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; www.juilliard.edu/vocalseas. Remaining tickets available on the night of the performance. For more information, visit www.nyfos.org/juilliard.


(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

NYFOS EMERGING ARTISTS: The next generation NYFOS Emerging Artists trains young vocalists to build programs, understand musical style, dig into the history of songs, deliver lyrics with clarity, and reach out to audiences with joy and confidence. Throughout the year, participants work directly with NYFOS's artistic directors on thematic vocal programs. Often writing their own program notes, the singers are encouraged to honor the past, explore the present, and ensure the future of song.

ABOUT NYFOS: Now in its 26th season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Each program weaves music, poetry, history and humor into an unforgettable evening of compelling theater. Dedicated to fostering community among artists and audiences, NYFOS concerts entertain and educate in equal measure. Everyone has a primal need to be sung to; NYFOS was made to meet that need.

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce its series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between high and low performance genres, exploring the character and language of other cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists.

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song, featuring premieres and commissions of new American works, including a double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello and Lucrezia, by John Musto and William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008, and released on Bridge Records as of November 2011. In addition to Bastianello and Lucrezia and the 2008 Bridge Records release of Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records.

In November 2010, NYFOS began its latest programming venture with the debut of NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues. For the 2013-2014 season, the series moves to Opera America's National Opera Center for all three concerts.

NYFOS also nurtures the artistry and careers of young singers in training residencies (current and past projects) with The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 9th year), Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 6th year in March 2014), San Francisco Opera Center (over 15 years as of April 2013), Glimmerglass Opera (2008-2010), and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY, successfully completed in August 2013.

NYFOS's concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

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