No Song is Safe From Us

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

The last few days before a concert are always a little tricky to handle. I want to build confidence. I want to fix the little errors—notes, words, rhythms, dynamics—that seem to be repeat offenders. I also want to keep the cast reaching for the heights of expression from depths of their souls—while keeping their work simple, direct, and open. No navel-gazing allowed.




 |  Steven Blier

I have always had a complex relationship with the piano. But I have an especially complex relationship with the piano I am playing this week at Poquatuck Hall. Oysterponds Community Activities, the hall’s parent organization, proudly bought the piano several years ago, and it was a major upgrade from the weather-beaten wreck it replaced. But when I first sat down to play it, I had the oddest sensation of déjà-vu. In fact, I felt as if I were seeing a ghost.




 |  Steven Blier

Wednesday is always the last play-day. People are still giggling over their memory slips, I calmly look the other way when I play a wrong note (which means I am looking the other way quite often), and a certain amount of experimentation remains the order of the day. Sunday’s performance seems centuries away. Everything changes tomorrow, when the glass is definitely half-empty. But today we were in the song-sandbox all afternoon, with the glass safely half-full.




 |  Steven Blier

The music is pouring out of everyone—heartbreak from Kelsey, brio from Christine, panache from Miles. I feel as if I am driving a very fast chariot à la Ben-Hur, hoping to emerge victorious like Charlton Heston.




 |  Steven Blier

That whole song is full of double-entendres, and a lot of them come from old slang expressions. “Neither one knew where the trash is” rhymes with “someone to haul the ashes.” I mentioned it was a phrase you might see in a classic blues song. By this time Christine pulled out her phone to look it up online. “It says: ‘to have sexual intercourse.’ Wait, here’s Urban Dictionary: ‘to have sex, homo or hetero, usually casual, but wild, hot, monkey sex.’” “OK, well, then, you get the picture?” She did.




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: March 14 I’m happy to report that the show went beautifully yesterday. I quarantined myself for about 70 minutes beforehand (a few intruders tiptoed around me) and had a serious talk with my hands. They had a few things to say to me too, but after practicing gently (but […]




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 6, March 12 We’re ready. Well anyway, the cast is. Dress rehearsal went quite beautifully. We have the luxury of actual lighting (a rarity in my concerts, something I don’t get at Juilliard or in San Francisco), and the show flows quite well. We’re not quite sure how long […]




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 5, March 11 Today was finish-the-staging day; work-with-the-props day; make-the-choice-about-who-is-playing-which-song day; work-with-the-lighting guy day; and (most of all) do-our-first-run-through day. In other words, the penultimate day of a week-long rehearsal period. It is usually a white-knuckle experience, fraught with “we won’t get done in time.” But today, somehow not. […]




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 4, March 10 Today was a very satisfying day, Caramoor Rising Stars at its best. The tentativeness of the beginning of the week has melted away, and the place was really buzzing with energy. Everyone brings high quality eyes, ears, and minds to the project, and I was struck […]




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 3, March 9 Wednesday is usually the last day of free exploration before the reality of Sunday’s performance starts to assert a kind of Realpolitik. Soon we’ll all start to see where the boundaries of our techniques and stylistic flexibility are, and we’ll cut whatever deals are necessary. But […]