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Music

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]

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]
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