BWW Interview: Michael Feinstein Brings the Great American Songbook to Strathmore
Washington has no shortage of diplomats and experts, but you would be hard-pressed to find a greater ambassador for the American songbook than five-time Grammy-nominee Michael Feinstein. Many only get to experience Feinstein through his recordings, PBS specials and the NPR show Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. However, this Saturday capital-area music and theatre aficionados will have the opportunity see him perform at the Strathmore Annual Spring Gala.
"I've been lucky enough to appear at the Strathmore and have always been impressed by the space, the way it's managed and its mission to bring the arts-at-large to the community. So it was a no brainer to accept," says Feinstein in a phone interview with BroadwayWorld DC.
Strathmore's Annual Spring Gala will support the 350 annual programs the Center puts on each year. Throughout the performance, Feinstein will be joined by several artists-in-residence in celebrating the great American songbook with classics ranging from George Gershwin to Frank Sinatra.
"It really is going to be a fun celebration featuring Gershwin, some of the classics, and of course this great Sinatra Medley. We'll also have a special guest star, Laura Osnes, who I think the world of and is just wonderful, and together we're going to do a duet," says Feinstein.
When asked how he goes about working with other artists whether in a concert or on an album, Feinstein is quick to say that the relationship begins with respect. From there it is about getting to know each other and finding commonalities.
"The first thing you do is see what you have in common with the other artist. You talk and discover what they like," says Feinstein. "For me, there is no point in doing a duet unless it is organic or there is an emotional thru line. It has to be there, and Laura and I have worked together, and we have that."
A core pillar of Strathmore's work and identity is their educational programs that develop and cultivate young artists. With several of them expected to be onstage Saturday night and in the audience, Feinstein shared some advice for those hoping to follow in his footsteps.
"As hackneyed and cliché as it sounds, follow your heart. We are all given intuition and instincts, and sometimes it is hard to follow those instincts with the fears and pressures that surround us - but you have to do it. Believe in yourself, and find ways to express yourself and find the discipline to keep growing," says Feinstein.
Tickets to Saturday night's Gala are still available and maybe purchased on Strathmore's website. In addition to supporting a great cause, not to mention seeing Feinstein and Osnes perform, tickets will also grant you access to a jazzy after party with live music, drinks and dessert.
"I feel so incredibly blessed to make music during this time, because it is a volatile time. The arts are tremendously powerful in bringing people with opposing views together. We've lost that and I pray that we connect more strongly thru the arts with those who don't see eye to eye," says Feinstein.