Did you know that October is National Arts and Humanities Month? In honor of the occasion, the White House has issued a proclamation by President Biden that begins: During the throes of the American Revolution, General George Washington wrote a letter to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences saying, “The arts and sciences [are] essential to the prosperity of the State and… the ornament and happiness of human life.”  His words are a reminder that, since our founding days, America’s arts and humanities have helped tell the story of our Nation. They represent the freedom of expression that empowers Americans to speak and think independently and creatively. They build bridges of understanding by chronicling the shared experiences of hope, heartbreak, joy, and pain that help us see ourselves in one another. And they record and wrestle with the truth of our history while envisioning all the possibilities our future holds.  During National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate all the artists and scholars whose works depict the rich, enduring soul of our Nation. You can read the entire proclamation on the White House website. And then get out there and celebrate the arts!

Historic Hudson Valley presents
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson
September 15 – November 19
Van Cortlandt’s historic grounds will be filled to the brim with carved pumpkins at the annual Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Magnificent displays of over 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns that have been hand-carved on-site by a team of artisans will light up the night sky. This year’s show will include a new twirling pumpkin Ferris wheel and gourd-eous circus sideshow.
Find more details and get tickets on the Historic Hudson Valley website.

The Metropolitan Opera in association with PBS and The WNET Group presents
Great Performances at the Met:  Don Giovanni
Premieres beginning Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Tony Award–winning director Ivo van Hove makes his Met debut with a new take on Mozart’s tragicomedy, re-setting the familiar tale of deceit and damnation in an abstract architectural landscape. Maestro Nathalie Stutzmann also makes her Met debut, conducting the cast led by baritone Peter Mattei in the title role alongside bass-baritone Adam Plachetka as Leporello. Sopranos Federica Lombardi, Ana María Martínez and Ying Fang portray Giovanni’s conquests—Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina—and tenor Ben Bliss is Don Ottavio. Erin Morley hosts.
Learn more and watch the trailer on PBS.org

The Purchase PAC presents
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Branford Marsalis
Friday, October 13, at 8pm
Revered jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis teams up with the innovative Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for a program that meets at the intersection of jazz and classical, featuring works by Debussy, Ibert, Lecuona, brand-new arrangements of works by Ravel and Gershwin, and the world premiere of a work by Antonio Garcia, commissioned by Orpheus.
View program information and get tickets on The Purchase PAC website
Hear Branford Marsalis play Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1

Westchester Philharmonic presents
The Returns of Rachev and Ran
Sunday, October 15, at 3 pm
The Purchase PAC
After Danail Rachev (2015) and Ran Dank (2022) made their triumphant Philharmonic debuts, our inbox immediately overflowed with demands that we bring each of them back. Done and done. If you were there, you know why. If you weren’t, find out why! Our 41st season opens with a masterpiece by George Walker, the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Music.
Learn more on the Westchester Philharomonic’s website
Hear Ran Dank play Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat major op. 53 “Heroic”

Purchase College Jewish Studies in partnership with Westchester Jewish Council presents
Yearning and Rejoicing: Jewish Music of the Diaspora
Sunday, October 15, at 3 pm
The Purchase PAC
A mesmerizing concert of Baroque Sephardic music, where the rich tapestry of history comes alive through enchanting melodies and rhythms. This event is free but registration is recommended. Presented by the Jewish Studies Program at Purchase College and the Westchester Jewish Council.
Visit the Purchase College website for more information and to RSVP

The Purchase PAC presents
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Rachmaninov, The Composer
Saturday, October 21, at 5pm
Pre-concert talk at 4:15pm
The Purchase PAC
2023 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of virtuoso pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninov. In tribute to his legacy, this piano-centered program pairs his singular voice with those of his mentors and contemporaries. Including works by: Rachmaninov, Rubenstein, Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov
View program information and get tickets on The Purchase PAC website
Listen to Rachmaninov’s Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor, played by a Bosendorfer 290SE Reproducing Piano, which played back a music roll recorded by Rachmaninov himself

The Purchase PAC presents
Saturday, November 4, at 8pm
The Purchase PAC
Since its founding in 2007 by Artistic Director Tina Finkelman Berkett, BODYTRAFFIC has held fast to its mission of championing contemporary dance, educating audiences, and inciting positive change. Its goal is simple: get the world moving. Challenge, passion, empathy, inclusion, and growth are at the heart of everything BODYTRAFFIC does. It seeks to elevate dance beyond an art form to a mode of exploration and celebration of ideas and spirit through movement. Because, after all, without movement, nothing changes.
Check out BODYTRAFFIC’s channel on Vimeo
Watch BODYTRAFFIC’s “sizzle reel” on YouTube

Culture Picks celebrates the performing arts. In each post, PAC staff member Coni Guhl shines the spotlight on work by artists that you know and love from their appearances at The Purchase PAC, and offers recommendations about other performing arts events that you really should not miss. Experience them all!

All times are EDT unless otherwise noted.

Pictured: Branford Marsalis. Photo (c) Roger Thomas.