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Guitar in the Garden

Thursday July 22, 2021 @ 7:00pm

Chairs will not be supplied for this event. Please bring your own chairs/blankets/etc.

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Thursday July 22, 2021 @ 7:00pm

Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “…talented, sensitive … brilliant,” Korean guitarist JIJI makes her Caramoor debut with UNBOUND, a program that explores what virtuosity looks/sounds like in the 21st century. She asked eight composers from all over the world to write her a virtuosic solo guitar piece and looks forward to pushing her limits as a guitarist. JIJI’s impeccable musicianship combined with compelling stage presence and fascinating repertoire earned her First Prize at the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition.


JIJI, guitar


Claudia Sessa: Occhi io vissi di voi (arr. by JIJI)
Albeniz: Asturias
Justin Holland: See-Saw Waltz and Peekaboo Waltz
Paganini: Caprice in A Minor, Op. 1, No. 24
Natalie Dietterich: Abigail (U.S. premiere)
Hilary Purrington: passaggio (U.S. premiere)
Kate Moore: Cobalt Blue (U.S. premiere)
Tania León: Bailarín
Krists Auznieks: Cor
Gulli Bjornsson: Dynjandi

About the Artist

JIJI, guitar

Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “…talented, sensitive…brilliant,” Jiji is an adventurous artist on both acoustic and electric guitar, playing an extensive range of music from traditional and contemporary classical music to free improvisation.  Her impeccable musicianship combined with compelling stage presence and fascinating repertoire earned the Korean guitarist First Prize at the 2016 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. The Kansas City Star described Jiji as “a graceful and nuanced player,” adding that “…she presented an intimate, captivating performance.” 

Career highlights include a wide array of venues, including Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, Festival Napa Valley, Krannert Center, Purdue Convocations, Virginia Arts Festival, National Sawdust, Miller theater, Mass MOCA, Subculture NYC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Her recent tours of Hong Kong consisted of performances collaborating with a performance Artist, a traditional Chinese instrument ensemble, and an Erhu player in art galleries, clubs, and even on a moving trolley.

A passionate advocate of new music, Jiji has premiered a duo piece Talking Guitars by renowned composer, Paul Lansky, released on Bridge Records.  She has premiered works by numerous emerging composers, including Nina C. Young, Gabriella Smith, Riho Maimets, Krists Auznieks, Gulli Björnsson, Andrew McIntosh, and Farnood HaghaniPour.  She also performs her own compositions, incorporatingelectronic media and acoustic music.  

Her music is influenced by her regular activities as a DJ, where she highlights the electronic dance styles of happy hardcore and Berlin experimental electronica. As a chamber musician, she performed with members of Eighth Blackbird, Bang on a Can All-Stars, wild Up, and the Aizuri Quartet. 

Currently sponsored by D’Addario Strings, Jiji’s performances have been featured on PBS, NPR’s From the Top, WHYY-TV, FOX 4-TV, Munchies, The Not So Late Show, and Hong Kong broadcast station RTHK’s The Works.

Jiji is currently based in Tempe, Arizona where she holds the post of Assistant Professor of Guitar at Arizona State University. 

About the Music

At a Glance

Today’s guitar concert begins with Occhi io vissi di voi, the work of a Renaissance nun, Claudia Sessa. Only two of Sessa’s works, both songs, are extant today, and this piece, originally a song, translates well to the guitar idiom because of its embellishments.

The next three pieces were all composed in the 19th century. Suite española was written in 1886 by Catalonian composer/pianist Isaac Albéniz in honor of the Queen of Spain. Originally the work consisted of four evocative pieces for piano: Granada, Cataluña, Sevilla, and Cuba, but it has, throughout its history, often been performed by guitar. It was republished in 1912, after Albéniz’s death, when four more pieces were added: Cádiz, Asturias, Aragón, and Castilla.

Justin Holland, born free during slavery, was the first Black man to make an important contribution to the music of the classic guitar. He was renowned for his arrangements; SeeSaw Waltz and Peekaboo Waltz are two that have survived. Niccolò Paganini was known as both a violin virtuoso, renowned worldwide for his feats of magic with both bow and fingers and a composer. He composed his 24 Caprices at the beginning of the 19th century.

