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Music

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]

Clara

May 5, 2015

On the evening of this performance under review, the audience was treated to a rare surprise: Victoria Bond, writer of the music, was not only present but was also the conductor for the evening. Gramercy Trio, under Bond’s musical direction, skillfully maneuvered through the score. Filled with atonal and complex orchestrations, Bond’s music strikes a fine balance between some very vibrant and cheery melodies followed by quite a few haunting and more chaotic progressions which coincide with the show’s climax. [more]

Anna Clyne: Composer Portraits at the Miller Theatre

May 5, 2015

Clyne's music is a combination of electronic and recorded material on the one hand and live performance on the other. In both process and product, Clyne incorporates and is inspired by other creative media; her works can “stand alone” or in conjunction with their original collaborators. Two works originally conceived in collaboration were performed on April 23 “on their own.” Fits + Starts for amplified cello and tape (2003) was performed without dancers; Rapture for clarinet and tape (2005) was presented without the visual components that accompanied its original performances. [more]

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc

April 27, 2015

The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc consists of Olav Luksengard Mjelva from Norway (hardanger and octave fiddles), Kevin Henderson from Shetland (fiddle) and Anders Hall from Sweden (fiddle and viola); the three met informally through mutual friends and colleagues and have been playing together seriously for some five years. Each artist has an extensive and stellar career apart from and in addition to Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. They live their professional lives in overlapping spheres of teaching and composing as well as collaborating, recording and performing with other artists and groups. As the competently English speaking Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, they have developed a congenial performance style that alternates humorously self-deprecating but helpfully informative banter with individual “tunes.” The evening had the feel of both formal concert and calmly funky gig. [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]

New York Choral Society and The Mannes Orchestra: For Those We’ve Loved 

April 16, 2015

The Hindemith was beautifully performed and the second half of the concert was successful. But the first half, the Adams, was not a success. It was not an abject failure – Hayes wouldn't permit that – but the performance did not produce the kind of considered satisfaction that New York Choral Society concerts typically do. The reasons for this lay in the nature of Adams' piece and in particular features of the performance itself. [more]

Handel and Haydn Society Bicentennial in Boston: A Distinguished Past Inspires a Bold Future

April 14, 2015

The Handel and Haydn Society – sometimes called the H + H Society, for contemporaneity's sake – is celebrating its Bicentennial with a number of special short-term and long-term events and programs. One of these, most recently, was the sponsorship of a Music Critics Association of North America Institute, a two-day long immersion for eleven MCANA members in the current life of the H + H Society. The informative, intelligent and extremely well-organized Institute was conceived primarily by Marie-Helene Bernard, H + H's Executive Director since 2007, and administered with graceful, quietly effective attention to detail by Matthew Erikson, H + H's Public Relations and Communications Manager. The MCANA Institute provided opportunities for learning and robust exchanges of insights and ideas; it was an affirmation of the H + H Society's place in the contemporary world of classical music. Though the purposes of the MCANA Institute were primarily musical, it also provided access to information about the Society's positive, effective engagement in the cultural life of Boston as a whole. [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]

The Tempest Songbook

April 8, 2015

Gotham Chamber Opera's hour-long program at the Metropolitan Museum, entitled "The Tempest Songbook," took these truisms into account by alternating Shakespeare settings by the contemporary Finnish master Kajia Saariaho, with Baroque-era settings attributed to Purcell. Those who found Saariaho's language unfamiliar or taxing were given a reassuring figured bass to fall back on, while those who found the typical Baroque Aria da Capo form tediously repetitious were never more than a few minutes away from the next of Saariaho's elegant and colorful modernist miniatures. Soprano Jennifer Zetlan and bass-baritone Thomas Richards were both excellent, sounding completely at ease and consistently expressive in this sometimes challenging music. The ensemble of Baroque instruments was conducted with élan by Neal Goren, and the production directed and choreographed elegantly by Luca Veggetti. [more]

Handel and Haydn Society: Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”

April 7, 2015

As part of their splendid yearlong Bicentennial Celebrations, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston have been presenting major choral works that have figured prominently in the Society's long distinguished history. In March 2015, in the very depths of Lent, the featured work was Bach's extraordinary "St. Matthew Passion." Any successful performance of this monumental work demands elegant artistic discipline and a coherent intellectual and creative vision; the Handel + Haydn Society's Artistic Director and Conductor, Harry Christophers, the Handel + Haydn Society Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus, the six wonderful soloists, and the Vocal Arts Program Young Women's Chamber Choir and Young Men's Chorus all effectively brought the necessary rigorous musicianship and artistic clarity to this performance. The result was indeed wonderful. [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]

Parthenia Viol Consort: Harp & Viols – Early Works, Plus a World Premiere by Eleonor Sandresky

