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Concerts

The New York Pops: 42nd on 57th: Broadway Today

March 14, 2016

A pulsating medley from Kander and Ebb’s musical "Chicago" was the thrilling second act opening number of The New York Pops’ pleasant concert of eclectic show music, "42nd on 57th: Broadway Today." The evening opened with a lush and dramatic selection from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "The Phantom of The Opera." "Les Misérables" also received a superb symphonic treatment, as did the lovely overture from "Ragtime." Hearing these familiar melodies performed by this supremely accomplished 78 piece orchestra was uniquely enthralling. [more]

Composer Portraits: Alex Mincek with Yarn/Wire and Mivos Quartet

March 14, 2016

In the compositions of New York composer Alex Mincek (b. 1975), music is explored by means of separating out its constitutive elements: as indicated in Miller Theatre program notes for his Composer Portrait concert, Mincek examines “sound worlds,” music states and the “sense of interconnectivity that reveals underlying qualities of coherence and unity.” These principles were on full display as two stellar contemporary groups, Yarn/Wire and Mivos Quartet, presented four recent Mincek works, including two world premieres. [more]

From Moses to Mostel: A History of the Jews

March 8, 2016

Robert Klein, the comedian/actor/writer, was the laid back host whose shtick—a cell phone conversation with God (a humorless lady)—provided the backbone of the show. Klein had to prove to the very distracted all-powerful lady that the world was worth saving. From this fragile premise came a very amusing, slightly overlong, program, performed by a large band conducted by Frank London and four fine singers: Joanne Borts, Rachel Stern, Rob Evan and Steve Rosen, plus a guest artist or two. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Battle for the Airwaves: The Songbook Meets Rock and Country”

March 2, 2016

Breezily delivering his erudite script from a music stand, black-backed cards that he occasionally held, and from memory, Naughton cited Jazz, Gospel, The Blues, Country and Doo-wop. He also imparted historical facts and biographical details about the key figures involved. These included Nat King Cole, The Mills Brothers, Hank Williams, Jr., Louis Jordan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline, The Coasters, The Platters, and Ray Charles. Much of the commentary was accompanied by appropriate slide projections. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The 1930’s

February 25, 2016

Though most of the performances of the evening were solely from vocalists, some of the performers showed versatility by playing with various different instruments. This added a refreshing amount of variety, and led to a handful of outstanding performances. Pianist and singer Billy Stritch performed in the first act, and the combination of his smooth vocals and stride-style piano was a welcome treat. The highlight of the evening for Stritch was “Comes Love” (Yokel Boy), which earned mid-song applause from the audience. Also showing versatility was Nellie McKay, who—at different times—performed on both the piano and the ukulele. McKay, who possesses a voice with an almost calm quality, is to be thanked for some of the more subtle, quiet, moments of the evening. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “A Funny Thing Happened: Songs from the Road to Broadway!”

January 12, 2016

Displaying her flawless vocal abilities, superb comic timing, dramatic range and exuberant presence, Ann Harada was the standout of the six-member company. She was in the original Broadway cast of "Avenue Q" and appeared in the recent Broadway production of "Cinderella." Her exquisite renditions included “Getting to Know You” from "The King and I," “Do You Love Me?” from" Fiddler on The Roof," “Sing Happy,” the 11:00 number from Flora The Red Menace, and “Distant Melody,” from "Peter Pan." Ms. Harada vividly demonstrated her delightful skills throughout. [more]

The Carnival of the Animals, featuring the poetry of Ogden Nash

December 29, 2015

The gifted puppeteer-dancers – Kristen Kammermeyer, Brendan McMahon, Justin Perkins, Rachael Shane – were barefoot and dressed in black; they moved with graceful economy of movement and made themselves into a fantastic combination of invisibility and magisterial artistry. They manipulated more than two dozen every-day-object puppets in gorgeous worlds of sky for birds, water for fish, field and forest for all sorts of creatures large and small. All these animals – made of sticks, brooms, mops, feather-dusters, cardboard-cut-outs, fabric scraps, familiar bits of this-and-that, and unexpected parts of who-knows-what – were right there in front of us. They leapt and loped, swooped and soared; they teased and pleased, tested, tormented and befriended each other and the narrator; they made each person in the audience – old and young, big and little – feel individually included in the menagerie's movements. [more]

The New York Pops Family Concert: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

December 24, 2015

Members of the classic Peanuts gang were voiced by students from TADA! Youth Theater. Joshua Andino-Nieto took on the role of Charlie Brown and was joined by Amanda Treibner who starred as Lucy and Michael Wells as Linus. The trio brought the wholesome characters to life as they recreated Charlie Brown’s journey to finding the meaning of Christmas, including the famous scene picking out his sad tree, played by the adorable Finley McElhinney – and made the audience fall in love with these friends all over again! [more]

