New York Festival of Song to Release NYFOS Records: 'THE SINGLES, VOL. 1'

The album will be released on on Friday, March 8, 2024.

By: Feb. 11, 2024
New York Festival of Song to Release NYFOS Records: 'THE SINGLES, VOL. 1'
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On Friday, March 8, 2024, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) will release an album drawn from its archives, NYFOS Records: The Singles, Vol. 1 featuring guest artists performing together with pianist and NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier on NYFOS Records. Chabrier's Lied, performed by baritone Kurt Ollmann and Steven Blier from NYFOS's 1999 program Romance in the Belle Epoque, comes out today.

NYFOS has gathered together this collection of treasured performances for the first time ever on this wide-ranging album. Spanning over 20 years of memorable moments and voices, it features performances by stars of the opera and concert world – Michael Spyres, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, Bernarda Fink, Justin Austin, Kurt Ollmann, Brett Polegato, and Lucia Bradford – alongside singing actors like Darius de Haas, Jennifer Aylmer, Hal Cazalet, James Martin, Dana Hanchard, and David Costabile.

"In typical NYFOS fashion this album embraces not just a wide range of music sung by a galaxy of star vocalists, but also a span of venues,” NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier said. “Some are from live concerts; some were done at the old WQXR studios on lower Fifth Avenue, where we briefly had carte blanche to record songs for a broadcast radio show. We even made a few gorgeous recordings in my living room, where Sasha Cooke sang Brad Mehldau's haunting Love Sublime; it's also where I recorded the piano parts for Kate Lindsey's two tunes during the Covid quarantine.” 

Repertoire includes classics like Come Sunday by Duke Ellington Auf der Bruck by Schubert, and En sourdine by Fauré, as well as rarities—the premiere recording of a stunning German art song, Abendlied, written by a now-forgotten Holocaust survivor, Georg Jokl; a super-charming 18th Spanish song called El dulce de América; and a hidden gem from the Harlem Renaissance, What Harlem Is to Me, with lyrics by the great Andy Razaf. It is this distinctive programming that Opera News has praised by saying, "If you've never had the pleasure of attending an NYFOS concert, now is your chance to hear what the fuss is about from the comfort of your home.”

About Steven Blier

Steven Blier is the Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which he co-founded in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival's inception, he has programmed, performed, translated, and annotated more than 150 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. NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia, and Russia. New York Magazine gave NYFOS its award for Best Classical Programming, while Opera News proclaimed Blier “the coolest dude in town” and in December 2014, Musical America included him as one of 30 top industry professionals in their feature article, “Profiles in Courage.”

Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recital partners have included Michael Spyres, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Jessye Norman, and José van Dam, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to La Scala. He is also on the faculty of The Juilliard School and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Many of his former students, including  Julia Bullock, Stephanie Blythe, Sasha Cooke, Paul Appleby, Dina Kuznetsova, Corinne Winters, and Kate Lindsey, have gone on to be valued recital colleagues and sought-after stars on the opera and concert stage. In keeping the traditions of American music alive, he has brought back to the stage many of the rarely heard songs of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill, and Cole Porter. He has also played ragtime, blues, and stride piano evenings with John Musto. A champion of American art song, he has premiered works of John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Mark Adamo, John Musto, Richard Danielpour, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, Lowell Liebermann, Harold Meltzer, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.

Mr. Blier's extensive discography includes the premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International), which won a Grammy Award; Spanish Love Songs (Bridge Records), recorded live at the Caramoor International Music Festival with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Joseph Kaiser, and Michael Barrett; the world premiere recording of Bastianello (John Musto) and Lucrezia (William Bolcom), a double bill of one-act comic operas set to librettos by Mark Campbell; Quiet Please, an album of jazz standards with vocalist Darius de Haas, and Canción amorosa, a CD of Spanish songs with soprano Corinne Winters. His latest release is Mi País: Songs of Argentina with baritone Federico De Michelis, on NYFOS Records. His writings on opera have been featured in Opera News and the Yale Review. A native New Yorker, he received a Bachelor's Degree with Honors in English Literature at Yale University, where he studied piano with Alexander Farkas. He completed his musical studies in New York with Martin Isepp and Paul Jacobs. Mr. Blier is a Yamaha Artist.

