No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Michael Barrett

The 2017-2018 season was (is) our 30th at the New York Festival of Song. We’ve managed to cover quite a bit of ground. There were early celebrations of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday in the fall and the winter (the Lenny celebrations officially began on his 99th birthday), and one of NY’s only acknowledgement’s of William Bolcom and John Corigliano 80th birthdays.




 |  Michael Barrett

On April 24 we are celebrating the NYFOS 30th Anniversary with a concert at Merkin Hall at 8:00. Tenor Paul Appleby, a NYFOS regular over the past decade will be with us singing Schubert, Lennon and McCartney, and several other things. Paul has an enviable international career by now, and we don’t get to see him very often, so this this will be a treat for Steve Blier and myself.




 |  Michael Barrett

I’ve been trying to absorb the fact that NYFOS is approaching the end of our 30th season. It’s a little beyond me, I admit. I’m the kind of person who might take a half day off after a big project, but after that, it’s on to the next. But celebrating a 30th anniversary is maybe a good time for some reflection.




 |  Michael Barrett

At NYFOS we are coming into the home stretch of our 30th anniversary season. Up next on April 24 at Merkin Hall will be our 30th Anniversary Concert with a bevy of marvelous singers. These guys all have burgeoning careers. Soprano Julia Bullock has a solo recital at Carnegie hall next week. Paul Appleby is our leading young American tenor and sings the world over. Mary Testa is a bona fide Broadway star; Theo Hoffman is rocking it at the L.A. Opera; Lauren Worsham is a star in everything she touches and already has an Emmy nomination; and baritone John Brancy just delivered a spectacular recital at Alice Tully Hall a few nights ago.




 |  Michael Barrett

It’s the big Bernstein year. Steven Blier and I have already done a passel of LB shows, with more to come this winter and next fall. But here’s a beautiful rarity from his Peter Pan. Most folks don’t know it, since it didn’t have a big run on B’way. He wrote half a dozen songs for Boris Karloff’s show (he was Hook, of course), but as always, Lenny delivered some keepers.




 |  Michael Barrett

Jesu, meine Freude. Jesus, my Joy. Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s fair to say that classical musicians agree that Bach at the very top of creative geniuses. His music seems in a class by itself. And he wrote lots and lots of music. It seemed to just pour out of him. I’m amazed at how personal his music sounds to me. It’s full of emotional feeling, belief, hope, and tragedy. On a snowy day like this, when I hope to stay in, listening to Bach is like having a private religious ceremony. This is a church I actually want to attend.




 |  Michael Barrett

think most NYFOS folks know Charles Yang by now. He’s our young super star violinist and more recently, he’s carving out an important career as a songwriter and vocalist with an amazing group of three string players (two violins and bass) called Time For Three. They have been playing to much larger audiences than our normal NYFOS crowd (stadiums), and their music is getting deeper, better, and more beautiful every time I hear it.




 |  Michael Barrett

I met Johnny Green in the 1980s. He was well into his 80s and he was there at BAM for the Gershwin celebration concert and TV show to teach us about Gershwin, and about how his big band arrangements went. He took the band through a few numbers and what I most remembered was the sound he got out of them. “This should sound like velvet” he said. We all know velvet doesn’t make a sound, but of course every sax player instantly knew what to do, and they got breathy with their reeds, and the trumpets and trombones fell right in.




 |  Michael Barrett

To end the week on an upbeat, let’s have a group sing. Here is the opening chorus from Bach’s Cantata No. 11. It is from the marvelous complete cantata recordings by Gustave Leonhardt and Nicholas Harnoncourt. I had the good fortune of participating in masterclasses with both of them on various occasions. I wasn’t exactly a baroque-nik, but their music making was so fresh and vital, I felt I needed to learn from them.