The New York Pops: It’s Christmas Time in the City

December 22, 2015

Opening with a soaring symphonic “Deck the Halls” and then joined by the wonderful Essential Voices USA chorus for it, The New York Pops closed their concert, "It’s Christmas Time in the City,." with a rousing audience sing-a-long of “Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night.” In between, there was a delightful selection of classic and newer Christmas songs several performed by Broadway stars Stephanie J. Block and Brian d’Arcy James. Santa Claus and one of his elves also comically visited. Beaming music director Steven Reineke commandingly conducted the 78-piece orchestra and personably hosted this engaging presentation. [more]

Matthew Welch Music: Three Residency Concerts

December 18, 2015

At the 10:00 show on Wednesday, December 9, Welch played bagpipes with Brendon Randall-Myers on electric guitar and Brian Chase on drums and electronics performing "The Library of Babel," a 35 minute piece Welch composed in 1999. In a subsequent post-concert conversation, Welch indicated that the work of Jorge Luis Borges had been a foundational inspiration in his composing early in his career. This piece, titled to pay homage to Borges' astonishing 1941 story of the same name, is an immediately recognizable child of Borges. It is also, however, strong enough to stand on its own, meaningful and effective, even for listeners unfamiliar with the works of the Argentinian writer. [more]

The New York Pops: Sophisticated Ladies

November 19, 2015

In this centennial of the birth of jazz great Billie Holiday, The New York Pops November concert was devoted to Harlem Renaissance ladies like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington as well as Holiday. Titled "Sophisticated Ladies," the evening was graced by three dynamic guest artists, Montego Glover, Capathia Jenkins and Sy Smith, who have a tremendous affinity with this music, along with music director and conductor Steven Reineke who narrated the story of this spirited and electrifying music. Beginning with Sam Shoup’s orchestral arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and ending in a rousing encore of “Get Happy,” performed by all the artists, the evening brought the audience to its feet. [more]

Modern Art Orchestra

November 18, 2015

Founded in 2005 and led by Kornel Fekete-Kovacs, trumpeter and composer, the Budapest-based Modern Art Orchestra is a marvel. Its twenty musicians – five in the rhythm section (piano, percussion, guitar, double bass) and fifteen on horns of all sorts (saxophones, trombones, tuba, French horn, trumpets and flugelhorn) – form a tight, cohesive group, sharing features of big band brash and a chamber group's intimate connectedness. Many of the musicians played more than one instrument, even within the span of a single piece; in a few pieces, individual musicians had extended solos. At any given moment, if one or more players weren't playing, they were watching their colleagues with delight, bobbing the rhythms with their heads and tapping out the complicated syncopations with their feet. [more]

Broadway Close Up: William Finn

October 29, 2015

Two veterans of the most recent revival of On the Town were splendid interpreters of Finn’s songs. First, Stephen DeRosa conjured a second-rate out-of-town production of "March of the Falsettos" populated by egos and amateurs. He sang “The Baseball Game” brilliantly-and schizophrenically—taking on each character of this bitingly satirical song. Later he sang the scathing, sexually explicit “Republicans” in which a liberal gets even with a Republican in an unprintable way. Then his colleague Alysha Umphress sang a rousing “Set Those Sails” ("In Trousers") and “Change” ("A New Brain"), both songs dealing differently with moving on. Ms. Umphress’s “Song of the Full Refrigerator,” about the temptations of food—“eat first and get depressed later”—was scarily right on the money. [more]

The New York Pops: “My Favorite Things: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein”

October 15, 2015

The New York Pops’ 33rd season opened with a joyful tribute to one of the legendary songwriting teams of Broadway. Entitled “My Favorite Things: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein,” the evening featured guest artists American soprano Sierra Boggess and British baritone Julian Overden, along with Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA. All proved to have an affinity for this music which was greeted rapturously by the sold-out audience. [more]

The New York Pops with Pink Martini

August 13, 2015

The song that made Pink Martini famous, “Sympathique,” was performed early on and welcomed much applause. Performed by China Forbes, one of Martini’s resident vocalists, “Sympathique” is a genre bending song which received critical acclaim internationally. Though Forbes was one of featured performers of the evening, all the vocalists associated with Pink Martini were top notch. As a whole this was as well-polished an evening of standards that one could ask for. Other highlights include Storm Large’s charismatic performance of “Quizáas, Quizás, Quizás.” [more]

