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New York Festival of Song Presents The Killer B's at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater
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January 13, 2010 - by NYC News Desk

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New York Festival of Song (NYFOS, www.nyfos.org), who "redefined the song recital with daring and dramatic programming" (The New Yorker), presents its fifth annual program with the Department of Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8 PM, Killer B's-American Song From Amy Beach to the Beach Boys. NYFOS@Juilliard celebrates the creative energy and superlative vocal talent of tomorrow's brightest stars, building on NYFOS's distinctive programming and performing style. Alumni of the joint program have already begun to participate in NYFOS's mainstage concerts alongside more seasoned artists, while also taking their place in opera houses and concert halls around the world.

Tickets for the event, at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater, are free and available beginning Monday, January 4 at The Juilliard School box office (in person only), 155 West 65th Street in Manhattan. Box office hours are 11 AM to 6 PM Monday-Friday: 212-721-6500.

NYFOS Directors Steven Blier and Michael Barrett are enthusiastic about the NYFOS/Juilliard collaboration: "We are having a wonderful experience working on this crazy, eclectic program. The students are all deeply involved, researching new songs, looking for spoken material as a bridge between numbers (all by authors whose names begin with the letter B), suggesting repertoire, discussing program order, and writing program notes. They have responded with tremendous creativity, and best of all, they're teaching us a thing or two as they chart a new, surprising path."

The artists in Killer B's will be Catherine Hancock and Meredith Lustig, sopranos; Carla Jablonski and Naomi O'Connell, mezzo-sopranos; Carlton Ford and Timothy McDevitt, baritones; Adrian Rosas, bass-baritone; and New York Festival of Song directors Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, pianists/hosts. Choreography is by Jeanne Slater.

NYFOS's upcoming concerts Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center include: The Voluptuous Muse (February 16 and 18) a survey of the last vestiges of lush tonality and decadent Romanticism at the dawn of the 20th century; and The Newest Deal (May 4 and 6) featuring recent American works, including the premiere of the Harold Meltzer song cycle Beautiful Ohio*, created for and performed by tenor Paul Appleby. In March, NYFOS will offer The Sweetest Path, a program celebrating the first great flowering of French art song; it is the second annual collaboration between NYFOS and the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars program, and it will have two performances: March 13 in the Music Room at Caramoor, and March 16 at Merkin Hall.

Program for Killer B's:

THE EARLY YEARS
Let Me Sing and I'm Happy Irving Berlin
Jean Harry Burleigh
When Roses Cease to Bloom, My Dear Ernst Bacon

SURVIVAL
Nickel under the Foot Marc Blitzstein
I Wish It So Blitzstein
A Song without Words Charles Brown
I Too, Sing American/Okay, Negroes Leonard Bernstein

LOVE
Ya' Gotta Get While the Gettin's Good Eubie Blake
My Handyman Ain't Handy No More Blake
A Lot of Grass to Mow William Bolcom
In a Perfect World (Temptation) Jason Robert Brown
I Used to Be Color Blind Berlin
Outside of That, I Love You Berlin

NIGHT
I Send My Heart Up to Thee! Amy Marcy Cheney Beach
Nocturne Samuel Barber
Stay in My Arms Blitzstein
Johnny's Room The Bobs
Love in the Thirties Bolcom
Blues Blitzstein
In My Room The Beach Boys

HIGHER EDUCATION
A Trip to the Library Jerry Bock
What a Waste Bernstein

THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
Never More Will the Wind Bolcom
Spring Will Come Again Bernstein
(Program subject to change)

Composers:

Ernst Bacon (1898 - 1990) composed more than 250 songs over his career. He incorporated many American popular and folkloric idioms, and set poetry by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and other seminal poets to music.

Samuel Barber (1910 - 1981) Probably most famous for his Adagio for Strings, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer's vocal music includes Knoxville: Summer Of 1915, Dover Beach, The Hermit Songs, and the operas Vanessa and Antony and Cleopatra.

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867 - 1944) was the first successful American female composer of large-scale works. Most of her compositions and performances were under the name Mrs. H.H.A. Beach. Besides her songs, she wrote symphonies, chamber music, choral works and piano concertos.

Eubie Blake (1887 - 1983) composed ragtime, jazz, and popular music. With collaborator Noble Sissle, he wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African-Americans. Blake's compositions also included the hits Love Will Find A Way, Memories of You, and I'm Just Wild About Harry.

