No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Michael Barrett

We’ve been in Spain, or thereabouts, all week on Song of The Day. Here is something I would call Flamenco style. Or at least this arrangement is. Talk about an entrance! This is a song that Garcia Lorca loved. Our Lorca concert will be April 24th in NYC.




 |  Michael Barrett

We at NYFOS know Jean Ritchie as the author of “Now Is The Cool Of The Day”, a song we’ve performed many times. It’s a great song that reminds us we are in control of our planet. And that the day of reckoning is at hand. Did we keep the grasses green and the water pure? But Jean Ritchie was known more as a folk singer and dulcimer player. Here she is in an old American tune.




 |  Michael Barrett

At our last NYFOS concert we presented a huge song cycle by composer Roberto Sierra. I was drawn to this music’s dark side, and its exploration of uneasy human emotion. Maybe that’s one reason I seem to be drawn to this marvelous music from Spain. Here is some flamenco as sung by Pepe Marchena.




 |  nyfos

I told Michael, “We have got to bring that music to our mainstage series. Everyone needs to hear Daniel’s—what is it, a cantata?” At first we thought of pairing At the Door with other stories of thwarted lovers, picking up on the work’s story. But we saw a more interesting possibility, something to address our current national quandary about welcoming people of other nationalities into our country. Daniel is Persian-American, and At the Door is set to a poem in Farsi. NYFOS has ventured far afield in its 31-year history—a couple of years ago we did a song in Zulu. But it was time to open our borders even further, and Daniel Sabzghabaei proved to be our passport.




 |  Michael Barrett

This week I’ve been looking at some pretty famous songwriters who achieved fame for their populist style of singing and their unusual songs, Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez for example. Today my choice is Randy Newman. He’s one of our great American songwriters, but what I most admire about him is his choice of subject matter.




 |  Michael Barrett

What is a populist voice? People talk about Johnny Cash and sometimes Willy Nelson as authentic folksters, singing about the American experience, failures and aspirations. NYFOS was recently at Exeter Academy, one of our finest prep schools. I was busy conducting the orchestra, and Steve Blier was giving a vocal master class in another room. He mentioned Joan Baez as a vocal example. The student politely asked “who’s Joan Baez?”




 |  Michael Barrett

We cover quite a bit of arcana in NYFOS concerts. Forgotten composers, obscure corners of the repertoire from A to Z. We delight in finding these treasures. Many of them defy classification. Is it a folk song, or a pop tune? We don’t think that’s of any importance really.




 |  Michael Barrett

I’m hoping to enjoy my summer this year. We are just getting into it, and I’m already having lots of fun. I think it’s the long evenings that can make summer so special. Langorous dinners with friends al fresco. Extended dusk, and lingering twilight eventually yielding to the night sky.




 |  Michael Barrett

Steve Blier introduced me to the 19 yr. old John Brancy ( a Juilliard underclassman) about a decade ago. Since then, we’ve helped, and watched “Brancy” (he’s become a one-name star) go from success to success. Most recently, he won a number of prizes in the biggest competition I know of—in Montreal, including the 1st place art song award. I’m amazed, with all the focus on opera, that such a thing even exists.