Tag: singers

Music for mating

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 | Events, Music

At Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater for “A Modern Person’s Guide to Hooking Up and Breaking Up,” a vocal concert, presented as part of the 20th Anniversary season of the New York Festival of Song.

Steven Blier, NYFOS’s artistic director, and Michael Barrett, associate artistic director, in collaboration with the students of The Juilliard School’s Vocal Arts Department, and artists from the Juilliard Opera Center, put together this evening of song, which culminates the third annual installment of NYFOS@Juillard.

Peter Jay Sharp Theater

New York Festival of Song

For this year’s program, Blier and Barrett decided upon a theme that their cast of singers knew about firsthand: “mating, dating, betrayal, sexual urges of many stripes, and true love,” somewhat lighter fare than last year’s theme: “Songs of Peace and War.” The song selections were culled from sources ranging from musical theater, to German cabaret, to pop and rock.

The performance opened with a reading of “may i feel said he” by e e cummings. The ensemble (tenor Paul Appleby, baritone Paul LaRosa, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb, soprano Meredith Lustig, tenor Alex Mansoori, baritone David McFerrin, mezzo Renée L. Tatum, bass Marc Webster and soprano Jennifer Zetlan) alternated delivering lines on a darkened stage, which served as an apt introduction to the sometimes quite literal battle between the sexes. (“let’s go said he / not too far said she / what’s too far said he / where you are said she”)

The night’s sung selections were divided into themed segments: Drawing the Lines, Desire, Mars. vs. Venus, Variations and Working it Out, and ranged from the innocently flirty (Frank Loesser’s “Standing on the Corner” from The Most Happy Fella) to the somewhat less so (Kurt Weill’s “Ballad of Sexual Slavery” from Die Dreigroschenoper and songwriter-satirist Tom Lehrer’s “The Masochism Tango.”) There was a highbrow piece with the poetry of W.B. Yeats set to music by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec, a not-so-cryptic — and hilarious — ode to self love (A Chorus Line lyricist Ed Kleban’s “Do It Yourself“) and a rousing rendition of The Boss’s “Ain’t Got You” by ensemble member Appleby who, before marketing himself as a Rossini and Mozart tenor, sang lead in a Springsteen cover band. One of the quirkiest and most recent selections of the night was the 2006 piece “Neurotic and Lonely,” from the eight-song cycle Craigslistlieder, in which McFerrin sang words lifted directly from a Craigslist personal ad, set to music by none other than Brooklyn composer and performer Gabriel KahaneMP‘s talented young cousin, whom I met over one of our dinners at Public. “Must enjoy video games, must own a video game system: my parents refuse to buy one for me!!!! NO UGG BOOTS, NO LONG ISLAND!

The program was punctuated with interstitial quotations by a variety of “love experts,” ranging from Lord Byron to Miss Piggy, Oscar Wilde to St. Augustine (“Lord, make me chaste — but not yet.“)

For the finale, the entire group joined in a song and dance production of The Beatles’ “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” with a saucy encore by Lehrer whose tune “I Got It From Agnes” ended things on a humorous note with the joys and pitfalls of spreading the … er, love.

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