The Beach Boys gained fame for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a southern California youth culture of cars, surfing, and romance. Early successes included Surfer Girl and I Get Around, and beginning with the album Pet Sounds, they became more artistically innovative, earning critical praise and influencing many later musicians.

Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989) One of American music's greatest songwriters, he wrote music and lyrics for such classic Broadway shows as Annie Get Your Gun and As Thousands Cheer, and his many near-anthem songs include White Christmas, God Bless America and Alexander's Ragtime Band.

Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990), conductor, composer and pianist, "One of the most prodigally talented and successful musicians in American history (New York Times)," wrote classic musicals (West Side Story, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide), as well as operas, symphonies, masses, and vivid shorter instrumental works.

Marc Blitzstein (1905 - 1964) is best known for his politically-themed musical The Cradle Will Rock and for his off-Broadway translation/adaptation of the Brecht/Weill The Threepenny Opera. His works also include the opera Regina, an adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes, and the Broadway musical Juno, based on Sean O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock.

The Bobs, a quartet of acoustic singers, all with "Bob" as part of their names, composes witty and original material. Their albums include Get Your Monkey Off My Dog, My, I'm Large and Shut Up and Sing.

William Bolcom (b. 1938). The Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has created instrumental concertos, songs and the operas A View From the Bridge, McTeague, A Wedding, as well as the comic one-act Lucrezia, which received its world premiere with NYFOS in 2008.

Paul Bowles (1910 - 1999) was an author and composer most famous for his novel The Sheltering Sky. He wrote chamber music and incidental music for the stage, and a 1955 opera, Yerma. He was also a pioneer in North African ethnomusicology, making some of the first recordings of traditional Moroccan music.

Charles Brown (1922 - 1999), a blues pianist, singer and composer, created an ultra-mellow jazz-inflected genre with his Drifting Blues and Get Yourself Another Fool and All My Life, and influenced later artists such as Ray Charles.


Jason Robert Brown (b. 1970), often cited as one of the "New School" of theatrical composers, fuses pop-rock stylings with theatrical lyrics. His score for the 1999 musical Parade won a Tony Award, and his songs for Broadway's Urban Cowboy were nominated for a Tony.

Harry T. Burleigh (1866 -1949) was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and singer. He was the first black composer to influence the development of a characteristically American music and he helped to make black music available to classically-trained artists by introducing them to the music and by arranging Negro spirituals in a more classical form.


BIOS - THE ARTISTS

Steven Blier
Artistic director Steven Blier co-founded the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival's inception he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated over one hundred vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney.

Mr. Blier also enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recitals with Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, and Jessye Norman, have taken him to the stages of Carnegie Hall, La Scala, and London's Wigmore Hall. He has premiered works of John Corigliano, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, John Musto, Paul Moravec, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.

In addition to his many recordings with NYFOS, Mr. Blier's discography includes four volumes of songs by Charles Ives with baritone William Sharp (Albany Records), a Grammy-nominated CD of American songs with Mr. Sharp (New World Records), and first recordings of music by Busoni and Borodin with cellist Dorothy Lawson (Koch International). His two most recent releases are The Land Where the Good Songs Go with Sylvia McNair and Hal Cazalet, and Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Bridge Records).

Mr. Blier is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center.

Michael Barrett
NYFOS co-founder and Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett is Chief Executive and General Director of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. In 1992, he co-founded the Moab Music Festival with his wife, violist Leslie Tomkins. From 1994 to 1997, he was the Director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Mr. Barrett began his long association with the renowned conductor and composer as a student in 1982. He is currently the Artistic Advisor for the estate of Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Barrett has been a guest conductor with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de France, among others. He also has served variously as conductor, producer, and music director of numerous special projects, including the world premiere of Volpone by John Musto.

