NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG (NYFOS) creates intimate concerts that breathe new life into an art form that is rich and emotionally resonant, yet is too often treated as genteel, intellectual, and predictable. Led by founders Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, armed with just two pianos, a splendid array of singers, a sense of humor, and a love of words and music-not to mention a knowledge of musical culture savvy enough to find the 19th-century gem that speaks to today's sensibilities-NYFOS plunders music's remote precincts to create evenings of the deepest pleasure. At NYFOS concerts, Debussy speaks to doo-wop, Lieder to Latin jazz, Josquin to the just-written.
In addition to the much-loved Merkin Concert Hall series, NYFOS continues its expanded programs:
• No Song is Safe From Us, a nationally syndicated radio series produced by Chicago's famed WFMT and hosted by Frederica von Stade. Drawing upon NYFOS's extensive archives and recordings, the series includes two programs featuring the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
• NYFOS Next, free one-hour concerts of contemporary songs curated and hosted this season by composers Joseph Thalken and Russell Platt. The shows are presented on November 8, 2011 and April 24, 2012 in the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.
• New Venues: NYFOS is making its debut at three new venues this season: the unique, cube-shaped Calderwood Hall in Renzo Piano's new wing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston; the Mary Flagler Cary Hall in the newly opened DiMenna Center for Classical Music (Orchestra of St. Luke's new home); and the Dorothy Betts Theater, Marvin Center at George Washington University.
Plus NYFOS has brand new offers for audiences to enjoy:
• "Real Deal" Ticket Bargain: NYFOS is now offering a limited number of seats for every performance, for advance purchase, at only $25. The only unknown is the seating location.
• Post-Concert Wine Receptions with the Cast: Every NYFOS show is a party-and this year NYFOS is offering not only a complimentary post-concert wine reception with the cast in Merkin's upstairs reception area, but providing extra time to enjoy it. With the exception of the March 13 New York/Paris show, NYFOS will run its shows straight through without intermission in order to finish around 9:30pm.
Steven Blier, legendary accompanist and teacher whom The New York Times calls "a National Treasure," says: "The 2011-12 concert season is leading up to my own marriage, planned for next May. As I prepare to tie the knot, the program themes resonate deeply: family celebrations in NYFOS's first-ever Christmas program; courtship and relationships in Memory Palace and Hookup/Breakup; my passion for my hometown and fascination with French culture in New York to Paris; and of course the beautiful, long tradition of gay artists in Manning the Canon. A heartbreakingly gifted roster of singers guarantees a year-long festival of song."
Michael Barrett, acclaimed programming innovator and conductor who is General Director of Caramoor and co-founder of the Moab Music Festival, adds: "We are also excited about NYFOS Next, our new contemporary music series, where we lavish time and attention on today's most innovative songwriters. Not to mention our new national radio series-sort of a NYFOS Home Companion-which mines the NYFOS archives for treasures the whole world can hear.
"New York Festival of Song reinvented the song recital." - The New Yorker
"Evenings that can feel like dream dinner parties-the kind where a group of fascinating strangers come together to have wonderfully unexpected conversations." - Opera America
"Best classical programming in New York." - New York Magazine
"Every detail was designed to give the evening seamless coherence, and you left the hall feeling
enriched, enlightened, entertained and grateful for the experience."- The Washington Post
T H E '11 / 12 S E A S O N
NYFOS NEXT, the mini-series
Mary Flagler Cary Hall at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues
Free admission • Reservations are required
646-230-8380 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Complimentary beverages will be served
Following up on last year's debut season of NYFOS Next, curated by modern icons Gabriel Kahane and Phil Kline, this second installment spotlights the musical theater works of Joseph Thalken and the exquisite lyricism of Russell Platt. NYFOS Next looks to the future, opening a forum for the next generation of song composers and interpreters. Audiences enjoy an up-close encounter with the creative process, and freshly-minted songs are shared among creative companions-some for the first time. With an emphasis on spontaneity, novelty, and collaboration, NYFOS Next pioneers an experimental venue for song, paralleling New York Festival of Song's celebrated concert series in Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011, at 7:00PM
NYFOS Next: Joseph Thalken & Friends
A program of new theater music curated and hosted by up-and-coming composer Joseph Thalken (Harold & Maude: an intimate musical). Performers and composers TBA. Tickets available starting November 1, 2011.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 7:00PM
NYFOS Next: Russell Platt & Friends
A program of new vocal music curated and hosted by the award-winning composer and writer Russell Platt. Performers and composers TBA. Tickets available starting April 17, 2012.
