Monday, August 31, 2015

The Salon Wrap-Up for August 30, 2015 - “The Many Sides of Lennie (meaning Bernstein, but any Lennie will do)”

August 30, 2015
Theme: “The Many Sides of Lennie (meaning Bernstein, but any Lennie will do)”

Mark Janas, the protege of Leonard Bernstein himself (or Himself), is proud of the yearly Salon tradition of making the last Sunday Salon of the Summer a tribute to "Lennie," as he would call him. Last night was yet another fantastic run of amazing Bernstein pieces, sung lovingly by his fans. And since the evening was to celebrate the many sides of Lennie, any Leonard or Lennie (Bruce, anyone?) was on Theme. Tanya reminded us that there was "no sitting on the piano (looks at piano) unless you're a book about Leonard Bernstein," and we did had to wait until the middle of the evening to hear a few of Mark's "Lennie stories."

What we didn't have to wait for was our glorious Co-Host (ok, I'm biased, she worked with me for years, but countless awards and adulation agree with me...)...Julie Reyburn! Julie is a 4 time MAC, 2 time Bistro award winner and is the first ever Nightlife Award recipient for Outstanding Female Vocalist (2003), and again in 2005 and 2009 as a finalist.  She has Co-Hosted this night three years in a row! She sang to the rafters with "Tonight" from West Side Story first, welcoming us enthusiastically to a night of Lennies, jazzy chords, and good spirits. She also introduced her assistant - her 10 year old daughter, Layla, who expertly pirouetted and jete'd up to the stage between singers to deliver the singer-cards to Julie. Layla was also on hand to introduce a few singers on the mic, and I'll tell you, she has better diction than many Co-Hosts I've seen!

"Ugly Ducking" by Frank Loesser was Julie's opening second-act set number, a hilarious quack-filled comedy song with wonderful hints of classical music sprinkled throughout.  Mark interjected a story at this point, about going to a party with Lennie and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute and taking a picture with Sylvia Kaye and Leonard Bernstein, as Danny was drunk and nowhere to be found.  Julie then hit more high notes singing "A Boy Like That" from West Side Story, duetting with Tanya Moberly in the role of Anita. The emotions and strident argument between these fiery women was palpable!!! Julie next sang the beautiful reverie "There is a Garden" from Trouble in Tahiti, a role I would love to see come to stage one day. Mixed in with the discordant music was a lullaby melody, and Julie's wonderful interpretation was magical.  To round out the show, at the end of the night she sang the hauntingly bittersweet "Some Other Time" from On The Town, with harmonious help from Adam Shapiro, Janice Hall, and Paul Kolecki.

Julie has a show on September 14th at The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St., NYC, 7:00 pm (I already have reservations).  Stephen Hanks' Cabaret Life Productions is revamping some of "New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits" from the past, and he is producing (along with Fr. Jeffrey Hamblin) Julie's show "Fate is Kind," which debuted in 2000 and can also be found in CD form. Mark Janas, Julie's "musical husband," who has worked with her for 17 years, will be on hand as Musical Director, and Layla will herself have a featured moment in it.

Quick Wrap: Classical Corner

Mark Janas brought in a song composed by Leonard Bernstein on a Walt Whitman poem entitled "To what you said," from a 1976 bicentennial song cycle entitled Songfest. Mark remembers being at one of the premieres of this song cycle, which was performed around the country. Originally written for six singers and full orchestra, it was re-orchestrated for piano and cello, with a few more bass cello notes added.  On hand for this Classical Corner was his cellist friend and young Musical/Artistic Director, Ben Larsen.  Ben and Mark had added some bass cello notes to the transcription of this orchestrated piece for an enhanced sound. Zach Wobesmith provided the solo voice of the song, and the "Short-Notice Singers" Sierra Rein, Janice Hall, Julie Reyburn, and Paul Kolecki jumped in that night to sing backup vocals. You can read more about the rest of the piece here.

This Walt Whitman poem was written around 1871 and remained unpublished for years. It was a very personal statement from Whitman, in that it hints to being a "coming out" poem, and was edited many times to soften some of the more angry or hurt (ie, much more personal) vocabulary to something more gentle. Mark muses that in using this poem, it was Leonard Bernstein's private statement regarding his own balance as a closeted celebrity in the 1970s. After all, his peers and friends cautioned him to get married quickly to dispel rumors, and even though Lennie loved his wife and children, the true nature of his sexuality was never made fully public.

This piece is gorgeous because it has a running middle C that pulses its way throughout the number, often clashing in discord with other notes and phrases. From the introductory fanfare, the minor chord floats through a major dissipation. The effect is that of a sadness, an underpinning of something that cannot be said. The cello has a haunting melody, mirrored up the octave by humming voices towards the second half, but the solo lyrics dance around this theme with its own melody, sometimes picking up the cello's melody but often rejecting it and going about on its own path. It has the same beautiful melody repeated twice, then adds the solo voice to express the poetic counterpoint thoughts of the singer.  Zach spoke the lyrics first, and then we heard the cellist/backup vocalists on their own, and then we heard the whole thing - all of Leonard and Walt's elements - put together in a beautiful piece.

