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Posted by on Aug 5, 2011 in News | 0 comments


24th Season

Steven Blier, Artistic Director  •  Michael Barrett, Associate Artistic Director


Year 2 of the mini-series that showcases contemporary songs
Hosts and curators: Joseph Thalken and Russell Platt

en Blier, pianist and arranger • Michael Barrett, pianist

NYFOS features the b
urgeoning talent of composer/singer Gabriel Kahane with the premiere of his song cycle The Memory Palace,
plus songs from Frank Bridge, Villa-Lobos, Granados, Sondheim & Smokey RobinsonMichelle Areyzaga, soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo • Paul Appleby, tenor Andrew Garland, baritone

MANNING THE CANON: Songs of Gay Life
Two centuries of songs by and about gay men
Poulenc, Tchaikovsky, Griffes, de Falla, Bernstein, Cole Porter, Blitzstein, Schubert, Saint-Saëns
Scott Murphree, tenor • Jesse Blumberg, Timothy McDevitt, baritones • Matt Boehler, bass

A GOYISHE CHRISTMAS TO YOU! Yuletide Classics by Jewish Songwriters
Who else is gonna write our favorite Christmas tunes?
Music by Frank Loesser, Styne and Cahn, Mel Tormé, Irving Berlin and many others
Lauren Worsham, soprano • Mary Testa, vocalist • Josh Breitzer, tenor • John Brancy, Joshua Jeremiah, baritones • Alan Kay, clarinet

“The awkwardness, pain, lust and perversity of contemporary relationships” (The New York Times)

Music by Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, The Bobs, William Bolcom, Noël Coward, Ed Kleban & more
Anne-Carolyn Bird, soprano • Liza Forrester, mezzo-soprano • Alex Mansoori, tenor • Jesse Blumberg, baritone

New Yorkers and Parisians at Home and Traveling the World

Music by Rorem, Charles Trenet, Milhaud, Roussel, Gershwin and many others
Introducing members of Caramoor’s 2012 Vocal Rising Stars


Blier and Barrett continue their work nurturing stellar young singers

NYFOS’ radio series continues across the U.S., produced by WFMT and hosted by Frederica von Stade

All shows except New York/Paris will be performed without intermission
All Merkin shows are followed by a free meet-the-artists wine reception

“People have a primal need to be sung to.” — Steven Blier

NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG (NYFOS) creates intimate concerts that breathe new life into an art form that is rich and emotionally resonant, yet is too often treated as genteel, intellectual, and predictable. Led by founders Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, armed with just two pianos, a splendid array of singers, a sense of humor, and a love of words and music—not to mention a knowledge of musical culture savvy enough to find the 19th-century gem that speaks to today’s sensibilities—NYFOS plunders music’s remote precincts to create evenings of the deepest pleasure. At NYFOS concerts, Debussy speaks to doo-wop, Lieder to Latin jazz, Josquin to the just-written.

In addition to the much-loved Merkin Concert Hall series, NYFOS continues its expanded programs:

• No Song is Safe From Us, a nationally syndicated radio series produced by Chicago’s famed WFMT and hosted by Frederica von Stade. Drawing upon NYFOS’s extensive archives and recordings, the series includes two programs featuring the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

• NYFOS Next, free one-hour concerts of contemporary songs curated and hosted this season by composers Joseph Thalken and Russell Platt. The shows are presented on November 8, 2011 and April 24, 2012 in the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

• New Venues: NYFOS is making its debut at three new venues this season: the unique, cube-shaped Calderwood Hall in Renzo Piano’s new wing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston; the Mary Flagler Cary Hall in the newly opened DiMenna Center for Classical Music (Orchestra of St. Luke’s new home); and the Dorothy Betts Theater, Marvin Center at George Washington University.

Plus NYFOS has brand new offers for audiences to enjoy:

• “Real Deal” Ticket Bargain: NYFOS is now offering a limited number of seats for every performance, for advance purchase, at only $25. The only unknown is the seating location.