Composer, violinist, and vocalist Natalie Dietterich is featured in today’s concert with the U.S. premiere of her guitar work Abigail. Previously, she composed an acoustic-electric guitar concerto for JIJI, which premiered at Carnegie Hall. Hilary Purrington is a New York City-based composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her passaggio, which makes its United States premiere in this program is, like several other pieces in this program, part of JIJI’s Unbound project, a commissioning and recording project aimed to expand the classical guitar repertoire. Kate Moore is an Australian-Dutch musician and composer of new music. She is also a sound artist and visual artist. Her new work Cobalt Blue receives its United States premiere in this concert.

Bailarin, evocative of the movements of a dancer, is a work by the Cuban-born American composer Tania León. Bailarin uses patterns and rhythms that refer to conventional dances, but León’s music abstracts and recombines the elements in unexpected ways.

Cor by Krists Auznieks, a young New York based Latvian composer, was commissioned for guitar by JIJI. Dynjandi, composed by the young Icelandic composer/guitarist Gulli Bjornsson, was also commissioned by JIJI. The work was completed about a year ago.

(c. 1570c.-1617/19) 

Occhi io vissi di voi

About the Composer

Claudia Sessa was born in 1570 into an Italian aristocratic family. Little is known of her life other than that she was a talented musician who became a nun at the Milan convent of Santa Maria Annunciata, where she spent her life and wrote sacred works. Her work was original, ambitious, and among the most notable of her time. More than half the women who published music before 1700 were nuns and developed their craft in the convents where they lived.

About the Work 

Occhi io vissi di voi (Eyes, I have been sustained by you) was first published in 1613 in a Venetian collection, Canoro pianto di Maria Vergine sopra la faccia di Christo estinto. In the works in this collection, Mary, the mother of Jesus, meditates on different parts of Christ’s anatomy after his death; in this short intensely mystical aria, with a text by Angelo Grilli, Sessa focuses on Jesus’s extinguished eyes. The devotional aspect of the song in which Christ’s death is a source of sustenance is heightened by rapid melismas (a group of notes sung to one syllable of text) on the words ‘morte’ (death) and ‘gioire’ (to rejoice in) followed by a slow, hesitant descent, interrupted by slow trills. This work has been transcribed for guitar in a particularly poignant arrangement.

Occhi io vissi di voi 
mentre voi fosti voi ma spenti poi 
vivo di vostra morte 
Infelice alimento 
che mi nutre al tormento 
e mi manca al gioire 
per far vivace morte al mio martire.


Suite española, Asturias, Op. 47, No. 5

About the Composer

The Catalonian composer/pianist Isaac Albéniz made and lost a fortune playing piano in Latin America and playing in New York waterfront bars; finally, he went to Germany, where he studied with Liszt. In Leipzig he met Spanish composer/musicologist Felipe Pedrell, who encouraged him to explore the musical resources of Spanish music; consequently, Albéniz became very important in the creation of a truly national music, incorporating Spanish rhythms and melodies in his music and participating in the modernismo movement of the resurgence of Catalan culture in Barcelona in the 1890’s.

About the Work

Albéniz’s masterpiece is the large piano cycle Iberia (1905), which depicts the regions of Spain. Its grandeur long overshadowed the charming but more modest works he wrote earlier, which include the Suite española (1886) in which each movement evokes the place whose name it bears. All eight movements of the Suite are written in triple meter, and all but the second piece, Cataluña, have ternary (three-part) form made up of two similar outer sections and a contrasting middle, a copla, which was originally an improvised song section placed within a dance.

In 1911, two years after the composer’s death, the German publisher Friedrich Hofmeister published the first “complete” version of the Suite española, Op. 47. When it appeared in 1886, the work was advertised as an eight-movement suite, but only four of its movements were published then. The four additional movements, which appeared in the complete 1911 edition, had all been published previously under different titles. Commentators suggest that Hofmeister inserted these four movements into the Suite española, changing the names to fit those originally advertised 25 years earlier. 

