LSM Newswire

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bernstein Opens NY Festival Of Song 9/23






New York Festival Of Song (NYFOS,, co-founded and directed by pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, who "reinvented the song recital during the 1990's with daring and dramatic programming" (The New Yorker), announces its 21st season (2008-2009).

The company's New York City concerts begin on September 23 at the newly renovated Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, with A Bernstein / Bolcom Celebration. The concert pays tribute to two of NYFOS's guiding lights, Leonard Bernstein and William Bolcom; Bolcom and his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, will cap the evening with a selection of songs from their vast repertoire. The program also celebrates the ninetieth birthday of NYFOS's Founding Advisor, Leonard Bernstein, who bestowed the American premiere of his last work, Arias and Barcarolles, to the newly-formed company. Their subsequent recording of the work in 1989, with Judy Kaye and William Sharp, earned the composer a posthumous Grammy Award for Best New Composition.

Other concert programs this year include Fugitives (Nov. 18 and 20), works by composers who fled Europe during Hitler's rise to power; Voices of the Jewish Diaspora (Feb. 10 and 12), songs in many languages from the worldwide Jewish community; Songs of the Irish Poets, scheduled for St. Patrick's Day, featuring the lyricism of the Emerald Isle's greatest writers set to music by Beethoven, Britten and others; and The Welcome Shore (May 19 and 21), songs of rivers and oceans, by composers ranging from Brahms to Nol Coward. Special events include Latin Lovers (January 14), the fourth annual NYFOS@Juilliard concert. The collaboration between NYFOS and The Juilliard School's Vocal Arts Department celebrates the students' creative energy and superior vocal talent; alumni of the program have begun to participate in NYFOS's regular season concerts. NYFOS will also have a Gala Concert on April 17 at Weill Recital Hall, program to be announced.

In December, 2008, Bridge Records will release an original cast recording of John Musto's Bastianello and William Bolcom's Lucrezia, the critically acclaimed one-act comic operas commissioned and premiered by NYFOS last season. Both operas have librettos by Mark Campbell. Bastianello is a family fable of love and folly based on a poignant Italian folk tale; Lucrezia retells Machiavelli's La Mandragola from the point of view of its wise and captivating heroine. This wickedly funny seduction story is set in Argentina "A Latin American zarzuela as imagined by the Marx Brothers," according to the composer. The recording features soprano Lisa Vroman, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Paul Appleby, baritone Patrick Mason and bass Matt Boehler, with pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett.

Curtain time for all concerts is 8 PM. Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center is at 129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023. Single tickets are available by calling (212) 501-3330, or visiting Student discounts are available. Free tickets for the January 14 concert at Juilliard will be available at The Juilliard School's box office beginning January 5.

Guest artists at NYFOS for 2008-2009 include mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, the Lucrezia in Bastianello / Lucrezia last spring, and soon to sing Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera's New York Premiere of Doctor Atomic; mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, who will be seen as Cherubino and in many other roles at the Metropolitan this season; tenor Joseph Kaiser, the Tamino of the Kenneth Branagh film version of The Magic Flute, and Narraboth in the Met's Salome this year as well as at Covent Garden; soprano Dina Kuznetsova, featured in NYFOS's Obsession la Russe, who will star as Alice Ford in a new production of Falstaff at Glyndebourne, and will appear with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham, who will be featured in opera and concert at Paris' Theatre de la Champs-lyses and the Lucerne Festival.

On its touring schedule, NYFOS brings Bastianello / Lucrezia, the acclaimed double-bill of one-act comic operas by William Bolcom and John Musto with librettos by Mark Campbell, to the Moab Music Festival in Utah on September 5; The Last Time I Saw Paris, French song from The Jazz Age to post-World War II, to the Robbie Colomore Concert Series in Chester, Connecticut (October 26) and the Andover Chamber Music Series in Massachusetts (November 9); Fugitives to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., presented by the Vocal Arts Society (November 14); Voices of the Jewish Diaspora to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland at College Park (February 15); and Songs of the Irish Poets to the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, NY (March 14), which culminates a week-long professional training residency, Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars, sponsored by and presented at Caramoor. Leading the week's events will be NYFOS artistic directors and pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett who will be working with a select group of young singers from around the country invited to participate in this auspicious project. The program will be repeated as part of NYFOS's New York City 2008-2009 concert season at Merkin Concert Hall on March 17, 2009.
The initial season of the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars Program will be underwritten, in part, by The Terrance W. Schwab Fund for Young Vocal Artists.