• Post-Concert Wine Receptions with the Cast: Every NYFOS show is a party—and this year NYFOS is offering not only a complimentary post-concert wine reception with the cast in Merkin’s upstairs reception area, but providing extra time to enjoy it. With the exception of the March 13 New York/Paris show, NYFOS will run its shows straight through without intermission in order to finish around 9:30pm.

Steven Blier, legendary accompanist and teacher whom The New York Times calls “a national treasure,” says: “The 2011-12 concert season is leading up to my own marriage, planned for next May. As I prepare to tie the knot, the program themes resonate deeply: family celebrations in NYFOS’s first-ever Christmas program; courtship and relationships in Memory Palace and Hookup/Breakup; my passion for my hometown and fascination with French culture in New York to Paris; and of course the beautiful, long tradition of gay artists in Manning the Canon. A heartbreakingly gifted roster of singers guarantees a year-long festival of song.”

Michael Barrett, acclaimed programming innovator and conductor who is General Director of Caramoor and co-founder of the Moab Music Festival, adds: “We are also excited about NYFOS Next, our new contemporary music series, where we lavish time and attention on today’s most innovative songwriters. Not to mention our new national radio series—sort of a NYFOS Home Companion—which mines the NYFOS archives for treasures the whole world can hear.”


“New York Festival of Song reinvented the song recital.” The New Yorker

“Evenings that can feel like dream dinner parties—the kind where a group of fascinating strangers come together to have wonderfully unexpected conversations.” — Opera America

“Best classical programming in New York.” — New York Magazine

“Every detail was designed to give the evening seamless coherence, and you left the hall feeling enriched, enlightened, entertained and grateful for the experience.”— The Washington Post


T H E  ’11 / 12  S E A S O N

NYFOS NEXT, the mini-series

Mary Flagler Cary Hall at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music

450 West 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues

Free admission • Reservations are required

646-230-8380 or

Complimentary beverages will be served

Following up on last year’s debut season of NYFOS Next, curated by modern icons Gabriel Kahane and Phil Kline, this second installment spotlights the musical theater works of Joseph Thalken and the exquisite lyricism of Russell Platt. NYFOS Next looks to the future, opening a forum for the next generation of song composers and interpreters. Audiences enjoy an up-close encounter with the creative process, and freshly-minted songs are shared among creative companions—some for the first time. With an emphasis on spontaneity, novelty, and collaboration, NYFOS Next pioneers an experimental venue for song, paralleling New York Festival of Song’s celebrated concert series in Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011, at 7:00PM
NYFOS Next: Joseph Thalken & Friends

A program of new theater music curated and hosted by up-and-coming composer Joseph Thalken (Harold & Maude: an intimate musical). Performers and composers TBA. Tickets available starting November 1, 2011.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 7:00PM
NYFOS Next: Russell Platt & Friends

A program of new vocal music curated and hosted by the award-winning composer and writer Russell Platt. Performers and composers TBA. Tickets available starting April 17, 2012.


All concerts begin at 8:00PM

Five programs, Eight concerts

$40–$55 for single tickets; student tickets $15

New this year: Real Deal Tickets – $25 Advance Purchase/“Pot Luck” Seating

129 West 67th St.  •  212-501-3330


Tuesday, October 25 and Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michelle Areyzaga, soprano; Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano; Paul Appleby, tenor; Andrew Garland, baritone; Steven Blier, Michael Barrett, pianists

This opening night program centers around the premiere of Gabriel Kahane’s song-cycle, The Memory Palace, which evokes scenes of East Coast solitude with his uniquely haunting music and mordant lyrics. An alternating series of cycles and quartets by composers including Frank Bridge, Enrique Granados, Stephen Sondheim, and Heitor Villa-Lobos, follows the theme of yearning across the borders of geography and imagination into longed-for lands.

