Fiesta 450! The St. Augustine Amphitheatre Celebrates the 450th Anniversary of St. Augustine

BY RENEE UNSWORTH

EVENT: EMMA presents Fiesta 450!
VENUE: St. Augustine Amphitheatre
DATE: Sunday, September 6, 2015
TIME: Doors 3pm / Free Performances 4– 7:30pm / Ticketed Performance 7:30pm
TICKET PRICES: $19.00-$100.00
INFO: www.emmaconcerts.com; www.staugamphitheatre.com

The nation’s oldest city is celebrating its 450th birthday in September. Visits by the king and queen of Spain, a music and street festival, and the annual Menendez landing will take place, along with a day-long celebration of Spanish culture at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

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Fiesta 450! will feature six hours of live music, dance, cultural groups, reenactors and more. This event is hosted by the EMMA Concert Association, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that brings international, national, and regional music and dance to St. Augustine. Members of EMMA applied for a grant with the City of St. Augustine to produce the Fiesta. EMMA member Keith Schlegel wrote the grant, and he and other members came up with the idea of inviting the area arts organizations to participate. The St. Augustine Community Chorus, St. Augustine Youth Chorus, St. Augustine Orchestra, First Coast Opera, and Limelight Theatre will perform.

ensemble-espanolViva España, directed by Gary Cadwallader, is from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on the main stage of the Amphitheatre. Cadwallader is known for directing sold-out musicals and plays at Limelight Theatre and the Orlando Repertory Theatre. “The afternoon portion is a locally produced performance,” explained Kathleen Vande Berg, director of the St. Augustine Chamber Singers, and former director of the St. Augustine Community Chorus. “The St. Augustine Chamber Singers, the St. Augustine Community Chorus, and the St. Augustine Youth Chorus will be performing together, accompanied by Dennis Fermin of Fermin Spanish Guitar, who also will play with the St. Augustine Orchestra. First Coast Opera is providing some solo opera singers, and Limelight will provide readings.” Vande Berg said that the opera singers and choruses will perform parts of Carmen, and three selections from Man of La Mancha. Dennis Fermin also will perform La Bamba with the orchestra, which will involve audience participation. Viva España is free to the public, followed by more free performances from 5:30 to 7 pm by local historical and artistic groups.

Re-enactments, demonstrations and hands-on activities will by available by the St. Augustine Textile Arts Guild, the St. George Players, The St. Augustine Art Association, representatives from the Castillo de San Marco and actors portraying historical personages in period costumes. “The idea for this event came from Eva Doolittle, the past president of the EMMA Concert Association,” explained Ellen Grolman, EMMA’s marketing director. “Her intent was to offer an extravaganza to the city to promote and celebrate the Spanish heritage. We are running with her idea.”

At 7:30pm, the Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theatre will perform on the Amphitheatre’s main stage. Founded in 1976 in Chicago, the dance company’s mission is the presentation, preservation, and promotion of the classical, folkloric, flamenco and contemporary dance and music traditions of Spain. The group is comprised of 40 dancers, singers, musicians and guest artists from Spain and the U.S.

“Fiesta 450! is the EMMA Concert Association’s gift to the community to celebrate Spain’s historical impact on St. Augustine and our nation through a rich, vibrant, collaborative performance by St. Augustine’s premier arts organizations and the Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theatre,” says Joanne Everett, Fiesta 450! Chair.

Tickets for the 7:30pm Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theatre performance range from $19 to $39. For $100 per person, a VIP event is being offered on the deck near the St. Augustine Amphitheatre stage from 6 to 7:30pm. The VIP ticket price includes free parking, hors d’oeuvres, wine and front section seating at the Amphitheatre’s main stage.

Tickets are available at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall Box Offices, ticketmaster.com, all TicketMaster outlets, or by phone at 800-745-3000.

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