No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Steven Blier

The last time I saw Hello, Dolly! I was twelve years old, and Carol Channing played Dolly. On the way out of the theater—no, it must have been later, at Sam Goody’s where its $4.95 price tag would have come down a whole dollar—my mother bought the original cast album for us. Well, for me. I was the obsessive music-listener in the house. I soon knew all the songs by heart.




 |  Steven Blier

I first met John Corigliano 41 years ago over dinner at a restaurant in Greenwich Village. I was a rather shy young guy and I was out with some very confident people, all of whom friends of some standing. all of them about fifteen years my senior. I’m not sure I made much of an impression that night.




 |  Steven Blier

These days I find that I don’t venture out much to hear the standard operas at the Met. For one thing, I’ve been familiar with them since my pre-teen years, and their music is now so familiar to me that they have become like mantras or prayers, part of my ongoing inner soundtrack.




 |  Steven Blier

This week I thought I’d share some of the music that has filled my recent weeks. It is the Christmas season and we’re about to put up our traditional tree, a present we received at the end of the last century from Jim’s brother and sister. They had each been assigned to one of us in their family’s Christmas lottery, and decided to pool their resources and go in on a gift together.




 |  Steven Blier

Today is an auspicious double anniversary: the New York Festival of Song is thirty years old, and NYFOS’s Founding Advisor Leonard Bernstein is…well, nearly one hundred. He’ll officially round off his century mark on August 25, 2018. But centennial festivities are planned over the span of two full concert seasons, and NYFOS wanted to get in at the very beginning. It seemed appropriate to kick off our Pearl Anniversary by honoring one of our most important mentors. And his rousing bicentennial cantata Songfest seemed like the perfect vehicle—not just for our three-decade mark, but to raise the roof in celebration of our country’s cultural wealth and diversity.




 |  Steven Blier

When I planned “Red, White, and Blues” I thought I was making a light summer entertainment: 10 French songs, 10 American songs, encore, done. A pitcher of musical sangria. Then I started working on the program, and got a little carried way with visions of sugarplums. “Wouldn’t it be great to do the aria from ‘Mme Chrysanthème’? Gosh, this is the time everyone needs to hear ‘Awaiting You’! Oh, we’re by the water, we should do ‘J’attends un navire’!” The result is that my light repast is more like a five-course meal catered by Lutèce.




 |  Steven Blier

Thursday is the last day I can really work on the songs and push the cast to take risks. On Friday our water breaks as we do our first work-through. Reassurance is the name of the game. On Saturday, contractions start as we have our dress rehearsal. We retreat to our corners. And we deliver the baby on Sunday.




 |  Steven Blier

Unlike some coaches I’ve observed, I don’t tend to start my work by manipulating the surface of the music. Sure, I can be a maniac on the first day about language, because those kinds of errors do need to be nipped in the bud. They take days to repair. But I try not to pick away at musical minutia at the beginning.