Albéniz had, it appears, promised his first publisher more movements than he completed. Thus, for example, a piece known as “Preludio” became Asturias, subtitled Leyenda, the fifth movement of Albéniz’s Suite española. Union Musical Española also published a “complete” version of the Suite española in 1918 edited by Juan Salvat, based on an earlier version rather than the revised eight-movement Hofmeister version. All subsequent editions of the piece, however, seem to have followed from the altered Hofmeister edition.

A Deeper Listen

Each movement of the Suite española evokes the place whose name it bears. Composing most of his pieces in Spanish style in London and Paris, Albéniz expressed the nostalgia for his homeland in part by creating images of flamenco and of the Moorish feel of Andalusia.

Asturias, subtitled Leyenda (Legend), the fifth piece, is one that is often extracted as a popular guitar solo transcription. Demanding technically, this piece creates a unique atmospheric effect. Although the legend that the composer had in his mind is unknown, the music is haunting and reminiscent of flamenco. It has inspired numerous dramatic stories, ranging from biblical thunderstorms to devastating earthquakes. The opening section of the work creates the sound of the flamenco guitar with its “open-string” pedal point and “rasgueado” chords. (Rasgueado is a guitar finger strumming technique commonly associated with flamenco guitar music. It is also used in classical and other fingerstyle guitar picking techniques.)

The slow central section is more sophisticated. The opening phrases evoke the cante jondo, the improvised solo song of the persecuted Indian-Jewish-Gypsy cultural amalgam that produced what we call flamenco. The work ends with bare octaves.


See-Saw Waltz and Peekaboo Waltz (from John Magner’s Rosabel)

About the Composer

Justin Holland, born to free Black parents in Virginia, was a classical musician, composer, and arranger and one of the most important American guitarists of his generation. He was, it is thought, the first African-American to make an important contribution to classic guitar music. Holland’s Method, published in 1876, stands as one of the finest methods for guitar instruction published in America in the 19th century.

Between 1848 and 1854 Holland was an assistant secretary and member of the council at National and State Negro Conventions, where he worked alongside Frederick Douglass and worked with the Underground Railroad.

About the Work 

Among Holland’s arrangements that have survived are the two waltzes,     See-Saw and Peekaboo, that he arranged from John Manger’s Rosabel. 

JIJI writes: “I thought it would be fun and interesting to play waltzes that are American. Holland had such an interesting life and I was motivated to play music that was arranged by him. They are both simple and nice pieces. I just recorded them for Lara Downes’ Rising Sun Project.”


Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 1, No. 24 

About the Composer

Niccolò Paganini, one of the greatest violinists in history, inspired the mystique of the virtuoso and revolutionized violin technique. Paganini was an imaginative, perceptive musician and technician who discovered new, unconventional ways of producing sounds from his instrument. His violin technique not only relied on improvisation, but also demanded a wide-ranging use of harmonics and pizzicato effects, new methods of fingering, and tuning. He also used trick effects such as cutting one or two violin strings and still continuing to play the piece on the strings that were left. Themes from the Caprices were inspirational to several other composers including Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff. After Paganini’s death, scientists explained and codified the mechanics and the acoustics of the effects with which he had dazzled his hearers. Armed with this new scientific and technical knowledge, some violinists, but not very many, have been able to duplicate his feats.

About the Work

Paganini’s compositional musical style closely follows that of the Italian bel canto; his themes are lyrical and melodious, much like those written for vocal soloists of the day. The Twenty Four Caprices, composed between 1801 and 1807 to display the novel features of his technique, are among his most important works: each demands great technical virtuosity and is a masterpiece, presenting many innovations. They qualify as among his most important and best known works; they were first published in 1820 and became frequently reprinted. Each requires the soloist to have great technical virtuosity as it ranges over the whole scope of violin technique, with the exception of natural and double harmonics. Perhaps the reason for this omission is the demanding speed of what Paganini expected of the violinist; playing double harmonics cannot be done with such velocity.

