Nearly half a century ago, Duane La Fleche proposed in his weekly column in the Albany Times Union that the New York Philharmonic eschew an offer to make its summer residence in Stowe, Vermont and instead set up shop in Saratoga Springs. It seems very wrong,- La Fleche wrote, "that a New York orchestra should have to look outside the State for a summer residence. Wouldn't the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs make a nice location?"
Local civic leaders agreed, selecting Saratoga Spa State Park as the site, and began in earnest to design the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center. In June 1964, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller climbed atop a bulldozer to break ground on the new facility, and for a little more than a year, more than 300 workers clocked 136,000 hours to complete the 5,100-seat, 10-story amphitheatre.
SPAC opened on July 9, 1966, with a presentation of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream by the New York City Ballet. Harry Belafonte was the first pop performer to grace the stage in '67, and the venue has a long history of hosting rock concerts. Pink Floyd performed Dark Side of the Moon here in 1973 just after the 20,000-capacity lawn was added.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers added to the rich history of the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center Friday night, combining with opener Crosby, Stills, and Nash for nearly four hours of rock 'n roll that left the 23,000 in attendance screaming for more. Petty and company obliged, trotting out from backstage for the encore to fanatical cheers before launching into a killer version of "Runnin' Down a Dream." Ever the entertainer, Tom teased the crowd, asking just how loud they could be. The roar from the SPAC faithful was evidence enough that rock music is alive and well in Upstate New York.
We're back at Darien Lake! Come out to the Performing Arts Center and see us, and be sure to check back for more photos, videos and recaps!