No Song is Safe From Us

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

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 2, March 8   Today was the first time we got into the hall, after a morning spent doing musical work in two rehearsal spaces (boys with Mikey, girls with me).  It felt kind of a bit roguish, going off with just half the cast to do private work. […]




 |  Steven Blier

Steven Blier on the NYFOS@Caramoor Residency: Day 1, March 7 This year’s residency at Caramoor was scheduled so close to my concert at San Francisco Opera that I simply collided into the first day of rehearsal today. I’d done as much as I could to get ready but I had to break one of my recent […]




 |  Steven Blier

Yesterday we had a break in our routine. It was our first day without Adam Cates, the choreographer, and that always makes us feel as if daddy has gone away. (Were we bad?) And Mary Birnbaum, our director, also took most of the day off for meetings time-sensitive chores; she just popped in for half […]




 |  Steven Blier

A few years ago I had the brilliant inspiration to take another pianist on board to help me with the Juilliard rehearsals. We work six hours a day, seven days in a row, and in previous years I found myself morphing into a rehearsal pianist, exhausted, taking short cuts, husbanding resources, fighting for survival. By […]




 |  Steven Blier

The work continued today much as yesterday, with a significant difference. In the morning I received an email in which Sam Levine brought up a thorny question: “Do you think anyone will be bothered by the racial and gender politics in the show?” He was referring especially to an Arlen tune, “Two Ladies in the Shade of the Banana Tree” from House of Flowers. Clearly Sam, who is very smart and very aware, was uncomfortable with it, and I could see where all of this was coming from. The song is sung by what we would now call two sex workers in a brothel, and they extol the virtues of their island and the beauty of its women. It’s a rollicking piece with a great tune, sunny spirits, and a bit of sass. It is fun. It is not Brecht. And yes, it was written by white men, a straight Jew (Arlen) and a gay gentile (Truman Capote).




 |  Steven Blier

I slept badly last night and feared I would have a rough day of rehearsal. Catching sight of myself in the bathroom mirror this afternoon, I looked exhausted and pasty. But the music and the personnel had revived me. Like the guy in the looks-bad-feels-good joke, I was in great spirits in spite of the […]




 |  Steven Blier

Starting a new project is like starting a new love affair. You come in with excitement and high hopes, and you promise yourself that it’s going to go smoothly, fueled on daily progress and sustained industry. In reality, of course, every day brings its moments of bliss and its moments of blister. Day one was […]




 |  Steven Blier

There were a lot of blessings this weekend. In spite of some nasty-looking icons on my iPhone weather app earlier in the week, the weather held up Saturday and Sunday. The Orient concert was sold out. And the Latin/Caribbean music worked its wiles on both audiences in a powerful way. The Saturday show in Bellport, courtesy of South Country Concert (run by […]




 |  Steven Blier

DAY 4: August 20, 2015 In a short rehearsal period like this, Wednesday is the last day I can really work on the music in a substantive way. After that I can feel the ice forming, and soon everyone turns into Ethel Merman, who described herself before an opening night: “Miss Birdseye–my performance is frozen.” […]




 |  Steven Blier

DAY 3: August 19, 2015 The process is always the same, but the details make the difference. It’s true of producing wine, cheese–and the North Fork residency. To wit: since we’re starting a week earlier, the singers are mostly coming directly from their last summer programs. I think that going from dorm life to a […]