The series explores virtually every aspect of violin technique: legato, staccato, spiccato, tremolo, harmonics, trills, arpeggios, scales, left-hand pizzicato, and multiple-stopping:

thirds, sixths, octaves, and tenths. Although the Caprices can be described as studies, they are not just technical exercises, however difficult they are to play.

A Deeper Listen

The 24th Caprice, the last of the series of Caprices, widely is considered one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the violin. No. 24 perhaps reaches this pinnacle by being the most challenging and the most innovative. It consists of a theme with 11 variations. In addition to those techniques required by the other Caprices in the series, it also demands many highly advanced techniques such as parallel octaves and rapid shifting and quick string crossing.

There are few repetitions in the caprices; each is a unique character piece. Paganini’s innovations in these 24 caprices contain more interesting and unusual techniques for the violin than one can imagine written for violin by any other composer in one work, and yet the caprices also display variety and interest as they vary between rapid virtuosic display and intense tenderness.


Abigail (World Premiere) 

About the composer

American composer, violinist, and vocalist Natalie Dietterich was praised by NPR’s Performance Today for her “pulsatingly beautiful and moving” music. She is primarily known for her orchestral and choral works, rhythmic layering, and creative use of unconventional texts.

Dietterich’s recent projects include an acoustic-electric guitar concerto for virtuoso JIJI, which premiered at Carnegie Hall. Her orchestral music has been performed and/or presented at the Albany Symphony as part of the American Music Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as part of the Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, by the New York Youth Symphony, the Shanghai Symphony, and the Cabrillo Festival Music Institute, the Norfolk Chamber Music Institute, and Arts, Letters, and Numbers.

Dietterich, who was born in Philadelphia, holds M.M. and M.M.A. degrees in music composition from Yale University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at Princeton University.

About the Work 

Dietterich explained that she’s always loved brain games such as crosswords cryptograms, and finds that she’s often trying to solve puzzles when working with music.

This work is part of JIJI’s solo guitar virtuoso project and will appear on JIJI’s new album, UNBOUND.

Dietterich has written: “In Abigail, I wanted to write a piece that focused on resonance. My problem to solve became one centered around hand positions, and how I could draw melodies out of such shapes, while keeping the piece full and sonorous, in a sort of Campanella style. The title is named after someone near and dear to JIJI and I. We have spent many hours together and have learned a lot from her. This piece was written for JIJI and this performance will be the world premiere!”



About the Composer

Hilary Purrington is a New York City-based composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her work has received recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP); and the International Alliance for Women in Music, among others.

Upcoming projects include commissions for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. She was a 2020 recipient of an orchestral commission from the League of American Orchestra’s Women Composers Readings and Commissions program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Harp of Nerves, another piece she wrote for JIJI, was commissioned and premiered by American Composers Orchestra in 2019.

About the Work

Purrington explains that passaggio, commissioned by JIJI, is “a six-minute virtuosic work for solo classical guitar. The music plays with range, contrasting the guitar’s distinctive registers, and the piece requires the performer to sing (something that makes the piece uniquely tailored to JIJI and really only accessible by other female guitarists). The title, Italian for passage, is a term used in classical singing to describe the transition area between vocal registers.”

(b. 1979)

Cobalt Blue 

About the composer

The Australian-Dutch composer Kate Moore received a B.Mus. cum Laude with the University Medal from The Australian National University, an MA from The Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and a Ph.D. from The University of Sydney. She has lived in the Netherlands since 2002. 

In 2017 Moore was the recipient of the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize, the most prestigious Dutch prize for composers, for her work The Dam, commissioned for The Canberra International Festival. She has had works performed by acclaimed ensembles internationally including ASKO|Schönberg, Alarm Will Sound, The Bang On A Can All-Stars, and Icebreaker.