By the way, Ben Larsen runs a wonderful FREE chamber music concert series in Brooklyn at Saint John's Church once a month entitled "Concerts On the Slope." Please check out the website! The next performance is Sunday, September 13th, 2015 at 3 PM, featuring Sara Heaton, Soprano and Akiko Sasaki, Piano and consisting of a variety of works by Japanese composers, as well as Strauss, Britten and Villa-Lobos.

Roster of singers for the evening (in order of appearance):
Click link to visit the performer’s website, when available.
All piano accompaniment by Mark Janas unless otherwise noted.

Julie Reyburn
Paul Kolecki
Anna Marie Sell
Barb Malley
Edie Stokes
Jim Speake
Janice Hall
Mick Bleyer
Richard Eisenberg
Josephine Sanger (with John Cook on piano)
Ira Lee Collings (with John Cook on piano)
Annie Lebeaux
Steve Bustamante (self on guitar)
Sierra Rein (with Steve Bustamante on guitar)
Zach Wobensmith
Ben Larsen and Zach Wobensmith, with the Short-Notice Singers
Tanya Moberly
Mark Watson
Adam Shapiro
Bill Zeffiro (self on piano)
Stefan Szkafarowsky

Special thanks to tonight’s pianists and guitarists: Mark Janas, Annie Lebeaux, John Cook, Ben Larsen and Steve Bustamante.

And thank you to Gill Alexandre on lights and sound, our amazing waitstaff who always handle the demands of a full house with grace and style, and Steve Bustamante who is providing video footage for people interested in that service!

Upcoming shows:

Ongoing: Matthew Martin Ward plays on Mondays at the West End Lounge, 955 West End Ave, NYC.

Ongoing: Bill Zeffiro can be seen every Wednesday (8-12) at La Rivista, 313 W 46th St, NYC.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 (6:30pm) - Sarah Rice and Tanya Moberly are appearing in Concerts for City Greens at Tudor City.

Sunday, September 6, 2015 (6:00pm) - Marquee Five (with Sierra Rein and Mick Bleyer) will be featured at Birdland Jazz Party with Carole Bufford at The Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West, 44th Street, NYC.

Saturday, September 12, 2015 (4:00pm) - Sarah Rice, Adam Shapiro and Janice Hall are appearing in a tribute to Madeline Kahn as part of the "Gone Too Soon" series at The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St., NYC.

Monday, September 14, 2015 (7:00pm) - Julie Reyburn in "Fate is Kind" at The Metropolitan Room,  34 West 22nd St., NYC.

Sunday, September 20, 2015 (6:30pm) - Edie Stokes in "Love is in the Air" at Don't Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC.

Thursday, September 24, 2015 (7:00pm) - "Somewhere in this Song", The music and lyrics of Nicholas Levin at The Metropolitan Room 34 West 22nd St., NYC. Starring Mick Bleyer, Kristin Maloney, Marissa Mulder, and Adam B. Shapiro. Musical Director: Matthew Martin Ward Director: Peter Napolitano.

Sunday, September 27, 2015 (4:30pm) - Barb Malley is appearing in "Eat! Drink! Be Merry!" (with Bob Diamond as guest vocalist) at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC. Ask for Salon discount, o comp for second-timers.

October 2015 - Annie Lebeaux is music directing “Heather Smiley for President” for Theater for the New City, NYC.

Thursday, October 15, 2015 (9:30pm) - Bill Zeffiro and Marissa Mulder perform a duet show at The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St., NYC.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - Stefan Szkafarowsky will sing the role of Monterone in "Rigoletto" at the Metropolitan Opera, running 10 performances thru December.

Friday, October 23, 2015 (7pm) - Tanya Moberly in “Songs I Feel Like Singing” (with a rotation of musicians - this date has Mark Janas) at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC.

Friday, November 6, 2015 (7pm) - Tanya Moberly in “Songs I Feel Like Singing” (with a rotation of musicians - this date has Sean Harkness) at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC.

Friday, November 13, 2015 (9:30pm) - Tanya Moberly in “Songs I Feel Like Singing” (with a rotation of musicians - this date has Ritt Henn) at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC.

Wednesday, November 18 - January 3, 2015 - Zach Wobensmith is appearing as The Father in “Billy Elliot” at the Media Theatre in PA. 

Friday, November 20, 2015 (9:30pm) - Tanya Moberly in “Songs I Feel Like Singing” (with a rotation of musicians - this date has Steven Ray Watkins) at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, NYC.

Next Week’s Salon - NO SALON- Come back September 20th!

Reminder that there will be NO SALON on September 6th and September 13! The next Salon will be on September 20th with the theme "Celebrating The York Theatre’s 100 Musicals In Mufti," with our Co-Hosts Jim Morgan and The York Theatre Singers.

Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
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