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On Tuesday, November 7 at 8:00 p.m., as part of the worldwide "Bernstein at 100" celebration, NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG-"one of the longstanding delights of New York's music scene" (The New York Times)-opens its 2017-18 Mainstage series at Merkin Concert Hall with Take Care of This House: A Bernstein Celebration.

This Bernstein musical extravaganza features a rare performance of the maestro's Bicentennial ensemble work SONGFEST, which premiered 40 years ago in the nation's capital. Originally scored for orchestra, this concert presents the more intimate two piano and percussion arrangement by composer John Musto.

Set to an eclectic array of poems by some of America's greatest writers including Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Conrad Aiken, Edgar Allan Poe, and Walt Whitman, Songfest captures the composer at the dazzling peak of his powers: a kaleidoscopic view of the American experience told through the passionate voices of insiders, outsiders, artists, ex-patriates, married couples, and kids. The six exciting young singers who perform the solos, duets, trio and sextets of Songfest include soprano Chelsea Shephard, mezzo-sopranos Lucia Bradford and Annie Rosen, tenor Miles Mykkanen, baritone Justin Austin, and bass-baritone Adrian Rosas.

In addition to Songfest, the program will feature a number of Bernstein's most beloved works (and some rarities) written for Broadway and the concert hall, including songs from West Side Story, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Arias and Barcarolles.

Leonard Bernstein was NYFOS' Founding Advisor and guiding spirit, and this salute is part of the worldwide "Bernstein at 100" celebrations.

From NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier: "For me, Songfest is Bernstein's greatest vocal work. Every movement is in a different style, a dazzling tribute to America's broad cultural embrace and the composer's technical command. The true subject of Songfest is the grit of artists and outsiders-an exuberant, Technicolor tribute to our nation's unsung heroes. We'll pair this masterpiece with a selection of songs he wrote for the theater, some beloved favorites and some beautiful rarities. Leonard Bernstein was NYFOS's Founding Advisor. His uninhibited, enduring music is the perfect way to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary."

A Preview Performance takes place on Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 p.m. with Vocal Arts DC in Washington, DC.


Something's Coming (West Side Story)
Seena (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue)
You Were Dead, You Know (Candide)
The Story of My Life (Wonderful Town)
We Must Have a Ball (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue)
Ain't Got No Tears Left (On the Town)
I Go On (Mass)
Take Care of This House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue)
Tonight Quintet (West Side Story)

From Arias and Barcarolles
Love Duet


1. To the Poem (Frank O'Hara)
2. The Pennycandystore Beyond the El (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
3. A Julia de Burgos (Julia de Burgos)
4. To What You Said (Walt Whitman)
5. I, Too, Sing America (Langston Hughes) / Okay 'Negroes' (June Jordan)
6. To My Dear and Loving Husband (Anne Bradstreet)
7. Storyette H. M. (Gertrude Stein)
8. if you can't eat you got to (e.e. cummings)
9. Music I Heard with You (Conrad Aiken)
10. Zizi's Lament (Gregory Corso)
11. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
12. Israfel (Edgar Allan Poe)


Saturday, October 14, 2017
Arias & Barcarolles and other Bernstein Songs
Artists: Katherine Pracht, mezzo-soprano; Matthew Worth, baritone
Michael Barrett and Steven Blier, piano
Tickets & venue info:

Presented by Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO A's and B's, as it is known, has neither arias nor barcarolles. The title comes from a comment Dwight D. Eisenhower made after Lenny had conducted a concert: "You know, I liked that last piece you played. It's got a theme. I like music with a theme, not all them arias and barcarolles." A's and B's embraces many styles, from Broadway pizzazz, to Copland-y Americana, to one of the most sensuously beautiful twelve-tone songs in the rep. Bernstein's theme is the family, which he paints with his unique blend of humor and complexity. The work has become a classic since NYFOS gave the American premiere in 1989. Their subsequent recording with Judy Kaye and Bill Sharp won a Grammy in 1991. Says Steven Blier: "We haven't played the piece in some years, and are looking forward to revisiting it during our 30th anniversary season." The remainder of the program will feature other songs by Bernstein from his musical theater, opera & concert works.

Sunday, November 5, 2017
Take Care of This House: A Bernstein Celebration
Presented by Vocal Arts DC, Washington, DC
See Mainstage for program & artists
Tickets & venue info:

Saturday, December 2, 2017, 6:30-8:00pm (marathon runs 1:00-9:00pm)
NYFOS Next: A Bernstein Marathon
Presented in partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center Ph.D./D.M.A. Programs in Music.

NYFOS co-founder Michael Barrett hosts a marathon performance to celebrate Leonard Bernstein as part of the worldwide "Bernstein at 100" festivities. The NYFOS Next program, which will comprise a 90-minute period, will feature works by today's composers who either studied directly under Maestro Bernstein or have been influenced by his work. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Michael Barrett began his long association with the legendary conductor and composer as a student in 1982. He served as Maestro Bernstein's assistant conductor from 1985-1990. He currently serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Arias & Barcarolles and other Bernstein Songs
Presented by Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, Tucson, AZ
Program same as October 14, 2017 concert.
Artists: Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Jeremiah, baritone
Michael Barrett and Steven Blier, piano
Tickets & venue info:

Friday, February 2, 2018
Arias & Barcarolles and other Bernstein Songs
Presented by Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Vienna, VA
Program & artists same as January 31, 2018 concert.
Tickets & venue info:

Now in its 30th season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Each program entertains and educates in equal measure.

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 musical 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. Among the many highlights is the 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 recorded on Bridge Records. In addition to Bastianelloand 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 2014, Canción Amorosa, a CD of Spanish song-Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic-was released on the GPR label, with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

In November 2010, NYFOS debuted NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues, including OPERA America's National Opera Center, National Sawdust, and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers, and has developed training residencies around the country, including with The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 13th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 10th year in March 2018); San Francisco Opera Center (over 20 years as of February 2018); Glimmerglass Opera (2008-2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY.

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.

Pictured: NYFOS Founding Advisor Leonard Bernstein at home in the Dakota with
Michael Barrett, William Sharp, Judy Kaye, and Steven Blier rehearsing
Arias and Barcarolles (NYFOS premiered it, recorded it and won a Grammy). Photo © 1989 Peter Schaaf.

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