No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog

I, of course, love Sondheim and this is one of his iconic songs. However, Sondheim (or for that matter any composer, but especially Sondheim) is only as good as the person singing the song and Barbara Cook was the best. I first heard her perform this song at the Café Carlyle and, while I’d seen Follies and heard the song before, I’d never really heard it until then. The song sprung to life right before me.




Everybody loves Mavis Staples. She’s an American treasure, best known for providing a soundtrack for the civil rights movement with her family, The Staples Singers, with gospel-tinged classics like “Respect Yourself” and “Freedom Highway.” But today, I want to share my love of her version of a classic song, usually associated with Luther Vandross: “A House is Not a Home.”




I first got a glimpse of the band Gato Preto at WOMEX last year. I was seeing 12 bands a night, from all over the world, and they really stood out—African, edgy, and beyond fierce. I had a friend with me who was translating the lyrics, which were unapologetically calling out government corruption. It was this cool, strong woman—Gata Misteriosa—fronting the band.




 |  Corey Friedlander

A few years after I came out in my late twenties when I realized that I was gay, still struggling to understand and find my place in a challenging society, the music of The Flirtations, celebrating gay culture with wit and strength, offered me solace and support, a beacon of hope, and a call to arms in the battles against AIDS and homophobia.




 |  Corey Friedlander

I’m sitting at a friend’s memorial service, moved to tears, not only by the testimonials to his all-too-short life, but also by a recording that he had asked to be played: a short, lush orchestral intro, then a soprano … luminously singing of her longing for sleep and the peace it offers. “Beim Schlafengehen” [“Going to Sleep”], one of Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder [“Four Last Songs”], moves me as deeply every time I hear it as it did decades ago that first time.




 |  Corey Friedlander

Yes, I’m well aware that no sound can be heard in the vacuum of space. Still, I am rather taken by the theory of Pythagoras known as the Harmony of the Spheres, in which he postulated that the sun, moon, and planets all emit their own unique hum based on their orbital revolution. If I could indeed hear the music of those spheres as they move through the heavens, for me it would be the celestial hum at the end of the first section of the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos




 |  Corey Friedlander

My love of Broadway musicals, also thanks to a family outing, began at a 1965 revival of “Kismet” at Lincoln Center. This winner of several 1954 Tony® Awards, including Outstanding Musical, enchanted me with its exotic recreation of old Baghdad (1071 CE) enlivened by the glorious music of Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) adapted by Robert Wright and George Forrest at the suggestion of Vernon Duke.




 |  Corey Friedlander

Blame it all on my mom, my love of opera and vocal music. And on Rita Streich. For a birthday celebration in my youth Mom persuaded Dad to drive our family into NYC from Long Island to a performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte [The Magic Flute] by the Salzburg Marionette Theater. To my youthful eyes and ears, those two-foot high marionettes came to life, transporting me to a magic world of glorious music and remarkable singing as they acted to the 1953 DG recording led by Ferenc Fricsay with a cast that included a youthful Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Papageno.