The North is considered a sleepy area of Westchester, but cultural opportunities abound if you know where to look. Classical music fans are especially in luck here, with Copland House at Merestead and Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts bringing world-renowned classical performers to the area.
This ensemble doesn’t just perform classical music; it tries to put the works in a historical and cultural context. For example, for a 2014 performance of music by Johan Helmich Roman, who was known as “The Swedish Handel,” the concert was followed by a reception at which Swedish pancakes and lingonberries were served. The programs, which are held at the Gothic-style Church of St. Mary the Virgin, often feature a guest speaker and an illustrated program book.
26 N Greeley Ave, Chappaqua (914) 238-8015; www.ars-antiqua.org
The Axial Theatre was founded by playwright, director, and acting teacher Howard Meyer with a mission to produce and present new plays. The Theatre recently presented Meyer’s Radiance, for example, which was a two-time semifinalist at the esteemed O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Performances usually take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church Community House in Pleasantville.
PO Box 1004, Yorktown Heights (914) 962-8828; www.axialtheatre.org
Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts
On the 90-acre grounds of Caramoor, you can find Mediterranean-style architecture, landscaped gardens, Asian and Renaissance art—and plenty of music. Classical, folk, bluegrass, and jazz performances take place in the grand outdoor Venetian Theater, the intimate Spanish Courtyard and gorgeous Sunken Garden, or the elegant Music Room inside the historic Rosen House. Performances take place year-round, but really ramp up every summer during Caramoor’s Summer Music Festival, when artists like Joshua Bell and Rosanne Cash come to play.
149 Girdle Ridge Rd, Katonah (914) 232-5035 www.caramoor.org
The 550-seat Spanish Courtyard at the Caramoor Center For Music & The Arts hosts chamber music performances, recitals, and jazz and American Roots artists.
Copland House at Merestead
For the last 30 years of his life, celebrated composer Aaron Copland lived and worked at Rock Hill, a hilltop house in Cortlandt Manor. Copland House, Inc., is the organization charged with keeping his legacy alive, and it does so by hosting performances at nearby Merestead, a 130-acre estate with a 26-room Georgian Revival mansion designed by famed architects Delano & Aldrich. Composers such as John Corigliano, Richard Danielpour, David Amram, Stephen Schwartz, and Steve Reich have all appeared at Copland House at Merestead programs to conduct, play, and/or discuss their work.
455 Byram Lake Rd, Mount Kisco (914) 788-4659; www.coplandhouse.org
Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden
The Hammond Museum features a gallery with a rotating series of concurrent exhibitions. But the art continues outside on the grounds, where a quaint garden path takes visitors through a variety of landscapes, from a pond with lily pads to a tea garden to a bamboo grove. The garden also hosts special events, such as a yearly moonviewing concert and an annual blessing of the animals.
28 Deveau Rd, North Salem (914) 669-5033 www.hammondmuseum.org
New York Times critic Janet Maslin and filmmaker David O. Russell (a Mamaroneck High School grad) hold a Q&A following a screening of American Hustle at Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.
Jacob Burns Film Center
Expect the best independent, documentary, and foreign films to play here, sometimes with their directors in tow, ready to answer questions at a post-screening Q&A. (Werner Herzog, Danny Boyle, and Steven Spielberg have attended events here.) In addition to first-run features, the center hosts ongoing film series—past series have focused on dance on film, issues of social justice, or the cinema of a particular country, like Romania—and director Jonathan Demme hand-picks his personal underrated favorites for the Rarely Seen Cinema series. The center also runs the Media Arts Lab, which offers classes for students, along with a residence for international filmmakers.
364 Manville Rd, Pleasantville (914) 747-5555 www.burnsfilmcenter.org
John Jay Homestead State Historic Site
This farmhouse was once the home of Founding Father John Jay, first chief justice of the US Supreme Court. Today, the 1800s house, along with an 1820s schoolhouse and 1830s barn, often hosts tours and special events, especially historical lectures. Its annual Barn Dance is an anticipated yearly event. The house is currently closed for an upgrade to its HVAC system and expects to reopen in Spring 2015, but programs continue in the barn and visitors’ center.
400 Jay St, Katonah (914) 232-5651 www.johnjayhomestead.org
The Schoolhouse Theater
Located, fittingly, in the old Croton Falls elementary school building, The Schoolhouse Theater is a professional regional theater presenting plays like The Seafarer, The Crucible, and Nora. The Theater has also launched three works to Off-Broadway.
3 Owens Rd, Croton Falls (914) 277-8477 www.schoolhousetheater.org
Katonah Museum of Art
Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the modernist gray stucco building that the Katonah Museum of Art occupies; inside is no less impressive. Since it’s a non-collecting institution, the museum is able to offer a wide variety of exhibitions, and it’s recently featured prints by Jasper Johns, quilts by American quilt-makers, 3D animation art by Blue Sky Studios (the studio behind the Rio movies), and portraits that spanned from an Egyptian bust to a Chuck Close painting. Art continues outside in the sculpture garden, mingled among 100-year-old Norwegian spruce trees.
134 Jay St, Katonah (914) 232-9555 www.katonahmuseum.org
Smart Arts event series at Westchester Community College
Westchester Community College is known primarily for the degrees it offers, but the Smart Arts event series brings world-class cultural offerings to students and non-students alike in its Academic Arts Theater. Events range from professor-led forums on classic works of literature to contemporary ballet to a magic show with famed illusionists The Spencers. The college also hosts a film series with international titles.
75 Grasslands Rd, Valhalla (914) 606-6262 www.sunywcc.edu/about/smart-arts-events
Beloved family-friendly musicals are usually on the marquee at the Yorktown Stage, and past productions have included Little Shop of Horrors, Fiddler on the Roof, and Grease. The theater mounts between two and four main-stage productions each year. For budding theatrical stars, there are camps and workshops for children and teens.
1974 Commerce St, Yorktown Heights (914) 962-0606; www.yorktownstage.org