Tuesday and Thursday, SEPTEMBER 23 & 25, 2008
Merkin Concert Hall
"A Bernstein / Bolcom Celebration"
A tribute to two of New York Festival of Song's guiding lights, Leonard Bernstein and William Bolcom, quintessential American composers and great spirits who have long provided wisdom, guidance, and music to NYFOS. Songs from Bernstein's Peter Pan, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Songfest, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Arias and Barcarolles; Bolcom's Cabaret Songs, I Will Breathe a Mountain, Briefly It Enters, McTeague; and a special appearance by Joan Morris and William Bolcom, who will share signature songs from their repertoire.
Artists: Sari Gruber, soprano; Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano; Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano; Rene Tatum, mezzo-soprano; Alex Mansoori, tenor; William Sharp, baritone; Marc Webster, bass; William Bolcom, Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, piano

Tuesday and Thursday, NOVEMBER 18 & 20, 2008
Merkin Concert Hall
An evening of songs from the concert stage, the movies, Broadway, and Berlin's cabarets that trace the varied fortunes of the gifted composers who fled destruction during Hitler's rise to power--some to begin new lives and brilliant careers abroad, others to meet with darker fates. Music by Kurt Weill, Franz Schreker, Arnold Zemlinsky, Kurt Tucholsky, Erich Korngold, Hanns Eisler, Friedrich Hollaender, Emmerich Klmn, and many others.
Artists: Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano; Joseph Kaiser, tenor; Steven Blier, piano

Peter Jay Sharp Auditorium at The Juilliard School
"Latin Lovers: An Evening of Cuban and South American Song," the fourth annual NYFOS@Juilliard concert.
Songs by Guastavino, Astor Piazzolla, Carlos Lpez-Buchardo, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Ernesto Lecuona, and many others.

Tuesday and Thursday, FEBRUARY 10 & 12, 2009
Merkin Concert Hall
"Voices of the Jewish Diaspora"
Songs in many languages celebrate the culturally diverse Jewish communities that flourished as the tribes of Israel spread out across the globe. Sephardic melodies arranged by Alberto Hemsi and Roberto Sierra; Second Avenue specialties by Irving Berlin and Joseph Rumshinsky; art songs by Ravel, Milhaud, and Rubinstein; plus music by Gershwin and Bernstein.
Artists: Dina Kuznetsova, soprano; Rinat Shaham, mezzo-soprano; Steven Goldstein, tenor; Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, piano

Tuesday, MARCH 17, 2009
Merkin Hall
"Songs of the Irish Poets"
The lyricism of the Emerald Isle's greatest writers, including Thomas Moore, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Paul Muldoon, as set to music by Beethoven, Britten, Balfe, Barber and others; with a group of traditional Irish songs featuring the fiddle playing of Paul Woodiel.
Artists: Paul Appleby, tenor; other members of Caramoor's Terrence W. Schwab Vocal Rising Stars Program; Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, piano

Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
Spring Gala
Program TBA

Tuesday and Thursday, MAY 19 & 21, 2009
Merkin Concert Hall
"The Welcome Shore"
A hymn to rivers and oceans stirs the heart and the imagination as the summer season draws near. Music by Elgar (the magnificent Sea Pictures), Faur, Guastavino, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Nol Coward, Pauline Viardot, and many others.
Artists: Michelle Areyzaga, soprano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Philip Cutlip, baritone; Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, piano

New York Festival of Song
was founded in 1988 by Steven Blier and Michael Barrett. NYFOS is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty, humor and originality, combining music, poetry, and history to entertain, educate and create community among audiences and performers. With a far-ranging repertoire of art songs, concert works and theater pieces, its thematic recitals have included programs from Brahms to the Beatles, from the nineteenth-century salons of Paris to Tin Pan Alley, from Russian art song to Argentine tangos, from sixteenth-century lute songs to new music. NYFOS particularly celebrates American song literature and culture, and specializes in premiering and commissioning new American works. They have produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, as well as the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen on New World Records, and the Bridge Records release of the NYFOS program Spanish Love Songs. NYFOS's concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities have inspired a new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

Artistic Director Steven Blier has programmed, performed, translated and annotated over 100 song programs with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney. In addition, Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. Among the many artists he has partnered in recital are Rene Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham and Frederica von Stade. Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett is also the CEO of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and General Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival. In 1992 Mr. Barrett and his wife Leslie Tomkins founded The Moab Music Festival in Utah, for which he serves as music director. He has conducted major orchestras here and abroad in the symphonic, operatic, and dance repertoire, and is the former director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y. Mr. Barrett has conducted and played premieres by Bernstein, Blitzstein, Bolcom, Kernis, Sellars, Harrison, Takemitsu, Del Tredici and John Corigliano.

Funding for the Bastianello / Lucrezia CD release on Bridge Records was provided by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Commission and first performance of Bastianello by John Musto and Mark Cambell and Lucrezia by William Bolcom and Mark Campbell by New York Festival of Song, Inc. were supported by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

NYFOS's New York City concert series is funded, in part, by the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.

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