No Song is Safe From Us

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

Today’s program combines a narrow focus on a single culture — the British Isles — with the wide-angle lens on four centuries of song, thereby ranging across practically the entire span of Western classical music. The purity of the Renaissance gradually gives way to the warmth of the Romantic era; doughty Victorianism yields first to […]




 |  Steven Blier

We got word yesterday that a major snowstorm was headed our way. It would certainly make the city a slushy mess, and these storms are usually even more severe in Westchester. By lunchtime yesterday, Katonah hadn’t completely recovered from the previous Friday’s monsoon. Several people on the Caramoor staff still didn’t have electrical power at home. There […]




 |  Steven Blier

A few years ago I got a request from the administration at Caramoor to add a fifth artist to the Vocal Rising Stars program: an apprentice pianist. I turned this over in my mind for a while, considering the pros and cons of sharing accompanying duties with yet another person. After all, we already had two pianists on board, Michael Barrett (henceforth to be known by his nickname, Mikey) and me. As I mulled and mulled, the gentle request turned into something more definitive: the program was now to include four singers and a pianist. Any questions?




 |  Steven Blier

Today marked the beginning of the tenth season of NYFOS@Caramoor, aka the Vocal Rising Stars Program. I have always resisted the idea of “rising stars”—it goes against everything I feel about making satisfying, essential music. What I cannot resist is our annual retreat to Caramoor. The unfailing warmth of the people who work there, the calm of the environment, and the feeling of being in a artistic sanctuary feed my soul in a way that few other concert engagements can.




Many songs from the American Roots realm (folk, blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, cajun, string band, traditional, and more genres) are cultural touchstones, songs that just about everyone knows. Songs like “Blowin’ In the Wind”, “Stand By Your Man”, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser known songs being sung in local song circles, small coffee houses, regional festivals that, if given the opportunity, would also find their way into the canon of songs with the power to touch and move any listener.




I’ll admit it—I’m a Snarky Puppy addict. They’re ridiculously good. Picking only one song from them is actually easy because there’s no wrong choice. Listening to only one song is not easy, so if you’re reading this, and you haven’t listened to SP, a good starting point are their Family Dinner albums (volume 1 and 2).




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

I spent the school breaks of my college years in Norway, while my parents lived there for a work assignment. It was impressed upon me during that time that the Norwegians are an entirely proud bunch, and nothing makes them more proud than their stunning landscape of rugged coastlines, vast mountain-scapes, and steep fjords.




 |  Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

I can’t say for sure the first time I heard this song, but I remember distinctly when it first made a serious impression—as an encore at Susan Graham’s recital at Carnegie Hall in 2003. I was absolutely swept away by the beauty of it. Up until then I didn’t really know anything about Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947), a Venezuelan-born composer who lived in France. Now I see his songs pop up on recital programs frequently.




 |  Steven Blier

So let’s start with a love story: soprano Corinne Winters, whom I first heard when she auditioned for New York City Opera. A recent graduate of AVA in Philadelphia, she sang Manon’s entrance aria “Je suis encore tout étourdie,” and the third-act Bohème aria. Her voice intrigued and puzzled me. It was dark but very free at the top. While she had the lightness to soar up to an easy high E in the Massenet piece, she also demonstrated the rich timbre of a Verdi singer.