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Music

New York Choral Society and Orchestra: Felix Mendelssohn’s “St. Paul” 

February 3, 2015

Led by David Hayes, Music Director, the New York Choral Society and Orchestra, together with first rate soloists and the Princeton Girlchoir, presented a magnificent performance of Felix Mendelssohn's magisterial 1836 oratorio "St. Paul" on January 25, 2015 in Carnegie Hall. Mendelssohn's oratorio is a huge work; on this afternoon, the work's sweeping monumentality was fully realized without any loss of musical subtlety, nuance or detail. From beginning to end, chorus and orchestra alike presented the music they cleared loved with unflagging energy and endlessly renewed, fresh passion. [more]

Cafe Society Swing

December 30, 2014

This holiday season the 59E59 Theaters is hosting a special cabaret, Cafe Society Swing, in tribute to a historic cafe which thrived back in the1940’s, one that defied conventional wisdom at a time when vanilla and chocolate didn't mix and red was a very scary color. Known as the Cafe Society Downtown, it was the first club of its kind in New York City and possibly in the country to feature white and black artists performing on stage together before an integrated audience. Not only that, mixed couples were seen dancing and even leaving together. Shocking as this was back then, Cafe Society appealed to the elite and became the big hot spot in town. Even Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Robeson and Errol Flynn were known to stop in. Proprietor Barney Josephson referred to it in his memoir as "the wrong place for the Right people" and it is this work that inspired the making of Cafe Society Swing which is as much about the club's owner and his family as it is about the talent he brought to its doors. The Downtown club was an extraordinary place. Legendary for its jazz and blues, it produced a lot of stars: Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Zero Mostel, Big Joe Turner, Count Basie, Carol Channing and Sid Caesar among them. [more]

Mimi Stern-Wolfe & Laura Wolfe: An Evening of Song from Second Avenue by Two New York Originals

December 28, 2014

The crowd at The Pangea was in for a real treat when a unique mother/daughter act from the neighborhood performed a number of musical selections complete with stories that were nostalgic to this quaint, historic community on the Lower East Side. Mimi Stern-Wolfe began the 90-minute cabaret by recounting the tale of a Russian immigrant from the old days who used to come in from the Bronx to frequent the nearby Yiddish Theater. He went by the name of Bronstein. After a time, he left to go back to Russia to, as he put it, overthrow Kerensky. He turned out to be none other than Leon Trotsky. The theater later became the Children's Musical Theater where a little girl named Laura Wolfe took to the stage and a star was born. [more]

The New York Pops: Kelli and Matthew: Home for the Holidays

December 28, 2014

While it may have been “Cold Outside” on the streets of New York City, the interior of Carnegie Hall was warm and cozy during Kelli and Matthew: Home for the Holidays, this year’s seasonal event hosted by The New York Pops. Opening their set list of holiday favorites with Frank Loesser’s classic cat-and-mouse carol, concert headliners Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison—previously Broadway costars in The Light in the Piazza as well as the 2010 South Pacific revival—set the tone for a lovely, festive evening. Pulling out all the stops, the duo made sure that the audience had its fill of classic songs and Christmas spirit. [more]

The Cecilia Chorus of New York: Poulenc’s “Gloria” & Vaughan Williams’ “Hodie, A Christmas Cantata”

December 22, 2014

Singing to a happily packed Carnegie Hall, the Cecilia Chorus of New York, led by music director and conductor Mark Shapiro, presented two masterpieces of mid-twentieth century choral music. Francis Poulenc's "Gloria" (1960), though not written explicitly for the Christmas season, is a perfect celebration of it. Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Hodie, A Christmas Cantata" (1954), in contrast, is an anthology-style oratorio about Christmas itself, the very day of Jesus' birth. Different in style and national origin, the two works nonetheless complement each other, presenting Christmas joy from a variety of perspectives. [more]

New York Festival of Song: “Harlem Renaissance”

December 18, 2014

The Merkin Concert Hall of the Kaufman Music Center was packed on a recent cold December evening; the audience, happily anticipating two hours of fabulous music, was not disappointed. Five musicians – pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, soprano Julia Bullock, tenor Darius de Haas and baritone James Martin – presented 24 carefully chosen pieces of music from the Harlem Renaissance in a concert of marvelous music-making. The singers inhabited their songs so completely that their singing was not about interpretation, but identity. The pianists were equal partners in the music, not mere accompanists. The audience applause, together with their Ohhs and Ahhs and slowly expelled breaths of marveling gratitude, created an atmosphere of receptivity that greeted and thanked the musicians before and after every song. [more]

Slow Dusk & Markheim

December 11, 2014

Two one-act operas by Carlisle Floyd are being presented by The Little Opera Theater of NY, newly arranged for chamber orchestra. One is a very early work, the other is mature, and for those who are interested in the material this is a worthwhile presentation of music you're unlikely to encounter elsewhere anytime soon. [more]

