MasterVoices to Perform New York Premiere of Jeremy Schonfeld's Rock-Opera IRON & COAL
MasterVoices, led by Artistic Director Ted Sperling, continues its 2019-20 season on January 10 and 11 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with the New York premiere of Iron & Coal, Jeremy Schonfeld's multimedia rock-opera about his family's experience in the Holocaust and its aftermath. Along with MasterVoices, joining Schonfeld onstage will be distinguished theater artist Rinde Eckert, tenor Daniel Rowan, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the New York-based contemporary music ensemble, Contemporaneous.
The direction is by Kevin Newbury with music direction and arrangements by David Bloom. The projection design is by S. Katy Tucker, with lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Tyler Kieffer, animation design by Tom Seltzer, and choreography by Natalie Lomonte.
This powerful and personal work (a "gripping, forceful, and stirring opus," The Washington Post) is based on the composer's own personal story and that of his father, Gustav Schonfeld, a childhood survivor of Auschwitz and author of the 2009 memoir, "Absence of Closure." Schonfeld, in true singer/songwriter tradition, leads the audience on a journey through past and present, from the death of his father to the birth of his son. The ghosts of a vanished world mix with the present, brought to life through animation, a rock band, a youth orchestra, and adult and youth choruses, to celebrate the indomitable spirit of our ancestors and the legacy we carry with us.
Iron & Coal is produced by Beth Morrison Projects, in association with MasterVoices and Brooklyn Youth Chorus, based on the original concept album Iron & Coal by Jeremy Schonfeld, and is co-presented by PROTOTYPE Festival. It was commissioned and developed by Strathmore and Beth Morrison Projects.
Friday, January 10, 2020, 8:00 pm
Saturday, January 11, 2020, 8:00 pm
Iron & Coal
Composed, created and performed by Jeremy Schonfeld
Libretto by Jeremy Schonfeld based on the book "Absence of Closure" by Gustav Schonfeld
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Directed by Kevin Newbury
Music direction and arrangements by David Bloom
Projection Design by S. Katy Tucker
Lighting Design by Japhy Weideman
Sound Design by Tyler Kieffer
Animation Design by Tom Seltzer
Choreography by Natalie Lomonte
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Jeremy Schonfeld SON
Rinde Eckert FATHER
Daniel Rowan YOUNG FATHER
About Iron & Coal
The ghosts of a distant and vanished world, both of horror and the iron will to survive, mix with the present in Iron & Coal, initially produced as a 2011 concept album. It has now been brought to life onstage using animation, projections, a band, youth chorus, and youth orchestra to celebrate the indomitable spirit of our ancestors and the legacy we carry with us.
The U.S. premiere took place in May 2018 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Maryland. Writing in The Washington Post, critic Celia Wren said, "Part rock anthem, part off-Broadway musical, part singer-songwriter opus, the stirring wistful music regularly gathers swelling forcefulness, with snowballing orchestral textures and catchy, urgent rhythms."
Taking inspiration from his father Gustav's memoir "Absence of Closure," Jeremy Schonfeld traces his father's attempts to create a life out of the ashes having spent a year in Auschwitz in 1944-45 at the age of ten. Having been one of the few survivors along with his family, Gustav was saved because of his father's work as a doctor. Schonfeld weaves memories of his own early childhood and his own coming to terms with the death of his father Gustav and with the birth of his own son.
Jeremy Schonfeld is a singer/songwriter, composer/lyricist, occasional actor, producer, mentor and teacher. His album "37 Notebooks," featured vocal performance contributions from Adam Pascal, Julia Murney, Tracie Thoms, Amy Spanger, Lauren Kennedy, and Donnie Kehr. His song "House of Love," recorded by Shoshana Bean for "37 Notebooks" featuring the Broadway Dreams Chorus, has been recorded and performed numerous times, and is consistently used in many diverse charitable campaigns including Defying Inequality and Rockers on Broadway. Additional albums include "Drift and Blue Skies and All," plus song contributions to the movie soundtrack for "Clear Blue Tuesday" (in which he co-starred) and the featured single "Babazille Mahlangu" written for the Broadway in South Africa campaign. Currently, he has been working in Nashville with producer Caleb Sherman, writing and producing material for up-and-coming singer Brook Wood and executive producing an EP for young singer/songwriter Lauren Weintraub.
