No Song is Safe From Us

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

As Song of the Day turns 3 this week, we look back at our first week of songs (beginning June 15, 2015) from NYFOS’s artistic director Steven Blier. Here is Valerie Masterson performing Yum-Yum’s Act II song from The Mikado. It’s a rare bit of footage, not the 1966 movie but an even better 1973 rendition for television.




 |  Steven Blier

“The Art of Pleasure”—my Wolf Trap concert for this year—includes a section of guilty pleasures. This was at once the most fun and the most difficult group to program. How far were we willing to go? It’s not so easy to assign louche material for a group of people you don’t know. As always, I took a flying leap (the M.O. for my entire career, it seems). The first song would definitely be Tom Lehrer’s 1959 classic “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.”




 |  Steven Blier

In the interest of empowering the cast of my Wolf Trap show “The Art of Pleasure,” I asked them to make suggestions of songs and subjects. “What pleasures beyond the obvious ones (food and sex) do you want to sing about, and what songs bring those pleasures to life for you?” I wondered what kinds of answers I’d get. At this point I knew only one of my cast members personally, and no one wants to look stupid or weird—especially not young professionals dealing with a music director they’ve never met.




 |  Steven Blier

I am at Wolf Trap this week working on a program called “The Art of Pleasure.” Why? Well, for the past eighteen months, I have been assaulted every morning by news of cruelty, greed, shortsightedness, and mendacity unlike anything I can remember. I know others also sense that the world is caving in—how is this being allowed to happen? So I thought: we need to take a moment to meditate on things that give pleasure. It will give us strength.




 |  Steven Blier

Preparing and performing NYFOS concerts is an all-consuming endeavor. Michael Barrett, my co-leader, can attest to this. So can Charles McKay and Claire Molloy, who have masterminded the administration for some years now with tireless grace. We are in a daily (and often nightly) wind-tunnel of schedules, negotiations, translations, editing, grant-writing, note-bashing, and ensemble rehearsal. Therefore when our round-number anniversaries come up, we emerge dazedly from the trenches to mount a celebration for ourselves and our audience, feeling somewhat like a groundhog on February 2. Years ago Justin Davidson called NYFOS “the longest-running song party in New York.” He had no idea.