Another Hundred Years

August 11, 2015

“Papa” was the elder Theodore Bikel’s sobriquet to the younger members of the touring company of "Fiddler on The Roof." Mr. Bikel died at the age of 91 on July 21, 2015, and a warm and very well performed tribute to his life and career was the centerpiece of the splendid concert "Another Hundred Years," at 54 Below. Part of KulturfestNYC’s Encore Series, this show also celebrated the impact of Jewish songwriters on Broadway musicals and marked the centennial of The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene which co-produced it. This is the oldest continually performing Yiddish theater company in existence. [more]

The New York Pops at Forest Hills Stadium with Sutton Foster

August 11, 2015

“The epitomy of a true triple threat performer,” was how Mr. Reineke introduced Ms. Foster. “I’ve never been here or sung outside with a big orchestra before” was her sweet response to the huge audience response. First clad in a slinky blue dress, she later changed into a tailored gray tunic and then into a striking black gown with rhinestones. Her versatility was ever present as she opened with the thrilling Duke Ellington collaborative composition, “I’m Beginning to See The Light.” Then it was on to rollicking renditions of “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” from that Broadway revival for which she won her first Tony Award. [more]

Broadway Unplugged 2015

July 26, 2015

An astounding array of Broadway singers triumphantly performed without any electronic assistance at Scott Siegel’s Broadway Unplugged 2015 at The Town Hall. All were terrific. Several were magical. Most pre-1960’s shows were unamplified. The act of listening was different then. Technology has changed all that. Some believe performances are more nuanced today. Others miss the excitement of hearing “real” voices. Whatever one’s opinion, Scott Siegel assembled a program that clearly showed what we’ve been missing lately. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1991-2015 

June 26, 2015

Hobbling on crutches and with one injured leg encased in a large boot, all due to a recent automobile accident, Sahr Ngaujah made a dramatic entrance from the wings onto the stage of The Town Hall to appear at "Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1991-2015." Joined by the accomplished guitarist Ricardo Quinones, the charismatic Mr. Ngaujah passionately sang “Sorrow, Tears of Blood,” from 2009’s "Fela!" In which he starred. It was a galvanizing episode that came near the end of a concert that had been packed with powerhouse sequences. [more]

Cheyenne Jackson at The Town Hall

June 15, 2015

“It’s been a rough two years,” Mr. Jackson observed. Deaths in his family, a disintegrating romantic relationship, and becoming sober, were all detailed during his heavily autobiographical patter that was integral to this presentation. This quirkily handsome Broadway performer dazzled his fans with a variety of songs and personal anecdotes during this 95 minute presentation. Being openly gay has been characteristic of his career and this fact was expressed simply during his commentary. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “To Life! Celebrating 50 years of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ with Sheldon Harnick”

June 1, 2015

“Is there anything left to discuss? There IS!” exclaimed Rob Fisher, artistic director of the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series about "Fiddler on the Roof," in his introductory remarks to the concert “To Life! Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Fiddler on the Roof” with Sheldon Harnick.” A violinist and Klezmer clarinetist, who played tunes from that show, then joined him briefly before they settled in on stage with the other band members. The format of the presentation was to commemorate this milestone anniversary of that classic Broadway musical in a unique fashion. “Those expecting to hear the entire score of 'Fiddler on the Roof' will be very disappointed,” explained "Fiddler on the Roof"’s 91 year-old lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and the concert’s affable host. “These songs are twenty outtakes that were not heard in the final version.” [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1966 – 1990

May 14, 2015

“Life Is,” from the 1968 Kander and Ebb musical "Zorba" as grandly performed by it’s original Tony-nominated cast member, Lorraine Serabian, was the show stopping highlight of the historical survey concert, Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1966 – 1990. With fiery hued hair, in a flowing black dress, tied with an elaborate gold belt, Ms. Serabian, fabulously recreated her theatrical moment of glory with this hard-edged anthem. Her deep, rich, expressive voice was matched with intense facial expressions that ranged from fierce to joyous. Mesmerizing on all levels, her performance of this one song felt like an entire concert all by itself. She was initially the understudy in the show, and was picked by director Harold Prince to replace the first actress during the out-of-town tryouts. [more]

92 Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “All Dancing! All Singing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood”

May 5, 2015

Sandy Duncan and Don Correia, wearing shabby tuxedos, top hats, and Converse high top sneakers, beautifully dancing and singing, “A Couple of Swells,” was one of the many highlights of the 92 Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series’ "All Dancing! All Singing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood." Ms. Duncan and her husband Mr. Correia vibrantly demonstrated why they have had such enduring careers in show business, which have included a number of appearances on Broadway. Guest starring here, they effortlessly recreated that famous number from MGM’s 1948"Easter Parade," originally performed by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, who replaced the injured Gene Kelly. The tune itself dated from 1917, when it had the unpopular title and lyrics, “Smile, and Show Your Dimple.” [more]

