Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for December 19, 2010 "The Best of 2010"

It was the best of times, it was the ... best of times at Salon this past Sunday, as we celebrated the Holiday season and the end of 2010. The theme was "The Best of 2010," so performers brought out their big guns - the best pieces they sang in the past year, the best songs written, and the work that makes them feel the best! The co-hosts of the evening were members of The Salon Board itself! They took turns throughout the evening, singing and then introducing the other singers. And we had holiday treats too - each singer was given a beautiful Salon-themed ornament, hand-made by David Gillam.

Mark Janas, after playing a little Chopin ballade, introduced the first co-host of the evening, Board member Sue Matsuki, who opened up the holiday cheer with the lovely ballad "Evening in December." Sue brought up Steve "The Whistler" Herbst, who was inspired by last week's Classical Corner to bring in a whistled version of "Maria" from West Side Story. Mark Levy next brought in the darkly hilarious "Twelve Days After Christmas," which answered the question of what the three french hens could be used for... Next, Board member/co-host Bill Zeffiro performed his original "So It's Christmas," a sweet, reminiscent ballad. Then, returning fellow composer Marc Ostrow sang his original comedy song "Let's Have a Jewish Christmas" (you can view the song on YouTube.com). Then Gladys Nilsen, decked out to the nines, sang "Himno Al Amor" and the sing-along "Feliz Navidad."

Bill Zeffiro
Then, Board member and Blogette Sierra Rein (that's me) sang a solo from what she considered was the best show of 2010 - "Move Over" by Janis Joplin, from Marquee Five's fall show "8-Track Throwback." Then, Keni Fine reintroduced his parody comedy show "A Little Radio Show" Sondheim spoof of "Not While I'm Around" (you can see a previous performance of this also on YouTube.com). Jane Glick then brought in a glass of wine and "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear," a funny waltz uptempo comedy song. She said she'd have a show ready in February. Next, songwriter and Board member Nick Levin introduced a new song, "Sing About Love," and also introduced Ellen Bullinger to duet with him on it. You can hear Ellen's vocals on her Holiday CD "Christmastime is Here" on CDBaby.com. Nick then brought Elaine St. George (whose Ray Charles show "InspiRAYtion" has been extended at the Metropolitan Room) up to the stage, and she sang a touching rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Marya Zimmet then sang "I Remember Sky" from Evening Primrose. To close the first half of the singing, Etceterette Marnie Klar revamped "Maybe I Like It This Way," one of her best from Wild Party.

Mark Janas' Classical Corner theme this week was Chamber Music, whereby classical music is slimmed down to a small group of musicians, typically one to a part. Before recordings were available, most people were not able to listen to music unless they could travel to a big city to hear the opera, or symphony, or if they played their own music. Since Medieval times, music would be arranged so it could travel from towns or rehearsed and performed in the living rooms or chambers of homes. Entire opera pieces would be simplified down to a small group of musical instruments. Mark then introduced Ed Gilmore, an old friend of his who is a master clarinetist. Ed explained that to him, chamber music requires listening, being in tune with other musicians on their parts, and to predict each other's movements, entrances and cut offs. Preparation is key, and it requires strong communication and a musical dialogue between musicians. No musical piece can be played the same way twice. The two of them, Mark and Ed, then performed the second movement of Leonard Bernstein's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, which was dedicated originally to clarinetist David Oppenheimer and was Bernstein's first published piece, in 1942.

Mark Janas and Ed Gilmore

Ed Gilmore

For the second half, Bill Zeffiro (looking dashing in a tuxedo, by the way) returned to sing his devilish holiday tune "What The Hell, It's Christmas." He then introduced Kevin McMullan, who sang composer Jim Fradrich's "Lonely Little Dreamer Boy." Kevin will be taking a multi-month trip around the world, spreading Jim's ashes around the world, and will be bringing back his show "Twist of Fate" in April, 2011. After that touching news, Joan Jaffe sang Kander and Ebb's energetic, comedy rant "Coffee In a Cardboard Cup." Joan is the writer/director of Louisa Poster's show at Don't Tell Mama in February, and will perform her own show "by purim" of next year. Sue Matsuki then sang a wonderfully dark holiday song (a recurring theme for the evening) entitled "The Pretty Little Dolly" by Doctor Demento. This song can be purchased from Sue & Ed Clark's holiday CD on CDBaby.com. Staying on the comedic wry tone, Adam Shapiro sang "Lonely Jew on Christmas" from South Park. His absolutely-no-christmas-carols-whatsoever show "No Chestnuts" has one more performance at The Duplex - 12/30 at 7pm. Directing another singalong, composer Steve Schalchlin performed an original song inspired by flowing ice and water - while he sang the verses, he invited the audience to sing "hey-oh's" in three part harmony. Next, Richard Eisenberg brought back his sexy story-song "Ulterior Motive." To inject some more brand new composer blood into the Salon, returning Jordan Siwek played piano and sang his original piece "Shall I Compare You?" a beautiful pop song that he has been developing in Salon over a number of weeks.

We then had time for some repeats in the second half. Jane Glick returned to sing, as did Elaine St. George with "What More Can I Say" from Falsettos. Singing without a piano, Keni Fine did an a cappella version of "Hymn" from an original musical he's working on, and then Mark Levy invited everyone to join him in the last chorus of "White Christmas." Steve Herbst whistled through "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, and then Adam Shapiro sang "Ordinary Miracles." Joan Jaffe sang the funny "Istanbul, Not Constantinople," Kevin McMullan sang "Minnie the Moocher," and Steve Schalchlin performed "Coming Back" a hopeful piece inspired directly from a conversation with the mother of a soldier. Richard Eisenberg next performed his "Winter Arrives," then Bill Zeffiro returned one last time to perform his popular number, "The Final Daze." Sierra Rein completed the solo numbers of the evening with "Trouble in Tahiti." For one final encore, Mark engaged us all to sing "Auld Lang Syne."

NEXT YEAR (!!!!) Salon will return in 2011 on January 16th, on which the co-host will be the gorgeously snappy Rosemary Lohr and the theme will be "January Jazzathon." Mark also hinted at some inventive astrological-themed evenings, as well as a parody/spoof/satire evening. We'll see you all in 2011!!!

Sierra Rein (photo: Steven Herbst)

-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon
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