March 31, 2015

Eleonor Sandresky is not the first composer to be attracted to Parthenia's affinity for collaboration with contemporary music-writers. Her new piece, “John Donne Songs Without Words,” was written for and with Parthenia and Patton, as Sandresky herself explained in her brief introduction of the piece to the March 22 audience. Sandresky builds on these musicians' ability to make their instruments accomplish everything that Baroque composers expected them to as well as much that their seventeenth century sensibilities would never have imagined. Sandresky assumes, as well, these musicians' wide-ranging intellectual literacy, their willing ability to stretch their performance skills and purposes, and their exceptionally good-willed, down-to-earth lack of pretense. [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]

American Classical Orchestra: “As the Masters Heard It, Music by Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert”

March 22, 2015

The pieces chosen by Crawford for this concert represented the very best of the Viennese Classical period: each piece in the evening's repertoire was a unique marriage of deep drama and expansive beauty. On this evening, the particular mission of the American Classical Orchestra – to play European masterpieces of orchestral music on period instruments – was brilliantly clear in both purpose and effect. Designed to enable audiences to hear what composers, their musicians and their audiences actually heard two or three centuries ago, this orchestra transported contemporary audiences back in time, revealing what the edginess and innovation of the past first sounded like. [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]

Stile Antico: “From the Imperial Court”

March 12, 2015

Stile Antico's February 28 concert, part of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Early Music series, at the Times Square Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, was marvelous. Stile Antico sang thrillingly; their choice of repertoire – sixteenth century Renaissance a cappella music associated with the Hapsburg imperial court … the core content of the 2014 CD – was artistically exciting and intellectually rewarding. [more]

The 30th Annual Bistro Awards

March 9, 2015

Beaming Broadway musical comedy veteran, Lee Roy Reams presented the final honor, the ASCAP Major Engagement Award to Lillias White. “My grandmother’s table was my cabaret,” she recalled about the beginning of her long and successful career. In a full-out performance, she then recreated her Tony Award-winning role as an aging prostitute, from the 1997 Broadway musical The Life, with her signature song, “The Oldest Profession.” It was a commanding and fitting finale to this exuberant event. [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]

Sisyphus

March 1, 2015

"Sisyphus" played at the Abrons Arts Center this February, the newest avant-garde production from Experiments In Opera. Composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, and Matthew Welch (acting as their own librettists) created a promising concept for an opera, with a cultural abundance of Greek myth at their disposal to create a beautiful libretto. However, this world premiere was a case of more tragedy, full of missed opportunities, rather than inspiring. [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]

TheaterScene.net Cabaret Honors: A First Annual List

February 23, 2015

The eclectic world of cabaret is unique in the entertainment industry. It allows artists' to connect with an audience in an intimate setting. Today, the clubs are ripe with new, rising and mature talents and the beginners who want to make it. But, who are today's torchbearers? Who will make their mark? And, who will take cabaret into its next phase? Time will tell. [more]

The New York Virtuoso Singers: “The Many Faces of Love”

February 22, 2015

Leading The New York Virtuoso Singers with characteristic wit, panache and artistic integrity, Harold Rosenbaum presented an a cappella evening of a songs about love – from its first beginnings to its very end, with every bit of flirtation, fun, fornication, fancy and foolishness in-between – at Merkin Concert Hall, bringing considerable warmth to a happy audience on a cold, cold February night. [more]

Voices of Ascension: Fauré Requiem and Music from the Russian Orthodox Tradition

February 20, 2015

The second half of the concert consisted of Fauré's Requiem. This familiar, deeply loved work – an examination of requiem themes that is more about interior considerations of mortality than about cosmic confrontations with hell or pleas for salvation – depends for its success on clear, clean musicianship. The shimmery delicacy and complex harmonic richness of Fauré's music were brilliantly served on this evening by the Voices of Ascension … as they always have been: the Fauré Requiem has been a signature piece of this chorus since its creation twenty-five years ago. In this performance, soprano Sarah Shafer and bass-baritone Evan Hughes both brought a deeply personal sense of prayer to their singing. Shafer's “Pie Jesu” was intimate without being sentimental, and ethereally beautiful. Hughes sang with unrestrained and eloquent passion. [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]

Yungchen Lhamo

February 9, 2015

Though Lhamo has absorbed all sorts of Western musical idioms and made them her own, her voice is distinct in its range of octaves and volumes and in its gorgeous ability to make both human and nature sounds that Western singers wouldn't permit themselves to attempt. Lhamo's musical origins are identifiably Tibetan, but the accumulation of her human and artistic experience has made of both her voice and her intentions something entirely her own. [more]

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]
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