About the Work 

Moore takes inspiration from the organic shapes and sounds found in nature as well as from lost objects of the natural biosphere, both sonic and visual. She explains she is “in search of shapes, structures, and lines unique in form but in harmony with the diversity of living creatures plants and animals.” Moore recognizes the correspondence between physical form and resonance and explains, “The harmonic sequence of matter, filled with kinetic energy, is present in everything; the transference of sonic currents connects and links all objects. Everything is related in this respect, and the fluidity between physical matter and sound are inseparable.” 

The composer wrote the following about Cobalt Blue: “The title is inspired by the colour blue cobalt. Striking in intensity, this colour has an electric spirituality, alive with mystery and desire. Historically, used on ceramic and glassware, this iconic pigment is the signature colour of China and Delftware. Intricate details of life scenes are depicted upon tiles and vases, capturing intimate moments in blue. Vivid blue moments provide the backdrop to the composition. I wrote the piece on a honky-tonk piano in a vast ceramic workshop with giant windows where light streamed as though from a Vermeer painting, casting shadows across giant ceramic sculptures. The strange shapes and forms of the clay objects became animated with the music, as though dancing, transcending their cumbersome weight of stone, to become living nymphs and sprites in the changing light. “

(b. 1943)


About the Composer

Tania León is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, and educator. 

In 1967, at 24, León left Cuba for Miami, intending to travel on to Europe, but settled in New York. 

A co-founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem, she has been commissioned in recent years by the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Ursula Oppens with the Cassatt String Quartet. 

León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the American Composers Orchestra’s Sonidos de las Américas Festivals, was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the founder/Artistic Director of the nonprofit and festival Composers Now.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the ASCAP Victor Herbert Award, among others. She has been awarded Koussevitzky and Guggenheim Fellowships for her compositions, and has been nominated for Grammy awards.

She has served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A CUNY Professor Emerita, she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.

About the Work 

When León was finally able to visit her native Cuba, she discovered that her father seemed less than fully impressed with her early work; feeling it was missing something, he took her to a Santería ceremony to remind her of her roots. (Santeria, a fusion of Catholic practices and African folk beliefs, emerged in Cuba during the 17th century, and is firmly embedded in Cuban society.) There she heard the polyrhythmic music that she had absorbed growing up, but which had remained absent from her early compositions. As a young musician in Cuba, León had listened to traditional and popular dance music, as well as collaborated with popular music and jazz performers and composers such as Paquito D’Rivera.

León began her professional career in the U.S. working with dance companies. A sensation of movement in her music is a natural consequence of that time and a very important defining feature in in León’s music. Movement can be found in the tempo and rhythmic figures, in between musical lines, and between contrasting timbres and textures.

In Bailarín (Dancer), written in 1998, León refers to elements of conventional dances, but surprises the listener with how she uses them. David Starobin, long known for his association with composers such as Mario Davidovsky, Paul Lansky, Elliott Carter, and Milton Babbitt, and who presented hundreds of new compositions for and with guitar over the past four decades, puts it perfectly: “Bailarín’s insistent groove might spring from Tania’s Caribbean origins, but the piece is very much the work of a modern composer ringing her changes.” León continually mixes the familiar with the unfamiliar, exceeding the listener’s expectations. Due to the variety of compositional techniques and styles she uses, her music defies categorization, which is exactly what she intends.

(b. 1992) 


About the Composer

Krists Auznieks is a New York based Latvian composer. His quintet Piano was featured in The New York Times among the week’s best classical music moments. His opera NeoArctic, co-written with British techno producer Andy Stott, premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2019. Among his recent commissions are works for the Atlanta Symphony, Cappella Amsterdam and the Latvian Radio Choir, for Yale Percussion Group, for the Aspen Music Festival, and a guitar concerto for Sinfonietta Riga and JIJI.

His most recent awards include the Jacob Druckmann Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, the Woods Chandler Memorial Prize from Yale, fellowships from Aspen Music Festival, NEXT Festival of Emerging Artists (NYC), Bennington Chamber Music Conference, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. He has served on the faculty of Yale School of Music and Montclair State University, and has also taught for the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers Program.

