No Song is Safe From Us

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

In every NYFOS program I like to have a specialty number, something completely on-topic but completely unexpected. I despaired of having such a song for the April 24th Lorca concert until Michael Barrett said, “Oh, you should contact my cousin Jonathan Mayhew. He’s a big Lorca guy—he’s already written one book about him and is now working on another about songs written to Lorca’s poems.” A flurry of emails followed, along with a slew of suggestions for our concert.




 |  Steven Blier

As I prepare for the April 24 concert, I have become increasingly immersed in the life and poetry of Federico García Lorca. The more I know about this great Spanish writer the more astonishing I find him. His neatly bound volumes of poetry and his famous stage works don’t give a true picture of his chaotic creativity, his unique mix of sophistication and naivety, his long-frustrated sensuality, and his complex heart.




 |  Steven Blier

A quick post-concert report as I bid farewell to this beautiful week. Overview: both shows went extremely well for the cast, who delivered the goods. The Sunday run took place in a black box theater that needed to be borrowed for the occasion due to renovations at Caramoor. Its dryness proved to be a challenge to be overcome. Yet the show went smoothly and faultlessly. The in-depth work we’d done on the songs gave the concert the kind of strength and subtlety I had hoped for.




 |  Steven Blier

I’m rarely cheerful the day before a show. I wish I had a bit of Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s infectious, nitrous oxide enthusiasm to lift everyone’s morale—especially mine. But I always feel as if I am being led in front of a firing squad, and I seem to give birth to concerts only after a lot of labor pains. Today’s pains weren’t only metaphorical. On the car trip from Manhattan to Katonah, there was a four-car traffic accident that could easily have turned into a five-car one, were it not for Michael Barrett’s quick reflexes and presence of mind.




 |  Steven Blier

This program takes its inspiration from an opera — Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte — and a movie, Max Ophuls’ La ronde, which was based on the hugely controversial play by Arthur Schnitzler, Reigen. Both works are about the disruptive interplay of love and lust, fidelity and libido, id and superego. In our concert two couples meet and fall in love, but the honeymoon fades. Soon the guys feel trapped and the women feel betrayed, and then all hell breaks loose.




 |  Steven Blier

My goals today were simple and clear: to get the second half of the show staged, and to see if I could persuade my hands to stop behaving like bouncers at a second-rate strip club. I took a little time by myself at the piano in the morning to deal with item number 2. I […]




 |  Steven Blier

Unlike most of the directors I’ve worked with in the recent past, Stephen has not had a lot of experience with the demands—and limitations—of the concert stage. Song repertoire is not his wheelhouse, and he has not worked much with classical singers. All of this turned out to be an advantage, not a deficit. It seemed to allow him to see everything with freshness and imagination.




 |  Steven Blier

Yesterday was a trip to the moon on gossamer wings. But today I could see why Wednesday is known as “hump day.” I tried very hard to conceal my fatigue from everyone (including myself), with the clear intention of replicating the buoyancy of Tuesday’s session.




 |  Steven Blier

One of the luxuries of the Vocal Rising Stars program is that I am encouraged to invite guest teachers in to work with the cast. But it wasn’t easy to locate the right people for this crazy multilingual program. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what I needed—should it be another musician, a director, an actor, a language coach? Early in February I had a few wonderful prospects on the hook, but they got other gigs and had to bow out. And then I remembered a very moving conversation I recently had with Bénédicte Jourdois in the Juilliard lobby.




 |  Steven Blier

This is our tenth anniversary at Caramoor—which means it’s my eleventh season as Artistic Director of the Vocal Rising Stars Program. I look forward to these residencies with a mixture of anticipation and fear. The work is intense, and the week’s success depends a lot on the chemistry of the cast. Not only do they […]