Blog #1 of Classical Concrete!
Welcome to the debut post of Classical Concrete, curated by moi, Mary Claire Curran. Classical Concrete is inspired by the NYC classical music scene.
The accompanying Spotify playlist tries to encompass all the songs performed and the artists included in this blog; however, some liberties were made. Strangely enough, the irony of naming my blog Classical Concrete is that this month most of the concerts were not classical! However, CS Music and Classical Singer magazine both do a beautiful job encompassing musical theatre and contemporary music, and I hope to as well.
Mise-en-scène Studios (or affectionately known as MESS), describes itself as, “an opera-focused classical arts company, economically and artistically built for the 21st century.” They cater to young talent and young audiences, stating their business model is a millennial’s subscription service for concerts. Each event features an open bar, an interesting venue, some food, and always world class music.
And your first time at MESS is free although you must be 21+ to attend. MESS has quickly made a name for itself as the place to be and be seen for young NYC artists.
Their February 10th concert was held at the Serindia Gallery at The Blue Building on the lower east side of Manhattan. No Strings was a beautiful and intimate recital by superstar soprano Leah Crocetto and MESS co-founder, pianist Lachlan Glen. The pair produced a concert with the right notes of fuzzy love, sentimental warmth, heart-wrenching pain and anger, and well-timed comedy. Leah is truly a one-of-a-kind artist to have the vocal flexibility to move from jazz to pop to an opera aria back to pop again with no signs of vocal fatigue. Her caramel tone and bright diction leave you hanging on to her every word. It makes sense that she started her singing journey as a jazz singer.
As you will hear in the Classical Concrete Spotify playlist the first half of the program was about love and the second half was about break-ups.
Spotify Organization: MESS Concert – “At Last” to “My Heart Will Go On”
“Inspired by the artistry and activism of George Bernard Shaw, the Gingold Theatrical Group creates theatre and theatre-related programs that promote Shaw’s humanitarian ideals by promoting peaceful discussion and activism in the arts. We strive to embrace universal human rights, the freedom of thought and speech, and the equality of all living beings through all of our programming.” That is a beautiful mission statement, made even more beautiful because they practice what they preach. Directed by GTG founder David Staller, Shaw Songs incorporated the music Shaw would have played on the piano and music he experienced in his lifetime (1856-1950). The February 11th concert was held at The Players Club on Gramercy Park, a private social club for actors. Featuring pianist Henry Aronson (Rocktopia, Rock of Ages), singers Jim Brochu (Brigadoon), Mara Davi (A Chorus Line, TV: Smash) Howard McGillin (Sunday in the Park with George, The Secret Garden, Phantom of the Opera), and Tony Award Winners Cady Huffman (The Producers), and Karen Ziemba (Contact).
In addition, jazz pianist Jon Weber with violinist/mandolinist Aaron Weinstein. And me! While everyone was performing in the first act, I waited in the green room since I sang the closing song of the evening, a 5-minute power ballad, “My Hero” from the operetta The Chocolate Soldier.
I was minding my own business reviewing my music at Mark Twain’s poker table when who walks in but Martin Scorsese and his entourage to scope out the room for a movie. He was as nice as could be. You never know who you will meet in NYC!
Spotify Organization: Project Shaw – “I’ve Got Rhythm” to “Strange Humors”
On February 20th New York Festival of Song presented Hyphenated-Americans at Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center. The intelligent program commenced with mezzo-soprano, Alexandra Urquiola and pianist/co-founder of NYFOS, Steven Blier, performing the World Premiere of Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad’s Prece (Prayer) and performing Assad’s song-cycle Elementos. I sincerely hope Ms. Assad asks Alexandra and Steven to record her works because I would love to hear these pieces again!
The program then moved to Chinese-American composer, and Bernstein student, Bright Sheng’s Three Chinese Love Songs (included in the Spotify playlist). The piece was performed by soprano Amy Owens who has a voice like an elastic bell, violist Tien-Hsin (Cindy) Wu, and pianist Leann Osterkamp. The first half of the concert concluded with first-generation American, Iranian-American composer, Daniel Sabzghabaei’s piece entitled At The Door, which uses Rumi’s Ghazal 436 text between Lover and Belovéd. The piece featured soprano Amy Owens, baritone Jesse Blumberg, and pianist Leann Osterkamp.
The second half of the concert was devoted entirely to Puerto Rican-American composer Roberto Sierra and the American Premiere of his song-cycle 33 Sueños (33 Dreams). This massive undertaking was performed stoically by baritone, Jesse Blumberg and pianist, Leann Osterkamp.
Spotify Organization: NYFOS – “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” to “Sinfonia No. 3 ‘La Salsa’: I Tumboa