LSM Newswire

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NY Festival Of Song: "The Sweetest Path"


The Great Flowering of French Art Song: Fauré, Bizet, Ravel, Debussy,
many more

Tuesday, March 16 at 8 PM at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center


Artists: John Brancy, Charlotte Dobbs, Rebecca Jo Loeb, Matthew Peña
Steven Blier and Michael Barrett

Kaufman Center and New York Festival Of Song (NYFOS, present a special non-subscription program, The Sweetest Path, on Tuesday, March 16 at 8 PM at Kaufman Center’s Merkin Concert Hall. The concert, celebrating the first great flowering of French art song, with the lush, poetic music of Fauré, Ravel, Debussy, Bizet, Gounod and many other composers, culminates the second season of Caramoor’s Vocal Rising Stars program, a week-long residency for young professionals devoted to guiding and inspiring the next generation of vocal talent. The Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York is the program’s sponsor, and will present The Sweetest Path on Saturday, March 13 in the Music Room at Caramoor. The initial season of the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars Program will be underwritten, in part, by the Terrance W. Schwab Fund for Young Vocal Artists. Leading the week’s events will be NYFOS Artistic Directors and pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, working with a select group of young singers from around the country.

Tickets for The Sweetest Path at Merkin Concert Hall are $40-$55, with $15 student discount tickets a half-hour before performances, as available. There are also $15 student tickets available in advance by calling (646) 230-8380. Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center is at 129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023. Telephone (212) 501-3330, or visit
The artists are Charlotte Dobbs, soprano, featured last summer as the Governess in The Turn Of the Screw under the baton of Lorin Maazel; Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano, featured in NYFOS’s Latin Lovers, and hailed by Opera News as “a singer to watch”; Matthew Peña, an award-winning tenor who can be heard on the Albany Records recording of The Turn Of the Screw; John Brancy, baritone, a Liederkranz Foundation winner; and NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier (“A national treasure when it comes to the art of song” – The New York Times) and Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett, General Director of Caramoor, as pianists/hosts.

Upcoming events at NYFOS include its April 12 gala Let Yourself Go, at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the music of Irving Berlin; and on May 4 and 6 at Merkin Concert Hall, The Newest Deal, the premiere of Pulitzer Prize finalist Harold Meltzer’s song cycle Beautiful Ohio*, created for and performed by tenor Paul Appleby, winner of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and recently featured in Where We Come From.


The Great Outdoors
Gabriel Fauré              Le plus doux chemin
Emmanuel Chabrier    Les cigales
Edouard Lalo              Au fond des halliers
Chabrier                      Lied

The Purple Years
Charles Gounod          O ma belle rebelle
César Franck               Le mariage des roses
Alfred Bachelet           Chère nuit
Georges Bizet              N'oublions pas!

Spanish Weekend
Albert Roussel            Le bachelier de Salamanque
Pauline Viardot           L'absence
Maurice Ravel            Vocalise en forme de habanera
Chabrier                      España
New Voices
Maurice Ravel            Deux épigrammes de Clément Marot
      1. D'Anne qui me jecta de la neige
      2. D'Anne jouant de l’espinette
Erik Satie                   Daphénéo
Max d’Ollone             L'enfant Eros
Francis Poulenc          La petite servante

Fauré                          En sourdine
Georges Auric            Attendez le prochain bateau
Albert Roussel           Sarabande
Claude Debussy         Colloque sentimental

After Hours
Maurice Ravel           Fascination
René Sylvano     

and Lucien Boyer, 
lyrics by 
Yvette Guilbert        Partie carrée


Georges Auric (1899 – 1983) was part of the French avant-garde, and composed music for ballet, musical theater, opera and classic films such as Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. Many of his songs became popular hits.

Alfred Bachelet (1864 –1944) is considered a key figure in early 20th century French opera, with a post-Romantic style similar to Richard Strauss.

Georges Bizet (1838-1875), a Romantic Composer influenced by Gounod and Schubert, is best known for his operas, including Carmen and The Pearl Fishers, as well as such instrumental works as Symphony In C.

Emanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) was an important Romantic composer who created operas (notably L’étoile), songs, orchestral works and piano music. And who influenced several succeeding generations of French composers, especially in his use of musical humor and wit.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918), one of the most prominent figures in impressionist music, was famous for his uniquely sensuous style in works such as the opera Pélleas and Mélisande and orchestral works such as La Mer.

Max d’Ollone (1875-1959) was a composer, conductor and musicologist. His work was influenced by Massenet and Wagner, but his many operas and ballets showed his own sharply dramatic style.

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) is considered the master of French art song, using a uniquely subtle, yet repetitive harmonic and melodic style which greatly influenced 20th century music.

César Franck (1822-1890) a major figure of late French Romantic music, developed and composed works in “cyclic form,” in which successive themes germinate from a main motif, and used harmonies influenced by Liszt and Wagner. Among his best known works are his Symphony in D and his violin concerto.

Charles Gounod 1818-1893) achieved fame as a Romantic composer through his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette and vocal works such as his adaptation of the first prelude of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, which he used as the foundation for his world famous Ave Maria.

