NYFOS to Tour NED IS NINETY Birthday Tribute to Ned Rorem, 11/1-5
NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG, Steven Blier, Artistic Director • Michael Barrett, Associate Artistic Director, opens its 2013-14 Mainstage series at Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Music Center with "NED IS NINETY", a musical 90th birthday for American icon (and guest of honor) Ned Rorem.
Featuring songs by Rorem and his circle of friends: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, Theodore Chanler, Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc, and Virgil Thomson.
Plus excerpts from Rorem's famed diaries featuring Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano, Andrew Garland, baritone, Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, pianists.
It all culminates on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2013, 8:00PM at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street. $40-$55 for Single Tickets; $10 for Student Tickets. $20 for Real Deal Tickets: Advance Purchase, Limited Availability and Seating. $105-$150 Subscriptions for entire NYFOS Mainstage series. For more information, visit www.nyfos.org/rorem.
NYFOS On Tour
The NYFOS troupe travels to New England for two preview performances of NED IS NINETY on Friday, November 1, 8:00 pm: Brown University, Providence, RI and Sunday, November 3, 1:30 pm: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
From NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier: "It is an honor and privilege to celebrate Ned Rorem, who reached out to NYFOS in its early days. Since the beginning Ned has been a beacon of support to Michael and me, constantly affirming our belief in the power of words and music. Immersing myself in Ned's writing and songs, I have an even deeper appreciation for the beautiful enigma of this man. Pristine surfaces reveal hidden rumblings, ironic distance suddenly gives way to passion, sweetness conceals roiling conflict. Ned loves to speak in riddles-'Which of my musician friends should be on the evening with me? Definitely Theodore Chanler ... (Pause) ... Of course, I never knew him.' Ned spins you around, but he has an odd way of leading you to his truth-and your own truth in the process."
Ned Rorem, the last of the great American song composers of the post-war era, turns 90 on October 23. The New York Festival of Song, which has enjoyed a long and fruitful history with Rorem, marks this occasion with NED IS NINETY, a musical birthday party in three cities.
The 2013-14 NYFOS Mainstage series at Merkin Concert Hall in NYC opens with NED IS NINETY on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm, with Rorem himself in attendance. There will also be two preview performances: Friday, November 1 at Brown University in Providence, RI, and Sunday, November 3 at the Gardner Museum in Boston.
The Ned is Ninety program-tied together with excerpts from Rorem's famed diaries from New York, Paris and Nantucket-will feature highlights from his half-century career as a songwriter, along with music by his friends and inspirations:Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, Theodore Chanler,Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc, and Virgil Thomson.
The "agile, vivacious" Kate Lindsey (The New York Times) returns to the NYFOS stage alongside American song champion Andrew Garland, "a highly communicative performer with an attractive, clear, ringing tone, who has wowed New York Festival of Song audiences" (Opera News). Garland also has an acclaimed album recently released, American Portraits, which features four contemporary song cycles by American composers.
The pair of singers will be joined by NYFOS artistic director Steven Blier and associate artistic director Michael Barrett on piano.
NYFOS's illustrious history with Rorem includes the evening-length song cycle they commissioned, Evidence of Things Not Seen, which was recorded in 1997 on New World Records and nominated for a Grammy. NYFOS premiered the cycle at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in January 1998. New York magazine called Evidence of Things Not Seen "one of the musically richest, most exquisitely fashioned, most voice-friendly collections of songs I have ever heard by any American composer;" Chamber Music magazine deemed it "a masterpiece."
(Songs by Rorem, unless otherwise noted)
From Whence Cometh Song
Rain in Spring
Full of Life Now
Rorem: The Lordly Hudson
As Adam, early in the morning
A Glimpse (Evidence of Things Not Seen)
FRIENDS AND TEACHERS
Thomson: Sigh No More, Ladies
Chanler: These, My Ophelia
Copland: "Good March, come in" from the Dickinson Songs
Barber: "I Hear an Army"
Rorem: Specimen Case
Rorem: The Comfort of Friends
Bernstein: What Lips these Lips Have Kissed, from Songfest
Bowles: Once a Lady was Here
Come In from Evidence
Little Elegy from Six Songs
NED ROREM: Words and music are inextricably linked for Ned Rorem. Time magazine has called him "the world's best composer of art songs," yet his musical and literary ventures extend far beyond this specialized field. Rorem has composed three symphonies, four piano concertos and an array of other orchestral works, music for numerous combinations of chamber forces, ten operas, choral works of every description, ballets and other music for the theater, and literally hundreds of songs and cycles. He is the author of sixteen books, including five volumes of diaries and collections of lectures and criticism.