The NYFOS series at MERKIN CONCERT HALL
All concerts begin at 8:00PM
Five programs, Eight concerts
$40-$55 for single tickets; student tickets $15
New this year: Real Deal Tickets - $25 Advance Purchase/"Pot Luck" Seating
129 West 67th St. • 212-501-3330
IN THE MEMORY PALACE: Games of Love
Tuesday, October 25 and Thursday, October 27, 2011
Michelle Areyzaga, soprano; Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano; Paul Appleby, tenor; Andrew Garland, baritone; Steven Blier, Michael Barrett, pianists
This opening night program centers around the premiere of Gabriel Kahane's song-cycle, The Memory Palace, which evokes scenes of East Coast solitude with his uniquely haunting music and mordant lyrics. An alternating series of cycles and quartets by composers including Frank Bridge, Enrique Granados, Stephen Sondheim, and Heitor Villa-Lobos, follows the theme of yearning across the borders of geography and imagination into longed-for lands.
Steven Blier talks about In the Memory Palace:
"Memory Palace allows us to explore some of the composers whose music has fascinated us over the past years: the rarely-heard Frank Bridge, who was Benjamin Britten's teacher and a fascinating, multi-faceted songwriter in his own right; Enrique Granados, whose classic song cycle Tonadillas combines high-voltage charm with startling emotional depths; and Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose Forest of the Amazon songs are like an instant immersion (eco-friendly, of course) into the exotic, passionate sounds of the Brazilian jungle. Best of all, Memory Palace reunites us with one of today's greatest songwriters, Gabriel Kahane, who combines a refreshingly modern sensibility with the refinement and compositional skill of his greatest forbears: Elvis Costello mated with Gabriel Fauré."
MANNING THE CANON: Songs of Gay Life
Back By Popular Demand!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Scott Murphee, tenor; Jesse Blumberg, Timothy McDevitt, baritones; Matt Boehler, bass; Steven Blier, pianist
NYFOS returns with its rousing, touching celebration of the lives and art of gay men in works that reflect the heritage of gay composers in art song, as well as contemporary songs about the gay experience. Featured composers include Poulenc, Tchaikovsky, Griffes, Bernstein, Porter, Wallowich, and Blitzstein. After last year's rapturously received performance, Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times: "Such programs can easily fall into the trap of social politics and turn maudlin, agenda driven and campy. This one was insightful and imaginative, touching and funny." Read the rave here.
Blier talks about Manning the Canon:
"This is a program we debuted last season, after I had been longing to do it for about two decades. It explores two centuries of gay composers and gay-themed songs, and presents a wide variety of characters: experienced guys on the prowl for a good time; sensitive men grappling with their sexuality; hyper-males and drag queens; ecstatic lovers and those just awakening to their erotic nature. The composers come from seven countries and span 190 years, but they have one thing in common: they are all masters of words and music, and present a vital and engaging portrait of our gay heritage. The joys of gay brotherhood, the lacerating wit of our most brilliant writers, the subtle signals we've created to locate one another, and the crises we've faced and survived: these are the subjects of Manning the Canon."
A GOYISHE CHRISTMAS TO YOU! Yuletide Classics by Jewish Songwriters
Tuesday, November 29 and Thursday, December 1, 2011
Lauren Worsham, soprano; Mary Testa, vocalist; Josh Breitzer, tenor; John Brancy, Joshua Jeremiah, baritone; Alan Kay, clarinet; Steven Blier, piano
NYFOS is thrilled to present its first-ever Christmas show. And what better way to celebrate the holiday season in New York than with a program of Yuletide songs, from classic to comic-entirely written by Jewish composers, ranging from Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, and Irving Berlin to Johnny Marks, Jay Livingston, and Adolphe Adam?
Blier talks about A Goyishe Christmas to You!:
"In America, pretty much everyone celebrates St. Nick's Day one way or another, no matter what religious group they call their own. No wonder that Jewish composers wrote so many famous Yuletide songs-as well as a repertoire of wickedly funny parody versions of the old favorites. We previewed this Christmas show last year at Henry's Restaurant where it provoked a delirium of excitement; that night, I knew we would have to reprise our versions of ‘Winter Wonderland' and ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer'-sung in Yiddish, Klezmer-style-for the NYFOS audience."
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