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan: An Evening of Indian Music

April 23, 2015

Shahid Parvez Khan comes from a long line – seven generations – of musicians and sitar masters. This fact is emphasized in both the musician's own and the World Music Institute publicity materials. Shahid Parvez Khan's ancestry is critically important for those who are well versed in both historical and contemporary Indian culture and music, but for those who know little about Indian music, it figures only as an interesting biographical fact. What is much more relevant to the listening experience is Shahid Parvez Khan's assertion that “the Sitar and Self are identical entities,” a statement confirmed by the experience of simultaneously watching and listening to the sitar player as well as his colleagues. [more]

The New York Pops: “Let’s Be Frank”

April 14, 2015

December 12, 2015 marks the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s singing career spanned seven decades starting in the 30’s until shortly before his death in 1998, winning him eleven Grammy Awards. Even those born after his death know his iconic songs such as “Love and Marriage,” which was used as the theme song of the TV sitcom Married with Children. Sinatra is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He is considered by many to be "the greatest singer of the 20th century.” Led by the energetic and creative Music Director Steven Reineke, The New York Pops Presents "Let’s Be Frank" affectionately and admirably paid tribute to the prolific and unique singing career of Frank Sinatra with the help of four robust and polished guest singers, Storm Large, Tony DeSare, Frankie Moreno and Ryan Silverman. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1941-1965

April 4, 2015

In the course of Mr. Siegel’s erudite remarks, the work of key figures responsible for these often classic musicals recurred. Composer and lyricist Cole Porter was represented by four shows, composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II by three shows, as was composer Jule Styne. Most monumental was the achievement of legendary producer David Merrick who was responsible for bringing five of the shows to Broadway. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “New York: Songs of the City”

March 31, 2015

Lyrics & Lyricists artistic director Deborah Grace Winer was the show’s host. Charming, and with dry humor and passion, Ms. Winer delivered informative and entertaining commentary between songs. Her funny material included riffs on Seinfeld, the high cost of pastrami, and King Kong climbing The Empire State Building: “Not everyone makes it in New York.” [more]

New York Pops: “One Night Only: Sutton Foster”

March 19, 2015

The concert’s triumph was due largely to its headliner, the incomparable Sutton Foster. Since her Tony Award-winning portrayal of the title character in the 2002 Broadway production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, she has proven herself to be one of the most versatile leading ladies to grace the Great White Way. Her brassy, yet lithe voice soared over the melodies of Cole Porter classics; her feet glided precisely across choreographer Michelle Elkin’s tap number (yes, a tap number at a New York Pops concert!); and her storytelling chops shone during heartrending takes on a couple of choice Sondheim ballads. She is a true triple threat in a way that most, if not all, of her Broadway diva contemporaries simply are not. [more]

Composer Portraits: Augusta Read Thomas, with JACK Quartet and Third Coast Percussion

March 15, 2015

Recently, as part of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Composer Portrait series, Augusta Read Thomas was briefly interviewed between performances of recent and new works for string quartet and percussion. The first half of the program featured the world premiere of Capricci for violin and viola (2014) and of Selene for percussion quartet and string quartet (2015) as well as “Invocations” from Sun Threads for string quartet (1999). The second half of the program began with an informal interview between Thomas and percussionist David Skidmore and then concluded with the New York premiere of Resounding Earth. [more]

JACK Quartet: Georg Friedrich Haas’ Quartet No. 8, U.S. premiere

March 9, 2015

The structure of the early evening concert was simple, sensible, intimate … and exhilarating. The JACK Quartet was seated on the stage, as were several rows of spectators; more spectators were in the auditorium proper. The concert consisted of three parts: first came the world premiere of the new twenty-minute quartet, then an informal discussion by the composer, then the second performance of the new quartet. What a treat, to hear a new work … twice! [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940

February 28, 2015

Director Mindy Cooper’s very well executed transitions between the show’s 27 numbers, the personable Scott Siegel’s erudite remarks, and the variety of gifted performers who participated made "Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940" a brisk and very enjoyable event. [more]

92nd Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Here’s to The Girls!: Hollywood’s Leading Ladies”

February 9, 2015

Mr. Busch, known as a playwright of campy homages to old movies in which he often plays female roles, was an appropriate and authoritative host. For most of the proceedings, he sat off to the side wearing male attire wryly reading the often affectionate commentary. He chronicled the history of the Hollywood musical, its stars, its songwriters and its studios. This background material described the distinctive cinematic styles of the major studios, and the idiosyncratic moguls who ruled them. The musical movie histories of Warner Brothers, MGM, Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Columbia were detailed. Well-selected illustrative slides and film clips were projected above the orchestra. [more]
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