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) was founded in 1941 by legendary American choral conductor Robert Shaw and has been under the artistic direction of Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling since 2013. Known for its versatility, the group's repertoire ranges from choral masterpieces and operas in concert to operettas and musical theater; it is also known for highly theatrical performances of rarely-heard works such as last season's Lady in the Dark by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland, Scott Joplin's Treemonisha, Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans, and Rossini's Moïse et Pharaon. The group regularly commissions and premieres new works; recent seasons included works by Ricky Ian Gordon and Randall Eng.
As the country's first interracial and interfaith chorus, the group performed at the opening of the United Nations and has sung and recorded under the batons of esteemed conductors including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Alan Gilbert. It has been engaged by top-tier orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared at the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals.
Concerts regularly feature an inclusive roster of world-class soloists from across the musical spectrum, including Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Deborah Voigt, Eric Owens, Nmon Ford, John Holiday, Kelli O'Hara, Paulo Szot, Bebe Neuwirth, and Victoria Clark, along with cross-disciplinary collaborations with such diverse creative minds as Vogue Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles, Silk Road visual artist Kevork Mourad, and acclaimed choreographer Doug Varone. Roger Rees was the group's Artistic Associate from 2003-2015.
For more information, visit mastervoices.org. Connect with MasterVoices on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@mastervoicesny).
About Ted Sperling
One of today's leading musical artists, Tony Award-winning Maestro Ted Sperling is a classically trained musician whose 30-year career has spanned from the concert hall and the opera house to the Broadway stage. Presently Artistic Director of MasterVoices, he has led such symphony orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, the Iceland Symphony, Czech National Symphony and BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as New York City Opera and Houston Grand Opera. Formerly Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic, Mr. Sperling is a multi-faceted artist also known for his work as orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist, violist, director, and music director.
With MasterVoices, projects have included acclaimed productions of rarely-heard gems such as Kurt Weill's The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday, The Road of Promise (based on The Eternal Road and subsequently recorded on Navona Records), last season's sold-out three-performance run of Lady in the Dark at New York City Center, and George and Ira Gershwins' 1933 musical Let 'Em Eat Cake at Carnegie Hall this past November. Other notable productions with the group include the NYC premieres of David Lang's battle hymns at the Intrepid Museum and Ricky Ian Gordon's operas The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall and 27 at City Center.
Outside of MasterVoices, 2019 projects include bringing The King and I to Japan, and several programs with the San Diego Symphony. Notable 2018 concerts included a Bernstein recital with soprano Isabel Leonard at the Kimmel Center and the Park Avenue Armory, an opera program with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, a benefit concert staging of Camelot starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, and two film programs with San Francisco Symphony. He served as Music Director and conductor for the revival of My Fair Lady, at Lincoln Center Theater, and serves as Artistic Director of NYU's newly launched Broadway Orchestra Initiative. He made his Broadway stage debut as Wallace Hartley in Titanic and appeared as Steve Allen in the finale of Season Two of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
Sperling has conducted multiple concerts for PBS's Live From Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. He conducted Audra McDonald in a double bill of La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Send: Who Are You? I Love You? at the Houston Grand Opera. He won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also Music Director.
In addition to his directing work with MasterVoices, Mr. Sperling's work as a stage director includes the world premieres of four critically acclaimed original musicals Off-Broadway-including The Other Josh Cohen and See What I Wanna See-and a noted production of Lady in the Dark at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia, starring Andrea Marcovicci. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and received the Faculty Prize at The Juilliard School.