El gato con botas

December 10, 2014

Whether you regularly go to the opera or not, the Gotham Chamber Opera and Tectonic Theater Project's co-production of El gato con botos is an enchanting theater event that will leaving you smiling. It is also an extremely clever use of multimedia sure to amaze all theatergoers. Moisés Kaufman proves himself to be an ingenious director of music theater. [more]

Baby Jane Dexter: “Rules of the Road (Part 3)”

December 5, 2014

In her deep, bluesy contralto style, she belted out about 15 songs; they were not all melancholy, though. She started out with an uplifting "I'm in Love Again" and ended with "Forever Young." One of the more touching numbers was "Reach Out, I'll Be There." She also sang a quite lengthy "I'm a Woman" about a girl becoming a woman and she did a version of "Dame." She sang tunes by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Cy Coleman & Peggy Lee, Peter Allen & Carol Bayer Sager, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Leslie Bricusse, Billy Roy, Leiber & Stoller, Mike Scott, Randy Newman, and John Bucchino. [more]

Sally Darling: “Matters of the Heart”

December 3, 2014

Sally was darling in "Matters of the Heart" at Don't Tell Mama on Manhattan's 46th Street. She sang her heart out in a moving tribute to those things that pull at the heartstrings of our lives and just in time for Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season when people reflect on matters they hold dear. She made the lyrics come alive with her great interpretative skills, taking her audience to places that perhaps they had not visited in a while, where major events happened in their lives, places where, whether happy or sad, they felt something. [more]

American Classical Orchestra and Chorus: Mass in B Minor

November 22, 2014

One of the strengths of this performance was in fact the clarity with which the many elements of Bach's music could be heard: without any compromise to tempo and without favoring any theme, instrument or voice over any other, Bach's music was unpacked. Because of the period instruments – and the skill of the musicians – even the most densely monumental passages, including the final movements, were powerful not because they were monolithic but because they were revelatory. Subtleties were not lost but illuminated. [more]

New York Pops: “By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra”

November 17, 2014

The New York Pops are the perfect antidote for those who suspect orchestral music to be dull or tedious. Proving again that celebrity performers are not needed to fill performance venues, Steven Reineke and his orchestra brought Carnegie Hall to life with their second installment in what is shaping into a rather exciting season. With adoring regard By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra truly had two stars, the orchestra itself and the music of seven time-honored composers. [more]

Chelsea Opera: The Face on the Barroom Floor & Emperor Norton

November 15, 2014

Since its composition and premiere in 1978, "The Face on the Barroom Floor" has been a familiar piece in the repertoire of small American and European opera companies for good reason: it is an accessible, well-conceived and lovely work. "Emperor Norton," written just four years later, is even stronger than The Face: it is more substantive musically, artistically and intellectually. This performance was "Emperor Norton"'s New York premiere. [more]

A Wake and a Wedding

November 11, 2014

Encompass New Opera Theatre, under longtime director Nancy Rhodes, is presenting the East Coast premiere of Richard Pearson Thomas's chamber opera A Wake or a Wedding at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. The opera is a burlesque of 19th Century melodrama, with stereotypical characters and a series of silly 'revelations' to resolve the convoluted plot. The music uses an accessible mid-century modernist style, conservative but not inappropriately so. [more]

Barb Jungr: Hard Rain

November 3, 2014

In "Hard Rain," Jungr performs songs which capture the artists' views on subjects involving what she calls the three "P"s: philosophical, political, and personal. These are the issues that pulled the heartstrings of Dylan and Cohen and were the driving force behind most of their lyrics written back in the tumultuous 60's. [more]

Sichuan Opera Theater of Chengdu: Raging Waves in the Sea of Desire

November 1, 2014

Acclaimed playwright Xiu Fen – one of China's most influential contemporary women writers – takes Eugene O'Neill's setting and opening plot elements, transforming Puritan New England into a small Chinese village, and focuses on the cruel, miserly old man, his new, very young and beautiful wife, and the young son who enters into an adulterous affair with his father's bride. O'Neill himself, writing stunningly innovative plays in the early twentieth century, looked to ancient Greek tragedies for his inspiration and to tragedy's archetypal figures. [more]

He Wrote Good Songs: A Life of Anthony Newley

October 29, 2014

Jon Peterson's dazzling performance in "He Wrote The Good Songs" will enthrall admirers of Anthony Newley and joyously enlighten those interested in show business that are unfamiliar with him. These are all interspersed with very well chosen and delivered biographical reminiscences that are addressed to the audience. Included is a hilarious recounting of the nine-month film shoot of Dr. Doolittle, and unpleasant co-star Rex Harrison "who was bitten by every animal" and nicknamed "Tyrannosaurs Rex" by the crew. Through expert mimicry Peterson also portrays various figures from Newley's life such as his parents, a stuffy teacher, and producer David Merrick. [more]

