No Song is Safe From Us

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

This week I’ve been looking at some pretty famous songwriters who achieved fame for their populist style of singing and their unusual songs, Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez for example. Today my choice is Randy Newman. He’s one of our great American songwriters, but what I most admire about him is his choice of subject matter.




 |  Michael Barrett

What is a populist voice? People talk about Johnny Cash and sometimes Willy Nelson as authentic folksters, singing about the American experience, failures and aspirations. NYFOS was recently at Exeter Academy, one of our finest prep schools. I was busy conducting the orchestra, and Steve Blier was giving a vocal master class in another room. He mentioned Joan Baez as a vocal example. The student politely asked “who’s Joan Baez?”




 |  Michael Barrett

We cover quite a bit of arcana in NYFOS concerts. Forgotten composers, obscure corners of the repertoire from A to Z. We delight in finding these treasures. Many of them defy classification. Is it a folk song, or a pop tune? We don’t think that’s of any importance really.




 |  Michael Barrett

I’m hoping to enjoy my summer this year. We are just getting into it, and I’m already having lots of fun. I think it’s the long evenings that can make summer so special. Langorous dinners with friends al fresco. Extended dusk, and lingering twilight eventually yielding to the night sky.




 |  Michael Barrett

Steve Blier introduced me to the 19 yr. old John Brancy ( a Juilliard underclassman) about a decade ago. Since then, we’ve helped, and watched “Brancy” (he’s become a one-name star) go from success to success. Most recently, he won a number of prizes in the biggest competition I know of—in Montreal, including the 1st place art song award. I’m amazed, with all the focus on opera, that such a thing even exists.




 |  Michael Barrett

Dave Frishberg. Urbane, pianist extraordinaire, a real lyricist, and a musician who gets us other musical cats. Here is “I Want To Be A Sideman”. At NYFOS, we bring in sidemen all the time. Clarinetists, guitarists, percussionists, whatever the music calls for. And playing the piano for singers—well, sometimes you ARE the sideman.




 |  Michael Barrett

Oh It’s Summer! And time for all of our many summer music festivals! I’m in Santa Fe where they are offering up Candide, Madama Butterfly, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Dr. Atomic, among other goodies. Their production of Candide is closer to Voltaire than the Americanized jokey versions I’ve seen in our country lately.




 |  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.