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NYFOS and Juilliard Present THE LAND WHERE THE GOOD SONGS GO Tonight

The New York Festival of Song marks its ninth annual co-presentation with Juilliard's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts with a program celebrating the longtime partnership between P.G. Wodehouse and composer Jerome Kern: THE LAND WHERE THE GOOD SONGS GO, to be performed tonight, January 15, 2014 at 8:00PM in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at The Juilliard School.

Joining NYFOS artistic director and pianist Steven Blier is Juilliard faculty member Mary Birnbaum, who will direct the show, and musician Greg Utzig, who will play guitar, mandolin, ukelele, and banjo.

The evening features seven singers from Juilliard, including sopranos Mary Feminear and Raquel Gonzáles, mezzo-soprano Hannah McDermott, tenors James Knight and Alexander McKissick, and baritones Joseph Eletto and Benjamin Lund.

Joining the creative team is Hal Cazalet, a Juilliard alumnus and former student of Mr. Blier. Cazalet is a great-grandson of P. G. Wodehouse, and first introduced Blier to this material in 2001. He went on to star in the original version of this show, which played in London (Wigmore Hall), Washington DC (The Library of Congress) and New York (Kaye Playhouse); with Blier and Sylvia McNair, he recorded a CD of these songs on Harbinger Records. Cazalet will coach the singers and join forces with Mary Birnbaum as director.

Steven Blier Talks About The Land Where the Good Songs Go "This is a show I did in 2001-02, in London, New York, and Washington, D.C. I love the elegance of Kern's music and the wit of Wodehouse's lyrics-old-fashioned in style, yes, but eternal in their depiction of courtship. Just today one of the singers got done with one of her pieces and said, 'Oh my, I totally get this-this is exactly like my life!'

I thought the students would enjoy the music-hall feel of the songs, the flavor of vaudeville, the open invitation to comic invention. Kern's music lies well for classically trained voices, a bit higher and less belty than popular song would get in the 1930s and '40s. And the way the material straddles America (Kern) and England (Wodehouse) is a continual source of allure. I am blessed with a beautiful cast of singers, most of whom are new to NYFOS."


Mary Feminear and Raquel Gonzáles, soprano
Hannah McDermott, mezzo-soprano
James Knight and Alexander McKissick, tenor
Joseph Eletto and Benjamin Lund, baritone

Mary Birnbaum, director
Steven Blier, piano
Greg Utzig, guitar/banjo/mandolin
Hal Cazalet, special guest consultant

TONIGHT, JANUARY 15, 2014, 8:00PM at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at The Juilliard School, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza. Free Admission. Tickets available beginning January 6, 2014 at The Juilliard School Box Office, located in the lobby of Juilliard at 155 West 65th Street. Phone: 212-769-7406; Remaining tickets available on the night of the performance. For more information, visit


(Songs by Jerome Kern, unless otherwise noted)

Sir Galahad (from Leave It To Jane)
My Castle in the Air (from Miss Springtime)
Tell Me All Your Troubles Cutie (from Miss 1917)
You Never Knew About Me (from Oh Boy!)
Siren's Song (from Leave It To Jane)
PORTER: You're the Top (from Anything Goes)
Rolled Into One (from Oh Boy!)
We're Crooks (from Miss 1917)
Go Little Boat (from Miss 1917)
Non-Stop Dancing (from The Beauty Prize)


The Enchanted Train (from Sitting Pretty)
Shimmy With Me (from The Cabaret Girl)
Napoleon (from Have a Heart)
Bill (from Oh, Lady! Lady! / Showboat)
Saturday Night (from Miss Springtime)
Cleopatterer (from Leave It To Jane)
The Land Where the Good Songs Go (from Oh Boy! /Miss 1917)
Anything Goes (from Anything Goes) Porter

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More On: Festival, James S. Marcus, Jerome Kern, Steven Blier, Greg Utzig, James Knight, P. G. Wodehouse, Washington, Sylvia McNair.

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by Peter Danish