New York Pops: All You Need Is Love: The Music of The Beatles

October 28, 2014

Despite the sometimes-questionable song selection and orchestration choices, All You Need Is Love upheld the New York Pops' well-established standard of excellence. Reineke's unparalleled expertise and steady hand provide evenings of culture, history and entertainment time and time again. [more]

Voices of the Tarantate

October 28, 2014

Choosing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month as the time to premiere her Voices of the Tarantate, internationally acclaimed Italian singer and dancer Alessandra Belloni led her dance troupe, Daughters of Cybele, with additional dancers and performers, in a remarkable performance whose purpose was to examine the annihilating violence of domestic sexual abuse, to identify the rituals of song, dance and folk traditions that can heal the pain, and to celebrate rebirth, wholeness and sanctifying joy. [more]

Gotham Chamber Opera: Alexandre bis & Comedy on the Bridge

October 26, 2014

Since 2001, Gotham Chamber Opera has specialized in the production of major operas – well known, not known, new, traditional, experimental – and has developed a reputation for intelligence and a consistently high level of artistic integrity. This pair of Martinu comic operas, sung by an enthusiastic young cast performing on a gorgeously set stage, preserves Gotham Chamber Opera's fine reputation. [more]

Richard Holbrook: The Untapped Fred Astaire Revisited

October 24, 2014

The debonair Holbrook sang his way down memory lane with his enchanting voice and interesting stories about Astaire that he shared in-between songs, many showing a side to the man that is relatively unknown. This is one of the aspects of the show that makes it intriguing and a must-see for those who appreciate the talents of this widely respected artist.  

Most remember Fred Astaire for his singing and dancing, and for his movie roles, but there was much more to the man. [more]

Parthenia Viol Consort presents “For Ye Violls”

October 17, 2014

English baroque court music is steeped in contradictions. It is both intimate and public; it is conventional and playful; it is topical and occasional on the one hand and non-specifically accessible on the other. Lawes inherited these basic contradictions together with the demanding formal features of traditional musical genres. Within these constraints, he was so daringly inventive that artistic freedom is ultimately more his signature than genre or time period. [more]

Rococo Rouge

September 20, 2014

    Shelly Watson on mike and company members in a scene from Rococo Rouge (Photo credit: [more]

The Power of Love: Two New Operatic Musicals

September 20, 2014

it was almost entirely slow music, and over 90 minutes of it, something which might give even a Wagnerian pause. This is billed as a new piece, so perhaps it's not too late to suggest that the authors consider some discreet compression, as the opera might benefit from judicious cuts. It takes perhaps half an hour to read the original story, and its brevity is one reason for its effectiveness; but this was more than three times that length, though the original Hawthorne plot has been only very slightly expanded. [more]

Marilyn Maye: The 14th Annual Kathryn W. Stein Memorial Concert

June 30, 2014

"I've been a pauper, a poet—no! That's not right! How does it go?" she feigned confusion as the audience called out lyrics before she launched into a rollicking "That's Life." Having seen the original cast of My Fair Lady, she was transfixed at observing Rex Harrison on the street soon after and "stalked him" she recounted before singing a touching "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" and a jazzy "On the Street Where You Live." [more]

The Tender Land

June 28, 2014

Strongest in the cast were Ms. Brittingham as Laurie and Mr. Fredericks as Grandpa. Some of the other singers were defeated by the church acoustics, and director Lynne Hayden-Findlay did what she could with the impossibly tiny playing area. Conductor Samuel McCoy kept everything running smoothly and the ensemble sounded well. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1990 – 2014

June 23, 2014

Two sensational sequences were dances from Forever Tango and Swing! Mark Stuart and Mindy Wallace breathtakingly did a super sensual "Libertango," climaxing with him tossing and catching her a few times. "Don't try that at home," joked Siegel. "Sing, Sing, Sing" appeared in Swing! and Fosse, both in 1999, and was aggressively and euphorically tapped and choreographed by charismatic Jimmy Sutherland. [more]

Peggy Eason: “I’ll Show Them All!”

June 15, 2014

Award-winning director Lennie Watts lived up to his reputation for his part in making the night a success and acclaimed musical director Steven Ray Watkins brought the piano to life with his accompaniment to her songs. [more]

Waking in New York

June 8, 2014

The three sopranos, Compassion, Freedom I and Freedom II, whether singing alone or in various combinations, functioned as the voices of Ginsberg's muses, embodying individual threads of Ginsberg's philosophical preoccupations and convictions. [more]
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