About New York Festival of Song

Now in its 36th 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 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 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.

Their latest endeavor is NYFOS Records, which released its first album (From Rags to Riches, with Stephanie Blythe and William Burden) in January of 2022. They also issue a monthly single, with archival performances by artists such as Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Bernarda Fink, and newly recorded songs by Joshua Blue and Sasha Cooke. NYFOS Records has reached rapidly growing audiences in over 100 countries, with well over half a million streams since the beginning of the year. 

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, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the Ann Goodman Recital Hall at Kaufman Music Center, and now the Rubin Museum in Chelsea.

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 16th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 14th year in March 2022); 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.

NYFOS Records: The Singles, Vol. 1 Tracklist

1. El dulce de América by Anonymous (from Latin Lovers, 1999) [2:23], Jennifer Aylmer, soprano; Oren Fader, guitar; James Saporito, percussion; Steven Blier, piano

2. En Sourdine by Gabriel Fauré (from Romance in the Belle Epoque, 1999) [3:22], Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

3. Lied by Emmanuel Chabrier (from Romance in the Belle Epoque, 1999) [2:24], Kurt Ollmann, baritone; Steven Blier, piano

4. Psyché by Émile Paladilhe (from Romance in the Belle Epoque, 1993) [3:27], Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

5. Addio ai Viennesi by Gioacchino Rossini (from Amor, 2023) [4:52], Michael Spyres, baritenor; Steven Blier, piano

6. Abendlied by Georg Jokl, Fritz Lampl (from Black Market & Other Songs for Survival, 2023) [3:40], Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

7. Auf der Bruck by Franz Schubert (from Songs and Sense and Sensibility, 1999) [3:21], Brett Polegato, baritone; Steven Blier, piano

8. What Harlem Is to Me by Paul Denniker and Andy Razaf (from At Harlem's Height, 2001)[3:44], Dana Hanchard, soprano; Darius de Haas, tenor; James Martin, baritone; Steven Blier, piano

9. We're Crooks by Jerome Kern, P.G. Wodehouse (from P.G.'s Other Profession, 2002) [2:09], Hal Cazalet, tenor; David Costabile, baritone; Steven Blier, piano; Greg Utzig, guitar

10. It Makes My Love Come Down by Bessie Smith (from Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do, 2021) [5:06], Justin Austin, baritone; Joseph Li, piano; Steven Blier, piano

11. Black Market by Frederick Hollander (from Black Market & Other Songs for Survival, 2020) [5:16], Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

12. One Life to Live by Kurt Weill (from The Afterlife, 1993) [3:28], Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

13. Love Sublime by Brad Mehldau (2022) [4:47], Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

14. Come Sunday by Duke Ellington (from The Wider View, 2022) [3:20], Lucia Bradford, mezzo-soprano; Steven Blier, piano

Total Time: 51 minutes

Steven Blier, piano

Featuring:

Jennifer Aylmer, soprano
Dana Hanchard, soprano
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano
Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Lucia Bradford, mezzo-soprano
Darius de Haas, tenor
Hal Cazalet, tenor
Michael Spyres, baritenor
Kurt Ollmann, baritone
Brett Polegato, baritone
James Martin, baritone
David Costabile, baritone
Justin Austin, baritone
Oren Fader, guitar
Greg Utzig, guitar
James Saporito, percussion
Joseph Li, piano

Producers: Steven Blier, Jonathan Estabrooks
Remixing/Editing/Mixing: Jonathan Estabrooks
Mastering: Bryan Lowe
Artwork design: Gillian Riesen, Emitha Studios



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