Mr. Barrett's discography includes: Spanish Love Songs, recorded live at Caramoor with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Steven Blier, and Joseph Kaiser; Live from the Moab Music Festival; the Grammy-nominated Evidence of Things Not Seen (New World Records); Aaron Kernis: 100 Greatest Dance Hits (New Albion); On the Town (Deutsche Grammophon); Kaballah (Koch Classics) by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie; Schumann Lieder with Lorraine Hunt and Kurt Ollman (Koch); and Arias and Barcarolles (Koch) by Leonard Bernstein (Grammy Award).
Carlton Ford made his NYFOS debut last season in Latin Lovers, and was also featured in the company's Where We Come From. At Juilliard, he sang Demetrius in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream and Betto in Gianni Schicchi. Previous engagements include Cappadocian in Strauss's Salome and Yakusíde in Madama Butterfly at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the 2008 Opening Night Gala of Carnegie Hall with Michael Tilson Thomas. Other opera credits include Dancaïro in Carmen and Hermann in Les Contes d'Hoffmann at the Chautauqua Institute. Mr. Ford is also featured in an HBO documentary with Maestro Plácido Domingo.
Catherine Hancock is pursuing a master of music from The Juilliard School. She made her Alice Tully Hall debut singing Debussy songs on the Wednesdays at One concert series and played the role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival. This year, Hancock will make her debut with the New Juilliard Ensemble singing at the Smithsonian Museum and in the Focus! Festival.

Carla Jablonski is earning her master's degree at The Juilliard School. Ms. Jablonski received her bachelor's degree in voice from Manhattan School of Music, where she sang the roles of Mrs. Jones in Kurt Weill's Street Scene and Thelma Yablonski in John Musto's Later the Same Evening. She sang in the U.S. premiere of Xenakis's opera Oresteia at the Miller Theater, followed by a summer residency at Wolf Trap Opera Company. She has received a Drama Desk Award, an ASCAP award, an Outstanding Student Performance from Downbeat Magazine as well as both the Higley and Rita Greenland Scholarships.

Meredith Lustig is currently in her first year of master's studies at The Juilliard School. Roles with the Juilliard Opera Workshop include Second Spirit in The Magic Flute, Isabel Wentworth in Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All, Venere in Cavalli's La Doriclea, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Ms. Lustig has made multiple appearances with NYFOS, most recently in their Carnegie Hall Gala, Carried Away, which featured the lyrics of Comden and Green. In May 2009 she was awarded the Handel and Haydn Society's Barbra E. Maze Award.

Timothy McDevitt is a first year master's student at The Juilliard School, where he has been seen as Coryphée in the Juilliard Opera Center production of Le Comte Ory, Virgil T. in The Mother of Us All, Surena in the U.S. premiere of Cavalli's La Doriclea, and as Roderick and Sam in Hindemith's The Long Christmas Dinner. Recent credits include Bastien und Bastienne (Colas) in San Jose; Candide (Junkman) and La Bohème (Sergente) with the National Symphony Orchestra; A Hand of Bridge (David) and Il ritorno d'Ulisse (Secondo Feacio) with the Wolf Trap Opera Company; and an appearance singing on a worldwide broadcast by the Japanese Fuji Television Network.


Irish singer Naomi O'Connell is pursuing a master's degree at The Juilliard School. She recently performed the role of L'enfant in Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortilèges at Chautauqua and covered the title role in Ariodante at Juilliard. In 2008, Ms. O'Connell won the Operetta competition at the Belvedere International Singing Competition in Vienna, as well as prizes awarded by the opera houses of Düsseldorf, Klagenfurt and La Scala. She won the inaugural John McCormack Vocal Bursary and three prizes in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition. Ms. O'Connell has been awarded the Mackay, Silverman and Lorber Scholarships from Juilliard and is sponsored by the Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholarship and Tom Cavanagh.

Adrian Rosas is currently pursuing a master's degree at The Juilliard School. He has performed the roles of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Pistola in Verdi's Falstaff, Sarastro and Armored Guard in The Magic Flute, Il Notaio in Gianni Schicchi, Bob in Menotti's Old Maid and the Thief, and covered the role of The King in Handel's Ariodante in November at Juilliard.

Jeanne Slater, choreographer, dancer, actress, and teacher, has been a member of The Juilliard School faculty since 1998. She also serves on the faculties of New York's Circle in the Square Theatre School and the Aspen Music Festival.

New York Festival of Song was founded in 1988 by Steven Blier and Michael Barrett. NYFOS is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty, humor and originality, combining music, poetry, and history to entertain, educate and create community among audiences and performers. With a far-ranging repertoire of art songs, concert works and theater pieces, its thematic recitals have included programs from Brahms to the Beatles, from the nineteenth-century salons of Paris to Tin Pan Alley, from Russian art song to Argentine tangos, from sixteenth-century lute songs to new music. NYFOS particularly celebrates American song literature and culture, and specializes in premiering and commissioning new American works.

 


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