About the Work 

Auznieks has provided the following about Cor: “Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer says that ‘we should never underestimate what a word can tell us, for language represents the previous accomplishment of thought.’

“I love the root ‘Cor.’ In Latin it refers to ‘heart,’ hence the English word ‘core’ as the center of one’s being. However, in Latin figuratively it also refers to soul and mind. It turns out that ‘courage’ has the same origin. And so does conCORd: of one mind, bring into union. Take yet another route and it means to remember (reCORdor: call to mind, recollect) but in some dialectical variants it can even refer to God. I like to imagine, in a somewhat fanciful manner, that guitar strings participate in that history and that the word ‘cord’ shares something with the etymology of ‘cor’: after all, Italians use ‘CORde per chittara’ to talk about guitar strings. But how far is ‘chord’ from ‘cord?’ When we say ‘to strike a chord,’ we are referring to both, ‘heart’ and ‘concord,’ and at times we say it to tell each other that we remember (reCORdor) something else because of a similarity.

“When JIJI asked me to write her a piece, I knew I wanted it to be about being human, that is, something essential that speaks about a condition that transcends our current time and place. For me, it entails both the Enlightenment’s Mind and the Romanticism’s Heart, and I feel that the guitar has an equal dose of both. Its heart, its strings (CORde) — at least linguistically — are closely tied to its body (CORpus) bringing together body, mind, and heart in an effortless play. After spending months with the piece, I became convinced that the other connotations of the word ‘Cor’ were as relevant to the music: it requires a great deal of courage from the performer as well as concord among mind, body, and heart; and there is an underlying remembrance of things past. Portuguese ‘cor’ for color, reveals the piece’s focus on varied hues of a similar harmony and the Old French ‘cor’ that refers to a horn hints at the horn calls that summon us to witness a mind-body union later in the piece. Even Gaelic ‘cor’ is relevant: it is a word for ‘condition,’ ‘state’ or even ‘eventuality’ revealing the inevitability inherent in the musical materials.”

JIJI has explained: “Cor is part of my commissioning project. I’m currently working on a solo album/recital program/commissioning project called UNBOUND. I’ve asked eight composers to write me a “virtuosic” piece. This is one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever played in my life. It’s amazing. Totally genius. Krists also wrote me an electric guitar concerto and the premiere was set in March in Riga, Latvia, but we had to postpone it to next year due to the pandemic! Sad but I still get to do it next year!!!!”

(b. 1991)


About the Composer

Guitarist and composer Gulli Björnsson, born in Iceland, began his music studies at Kopavogur Music School when he was 10. Although primarily educated as a classical guitarist, Björnsson composes music of all sorts. His music draws inspiration from both film and guitar music. Recently, he has scored the documentary Elegy for the Time Being by Tram Luong and released a full-length techno album, Techno 1.

As a performer, Björnsson has performed a huge variety of guitar music in venues ranging from Merkin Concert Hall in New York to his local swimming pool in Iceland. Björnsson has been a finalist in international guitar competitions around the world and has received a multitude of grants and scholarships. His debut album, Bergmál, features his unique compositions for guitar, strings, and laptop.

About the Work 

Björnsson’s music usually blends electronics, acoustic instruments, and visuals in a variety of contexts; Dynjandi, however, does not include visuals. Dynjandi was written as part of JIJI’s commissioning project, Never Not Enough, and it premiered November 1, 2019 at the 92nd Street Y.

Dynjandi takes its name from a massive waterfall in the west of Iceland that cascades down a mountainside, creating a total of seven waterfalls. Like the waterfall for which it was named, Bjornsson’s Dynjandi has seven sections. In Björnsson’s words, “The waterfall is majestic -– it totally looks like time flows in a different dimension. It looks like each stream has a different setting of slow motion. The arpeggios and harmonies reflect each stream – the slow sections represent the still pools between the waterfalls and the clusters link it together.”

– Susan Halpern

All artists and dates are subject to change and cancellation without notice as we work closely with local health experts and officials. Please note that all performances at Caramoor are in compliance with current New York State Regulations. Read our latest Health & Safety updates.