty to Florida’s Cultural Coast.” This year, Gulf Coast added the Hermitage Artist Retreat to its distinguished list of grantees, stating that the organization has a successful grant history with the foundation and strong donor support. 

“The Hermitage is a unique and beloved regional asset that rose to the challenge of innovating during the pandemic, providing strong educational and outreach programming,” says Jennifer Johnston, senior community investment officer at Gulf Coast Community Foundation.  “This grant recognizes the direct contributions the Hermitage makes to our community’s cultural life and to this region’s enduring brand as thearts and cultural destination in southwest Florida.” 

Read more here.

Composer David ‘Clay’ Mettens wins 2021 Hermitage Prize in Aspen

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) announce that David ‘Clay’ Mettens, a composition student at the AMFS’s Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies, has been awarded the 2021 Hermitage Prize in Composition. Mettens is the eighth recipient of this annual award, which includes a six-week residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 stipend. Mettens was selected by a jury that includes Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; Robert Spano, music director of the AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony, music director designate of the Fort Worth Symphony, and member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council; and the composition faculty of the AMFS, including Hermitage Fellow Christopher Theofanidis.

Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg presented the award to Mettens at the Aspen Music Festival and School’s Benedict Music Tent, alongside Fletcher, Spano, and Theofanidis. This unique initiative, which launched in 2013, reflects an invaluable partnership between the AMFS and the Hermitage, designed to champion new and original works and to recognize exceptional talent in the field of classical music. The idea was first conceived when Robert Spano was in residence at the Hermitage and shared with his colleagues in Aspen how beneficial the retreat had been for him and his work. The Hermitage Prize in Composition was created to offer the same experience to young, talented composers just beginning their professional careers.

“I was told by our friends at the AMFS that this was a particularly exceptional year for the composers and musicians, and the talent exceeded my expectations,” notes Sandberg. “It was thrilling to hear Clay’s brilliant work in Aspen, workshopped and performed with the AMFS’s Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra alongside original compositions by fellow composers in the program.” Sandberg adds that the Hermitage Prize in Composition given at the AMFS is the only student residency awarded by the Hermitage each year; all other Fellows are accomplished working professionals and leaders in their field, selected by the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council. “This provides the recipient of the annual Hermitage Prize in Composition the opportunity to share this Hermitage experience with leading artists from all around the world.”

David “Clay” Mettens is a Chicago-based composer whose works have received numerous accolades, including a 2020 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and Ithaca College’s 2018 Heckscher Foundation Composition Prize. His compositions have been performed by the Brussels Philharmonic, Washington National Opera, Spektral Quartet, and Ensemble Dal Niente, among others. Mettens holds a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Chicago, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and University of South Carolina, respectively. This summer, he was a recipient of the Susan and Ford Schumann Scholarship at the Aspen Music Festival and School. 

“I’m thrilled to be invited to the Hermitage and work in a stimulating environment, surrounded by artists in other disciplines,” says Mettens. “My compositional imagination is fueled by encounters with literature, poetry, and visual art, and I look forward to practicing my craft in the company of brilliant creators in these disciplines.”

Photo L to R: Christopher Theofanidis, Robert Spano, David ‘Clay’ Mettens, Alan Fletcher, Andy Sandberg. Photo credit/Carlin Ma.

Hermitage announces new members of national curatorial council

The Hermitage Artist Retreat recently announced its 2021-2022 Curatorial Council, comprised of distinguished national arts leaders spanning the fields of theater, visual art, music, literature, and arts education. The newest additions to the Council include Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett(pictured above), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mitchell Jackson, and celebrated WQXR radio host Terrance McKnight

Nataki Garrett is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director. She previously served as a juror for the 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize. Garrett is currently leading the charge to mobilize theater organizations across the nation to procure long-term federal government support to ensure the theater industry’s reemergence post-pandemic. Garrett’s passion is fostering and developing new work, including those that adapt and devise new ways of performing the classics. She has directed and produced the world premieres of many well-known and important playwriting voices of our time, including Katori Hall, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dominique Morriseau and Aziza Barnes.

Mitchell S. Jackson is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing. His debut novel, The Residue Years, received wide critical praise and won a Whiting Award and The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who, as part of his outreach, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.

Terrance McKnight is the evening host on WQXR, an artistic advisor for the Harlem Chamber Players, and serves on the boards of the Bagby Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. He’s frequently sought out by major cultural organizations for his insight into the cultivation of diverse perspectives and voices in the cultural sphere. McKnight regularly curates concerts and talks at Merkin Concert Hall, Billie Holiday Theatre, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Museum of Modern Art.

Read full press release here.

Hermitage welcomes Programs Manager James Monaghan

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced today the organization has welcomed James R. Monaghan as its new programs manager. Monaghan joins the Hermitage after serving as the Asolo Rep’s dramaturg and literary manager. In his new role, Monaghan will be responsible for coordinating and managing the Hermitage’s acclaimed artist and community engagement programs. He will work closely with Sandberg and the Hermitage team in overseeing the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program and will also collaborate with hundreds of Hermitage artists to bring innovative, authentic, and unique programming to our region.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome James to the Hermitage family, and I am confident he will be an extraordinary addition to our fantastic team,” says Sandberg. “I have had the pleasure of working with James in our collaborations with the Asolo, and have come to know him as someone deeply intelligent and passionate about the arts. As we expand and develop new programming, James’ thoughtful creativity will be a gift to our artists and our community.”

Prior to his work with the Asolo Rep, Monaghan wrote about theatrical design as the Tow Foundation Fellow in the Roundabout Theatre Company Archives, created a one-on-one theatrical experience entitled [antidote] for the National Theatre of Croatia in Rijeka, and worked in the literary department of the Play Company in New York. He has been a resident artist at the Catwalk Institute, was featured in the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas’ newsletter and recently directed a digital production of Spring Awakening with the Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Before completing his MFA at Columbia University, Monaghan received his BFA with honors from New York University, and worked as an educator and director in his hometown of Houston, Texas. 

“I’m ecstatic to be joining such a passionate and talented team that is dedicated to serving Gulf Coast audiences, a community that celebrates the vital role of art in shaping our future,” says Monaghan about his new role. “The Hermitage provides unique and authentic insight into the creative process, and I’m honored to participate in growing that legacy.”