Steven Blier talks about In the Memory Palace:

“Memory Palace allows us to explore some of the composers whose music has fascinated us over the past years: the rarely-heard Frank Bridge, who was Benjamin Britten’s teacher and a fascinating, multi-faceted songwriter in his own right; Enrique Granados, whose classic song cycle Tonadillas combines high-voltage charm with startling emotional depths; and Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose Forest of the Amazon songs are like an instant immersion (eco-friendly, of course) into the exotic, passionate sounds of the Brazilian jungle. Best of all, Memory Palace reunites us with one of today’s greatest songwriters, Gabriel Kahane, who combines a refreshingly modern sensibility with the refinement and compositional skill of his greatest forbears: Elvis Costello mated with Gabriel Fauré.”

MANNING THE CANON: Songs of Gay Life

Back By Popular Demand!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scott Murphee, tenor; Jesse Blumberg, Timothy McDevitt, baritones; Matt Boehler, bass; Steven Blier, pianist

NYFOS returns with its rousing, touching celebration of the lives and art of gay men in works that reflect the heritage of gay composers in art song, as well as contemporary songs about the gay experience. Featured composers include Poulenc, Tchaikovsky, Griffes, Bernstein, Porter, Wallowich, and Blitzstein. After last year’s rapturously received performance, Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times: “Such programs can easily fall into the trap of social politics and turn maudlin, agenda driven and campy. This one was insightful and imaginative, touching and funny.”  Read the rave here.

Blier talks about Manning the Canon:

“This is a program we debuted last season, after I had been longing to do it for about two decades. It explores two centuries of gay composers and gay-themed songs, and presents a wide variety of characters: experienced guys on the prowl for a good time; sensitive men grappling with their sexuality; hyper-males and drag queens; ecstatic lovers and those just awakening to their erotic nature. The composers come from seven countries and span 190 years, but they have one thing in common: they are all masters of words and music, and present a vital and engaging portrait of our gay heritage. The joys of gay brotherhood, the lacerating wit of our most brilliant writers, the subtle signals we’ve created to locate one another, and the crises we’ve faced and survived: these are the subjects of Manning the Canon.”

A GOYISHE CHRISTMAS TO YOU! Yuletide Classics by Jewish Songwriters

Tuesday, November 29 and Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lauren Worsham, soprano; Mary Testa, vocalist; Josh Breitzer, tenor; John Brancy, Joshua Jeremiah, baritone; Alan Kay, clarinet; Steven Blier, piano

NYFOS is thrilled to present its first-ever Christmas show. And what better way to celebrate the holiday season in New York than with a program of Yuletide songs, from classic to comic—entirely written by Jewish composers, ranging from Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, and Irving Berlin to Johnny Marks, Jay Livingston, and Adolphe Adam?

Blier talks about A Goyishe Christmas to You!:

“In America, pretty much everyone celebrates St. Nick’s Day one way or another, no matter what religious group they call their own. No wonder that Jewish composers wrote so many famous Yuletide songs—as well as a repertoire of wickedly funny parody versions of the old favorites. We previewed this Christmas show last year at Henry’s Restaurant where it provoked a delirium of excitement; that night, I knew we would have to reprise our versions of ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer’—sung in Yiddish, Klezmer-style—for the NYFOS audience.”


Tuesday, February 14 and Thursday, February 16, 2012

Anne-Carolyn Bird, soprano; Liza Forrester, mezzo-soprano; Alex Mansoori, tenor; Jesse Blumberg, baritone; Steven Blier, pianist

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, audiences can bring their best (or worst) date to Merkin Hall for a “quirky survey of the awkwardness, pain, lust and perversity of contemporary relationships” (The New York Times). NYFOS examines the full range of modern love with affection and humor through songs of Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, The Bobs, William Bolcom, Noël Coward, Jason Robert Brown, Ed Kleban, and others. Subjects range from voyeurism, S&M, and exhibitionism to good old-fashioned heart-to-heart love. Read the complete New York Times review here.

Blier talks about A Modern Person’s Guide to Hooking Up and Breaking Up:

“When we saw that our February concert was going to fall on Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t resist reviving A Modern Person’s Guide to Hooking Up and Breaking Up. It was one of our favorite NYFOS shows, a freewheeling, all-embracing look at a dizzying spectrum of amorous attractions. This will be a second edition of the show, including some wonderful new songs I’ve encountered in the last few years.”


Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 4pm, Music Room, Rosen House, Caramoor in Katonah, NY

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8pm, Merkin Concert Hall

Members of Caramoor’s 2012 Vocal Rising Stars program

New Yorkers love New York, and Parisians love Paris. But the French have always been drawn to the Big Apple, and Americans flock to the City of Light.  Songs by Ned Rorem, Charles Trenet, Albert Roussel and George Gershwin celebrate both towns—and take us on a quick journey to Africa and Asia too. These two concerts conclude NYFOS’s fourth annual NYFOS@Caramoor professional training residency.

Blier talks about New York to Paris, Paris to Paradise:

“This tale of two cities has a four-stop itinerary: New Yorkers in Paris, Parisians at home, Parisians abroad, and New Yorkers back in Manhattan. We’ll hear from the globe-trotting French and American musicians who straddled the Atlantic: Ned Rorem and George Gershwin, Francis Poulenc and Charles Trenet, William Bolcom and Darius Milhaud. The snazzy elegance of French music and the elegant snazziness of American music will provide our Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars with a week of joy and stimulation. It’s always a high point of my year to welcome the spring in that peaceful beehive of artistic creativity.”


Free Admission • Tickets are required

Tickets available starting January 3, 2012 at The Juilliard School Box Office 212-769-7406


Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 8:00PM

Peter J. Sharp Theater at Juilliard

Steven Blier and Michael Barrett; students from The Juilliard School Vocal Department

Marking the seventh annual NYFOS@Juilliard concert, Invitation to the Dance celebrates NYFOS’ ongoing collaboration with Juilliard choreographer/dance instructor Jeanne Slater, whose musical staging has added luster to so many productions. The program includes songs about dancing (Respighi, Brahms, Sellars, Hahn, Rodgers) and songs with dancing (Gershwin, Harry Warren, Youmans, and others). The Juilliard Vocal Arts singers are amazingly light on their feet, as anyone who saw last year’s production of The Bartered Bride can attest. This is a project Blier and Barrett have been wanting to do for several years, and the stars have finally aligned to make it a reality.

Blier talks about Invitation to the Dance:

“I can’t wait to set the Juilliard cast loose on this project. They come up with great programming ideas, and it’s always amazing to watch them swing into movement. These young people are classic triple threat entertainers—singers, dancers, and actors of startling individuality.”


OVER THE RAINBOW: Songs of Harold Arlen

Monday, April 2, 2012, 7:00PM

Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and ‘21’ Club

The gala concert in celebration of the close of NYFOS’ 24th season will feature the songs of the great Harold Arlen, accompanied by Steven Blier. The concert program is followed by an elegant supper at ‘21’ Club. Contact New York Festival of Song (646) 230-8380 for further information.

NO SONG IS SAFE FROM US, the radio series

A 13-segment radio series produced by Chicago’s WFMT

Hosted by Frederica von Stade

NYFOS’ new radio series, hosted by legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade, continues on the WFMT Radio Network, with broadcast and distribution throughout the United States. For program details and more, click here. Radio audiences will hear unique NYFOS concerts and recordings drawn from nearly a quarter century of recorded archives and critically acclaimed recordings. Singers featured in the radio segments include Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Stephanie Blythe, Joseph Kaiser, Judy Kaye, Dina Kuznetsova, and William Burden.

Among the programs are:

–      Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (highlights from this great artist’s 13 performances with NYFOS between 1990 and her death in 2006)

–      Lost Tribes of Vaudeville (a celebration of Black and Jewish vaudeville)

–      Latin Lovers (art song and theater music from Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba)

–      Kurt Weill’s Berlin (including cabaret songs from 1920s Berlin)

–      Poets Without Heroes (settings and readings of poetry by Soviet poet Anna Akhmatova and her circle)

–      Fugitives (music by composers who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s)

(Courtesy of Aleba Gartner Associates)

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