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New York Festival of Song Releases FROM RAGS TO RICHES: 100 YEARS OF AMERICAN SONG

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Feat. Stephanie Blythe and William Burden

New York Festival of Song Releases FROM RAGS TO RICHES: 100 YEARS OF AMERICAN SONG

On Friday, January 28, 2022, New York Festival of Song releases From Rags to Riches: 100 Years of American Song on its new in-house label, NYFOS Records.

The label's debut album features the acclaimed voices of mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and tenor William Burden, together with Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the NYFOS who accompanies Blythe and Burden, on piano in works spanning art song, musical theater, jazz, and opera.

The album is taken from a live concert recording at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York on March 23, 2000: From Rags to Riches, a compendium of American songs celebrating the last century as the new century began.

The first single from the album, Thelonious Monk and Bernie Hanighen's 'Round Midnight, arranged by Ricky Ian Gordon and performed by Stephanie Blythe and Steven Blier, is out today on all platforms. Listen to 'Round Midnight. The Company's recording of Oh Gee! Oh Joy! will be released as a single on January 7, 2022.

Steven Blier describes Stephanie Blythe's voice as "a natural wonder, an uncanny mix of power and flexibility." Of William Burden and his collaboration with Blythe, Blier recounts, "His sweet sound and patrician phrasing were the perfect foil for Stephanie's volcanic energy, and the two of them were able to navigate all the stylistic zigzags of twentieth century American song."

From Rags to Riches: 100 Years of American Song embraces a wide spectrum of music - art songs by Barber (Nocturne) and Griffes (Evening Song), musical theater pieces by Rodgers (Take the Moment) and Sondheim (The Ballad of Booth), jazz tunes by Eubie Blake (Hit the Road) and Thelonious Monk ('Round Midnight), and an opera aria by William Bolcom (New York Lights). As the program proceeds chronologically through the century, America grows up, sometimes confronting its problems head-on, sometimes working it all out on the dance floor.

Blier explains that he is always on the lookout for songs that deal with important social issues: Cook's My Lady Frog is a subtle parable about race and inclusion; Larson's Hosing the Furniture, a hilarious feminist tract; and Blitzstein's Nickel Under the Foot, an eloquent indictment of class struggle. The newest song, Bolcom's New York Lights, is about the immigrant's dream of America, and the oldest one, Lowry's How Can I Keep from Singing, is a testament to the nation's resilience in the face of injustice - as well as a hymn to the power of song itself.


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