Ned Rorem is one of America's most honored composers. In addition to a Pulitzer Prize, awarded in 1976 for his suite Air Music, Rorem has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (1951), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1957), and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1968). He is a three-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award; in 1998 he was chosen Composer of the Year by Musical America. The Atlanta Symphony recording of the String Symphony, SundayMorning, and Eagles received a Grammy Award for Outstanding Orchestral Recording in 1989. From 2000 to 2003 he served as President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003 he received ASCAP's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in January 2004 the French government named him Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Among his many commissions for new works are those from the Ford Foundation (for Poems of Love and the Rain, 1962), the Lincoln Center Foundation (for Sun, 1965); the Koussevitzky Foundation (for Letters from Paris, 1966); the Atlanta Symphony (String Symphony, 1985); the Chicago Symphony (Goodbye My Fancy, 1990); Carnegie Hall (Spring Music, 1991), and the New York Philharmonic (Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra, 1993). Among the distinguished conductors who have performed his music are Bernstein, Masur, Mehta, Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Previn, Reiner, Slatkin, Steinberg, and Stokowski.
Rorem is justly renowned for his art songs; his catalog includes more than 500 works in the medium. Evidence of Things Not Seen, his evening-length song cycle for four singers and piano-commissioned, premiered and recorded by the New York Festival of Song-represents his magnum opus in the genre.
Rorem's most recent opera, Our Town, which he completed with librettist Sandy McClatchy, is a setting of the acclaimed Thorton Wilder play of the same name. It premiered at the Indiana University Jacob's School of Music in February 2007 and has enjoyed subsequent performances with the Lake George Opera and Aspen Music Theater Center, with future performances scheduled at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Opera Boston, and Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, CA.
October 23, 2003 marked the composer's 80th birthday, highlighting a season of international festivities. Chief among them was the Curtis Institute of Music's "Roremania," a two-week celebration encompassing works in every genre. The birthday season brought a trio of new concertos from Rorem: Cello Concerto, commissioned by the Residentie Orchestra and the Kansas City Orchestra for David Geringas; Flute Concerto, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra for its principal flutist Jeffrey Khaner; and Mallet Concerto, commissioned for Evelyn Glennie by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Eos Orchestra.
His most recent publication, Facing the Night: A Diary (1999-2005) and Musical Writings, chronicles Rorem's dark journey after the death of 32 year companion, Jim Holmes. In his diary, Lies, (published by Counterpoint Press in 2000) Rorem said, "My music is a diary no less compromising than my prose. A diary nevertheless differs from a musical composition in that it depicts the moment, the writer's present mood which, were it inscribed an hour later, could emerge quite otherwise. I don't believe that composers notate their moods, they don't tell the music where to go - it leads them....Why do I write music? Because I want to hear it - it's simple as that. Others may have more talent, more sense of duty. But I compose just from necessity, and no one else is making what I need."
Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana on October 23, 1923. As a child he moved to Chicago with his family; by the age of ten his piano teacher had introduced him to Debussy and Ravel, an experience which "changed my life forever," according to the composer. At seventeen he entered the Music School of Northwestern University, two years later receiving a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He studied composition under Bernard Wagenaar at Juilliard, taking his B.A. in 1946 and his M.A. degree (along with the $1,000 George Gershwin Memorial Prize in composition) in 1948. In New York he worked as Virgil Thomson's copyist in return for $20 a week and orchestration lessons. He studied on fellowship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood in the summers of 1946 and 1947; in 1948 his song The Lordly Hudson was voted the best published song of that year by the Music Library Association.
In 1949 Rorem moved to France, and lived there until 1958. His years as a young composer among the leading figures of the artistic and social milieu of post-war Europe are absorbingly portrayed in The Paris Diary and The New York Diary, 1951-1961 (reissued by Da Capo, 1998). He currently lives in New York City.
Now in its 26th 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 unforgettable evenings of compelling theater. Each seamless evening of song and story engages, entertains, educates and fosters community among artists and audiences in a spirit of shared adventure. 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. www.nyfos.org