Yvette Guilbert (1865-1944) was one of the greatest stars of French cabaret, singing songs of tragedy and lost love.  She was painted by Tolouse Lautrec, adored by Verdi, starred in silent films, wrote best-selling novels and sometimes composed her own music and lyrics, many of which were big hits.

Eduard Lalo (1823-1892) whose most famous vocal work is the opera Le Roi D’Y’s, was noted for his strong melodies and colorful orchestration.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was a member of the Paris group of composers called Les Six and applied Dadaist techniques to music, frequently blurring the lines between classical and popular idioms.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), another important figure in French impressionist music, was noted for his complex orchestral and instrumental textures, in works such as Daphnis and Chloe and La Valse.

Albert Roussel (1869-1937) wrote a variety of instrumental and vocal works. Influenced by impressionist composers, he reinvented in his own neoclassical style and jazz-oriented pieces.

Erik Satie (1866-1925), one of the most influential artists of the French avant-garde crowd, was noted for his minimalist pieces, which provided the inspiration for succeeding generations of French composers.

Pauline Viardot (1821 – 1910), a glamorous figure in late 19th Century opera, arranged works by Brahms, Schubert and other important composers. She also created songs and salon operas which were intended to be private exercises for her vocal students, but were discovered by Franz Liszt and eventually reached the public.


Hailing from Mullica Hill, New Jersey, John Brancy is in his third year of undergraduate studies at The Juilliard School. Mr. Brancy’s many scholarships include the E. & G. Valentine scholarship, the Mary Isabelle Kemp scholarship, and the Michael L. Brunetti memorial scholarship in voice. Other awards include an encouragement award in the 2008 Lotte Lenya competition, the First place prize in the 2007 Classical Singer competition, The Gold Award from NFAA, an encouragement award from Opera Index, and recently the Second Place prize in the Liederkranz Foundation opera competition. Mr. Brancy’s recent engagements have taken him to Carnegie Hall for two consecutive performances in last year’s season with Mid-America productions.

Charlotte Dobbs made her European debut this past summer as Corinna in Il viaggio a Reims at the Pesaro Rossini Festival, and returned to Italy in the fall to sing Rosina in the theaters of Jesi, Fermo, and Ravenna with the Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini. She also made her debut this season with the Chicago Opera Theater, as Servilia in La clemenza di Tito. Other recent credits include Donna Elvira, the title role in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, Nuria in Ainadamar, and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with the Curtis Opera Theater. In 2008, she appeared in recital with Mitsuko Uchida at the Marlboro Music Festival, where she performed Schoenberg's Book of the Hanging Gardens. Also at Marlboro, she gave her first performance of Schoenberg's Second String Quartet. Her recent appearances also include the title role in Iphigénie en Aulide, Elettra in Idomeneo, and Juno in La Calisto, all at the Juilliard School. Miss Dobbs made her Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall debuts in Nielsen's Third Symphony with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Alan Gilbert in 2008. She has appeared on two NYFOS programs: Songs of Peace and War and No Song Is Safe From Us.

Hailed as a “singer to watch” (Opera News) and a “dusky-toned mezzo” (the New York Times) Rebecca Jo Loeb is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School. Included in her 2009-10 season are performances as the Second Fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the New York City Ballet, her Carnegie Hall debut as the alto soloist in Bach’s B minor Mass with the Saint Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra, performing in a workshop of The Enchanted Island with The Metropolitan Opera, and performing Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs at Alice Tully Hall with the Riverside Symphony. This summer she will return to Glimmerglass Opera to perform in The Tender Land and Le nozze di Figaro. She has performed with the Boston Pops, the Mark Morris Dance Company, Central City Opera, as fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and as a Young American Artist at Glimmerglass Opera. Ms. Loeb made her Broadway debut in a program entitled Ladies Who Sing Sondheim starring Angela Lansbury. She performed Carrie in Carousel and Petra in A Little Night Music with the Boston Pops. Ms. Loeb has won the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya competition and was a 2009 Career Bridges grant winner.

Matthew Peña enjoys a diverse repertoire in opera, concert and recital
of standard, new, and unjustly obscure repertoire. His operatic
credits include roles with Anchorage Opera, Virginia Opera, Chautauqua
Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. He was a
recent member of the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival and has
appeared in concert and recital with the American Classical Orchestra,
the Choral Society of New York, the San Jose Music Club, the Cleveland
Singers Club and The Song Continues Festival of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. This summer, he will be an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Peña has won several awards, including a grant from the Léni Fé Bland Foundation, the San Jose Music Study Club Competition, and the Charles A. Lyman Vocal Competition. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music. His recordings includeLee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country and Spohr’s Zemire and Azor, both available through Albany Records.

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 Jay 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).

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.

NYFOS’s New York City concert series is funded, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts.
The May 4 and 6, 2010 performances of The Newest Deal are made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
 *Beautiful Ohio is commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation Charles Kingford Fund.
The second season of the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars program will be underwritten, in part, by The Terrance W. Schwab Fund for Young Vocal Artists.
Paul Appleby appears with the cooperation of The Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.


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