Sunday, November 11, 2012

Political Cabaret - Hard Right

Should I create a Hard Right Cabaret, using the unedited words of  Republican politicians ?
Check out my latest Youtube video and vote!

Cabaret seems to be on the upswing here in NYC. So what is cabaret exactly? Here's a Wikopedia definition:

Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring music, comedy, song, dance, recitation or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue (also called a cabaret), such as in a restaurant, pub or nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience usually sits at tables, often dining or drinking. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies or emcee (MC). The entertainment is often (but not always) oriented towards adult audiences.
Cabaret also sometimes refers to a Mediterranean-style brothel – a bar with tables and women who mingle with and entertain the clientele. Traditionally these establishments can also feature some form of stage entertainment, often singers and dancers or burlesque entertainers.

I will add to this that the Cabaret that existed in Berlin in the 1920's was quite political.

Vote - it's your right

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Paranormal Miracle

Rescheduled "PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES" Monday, November 5 at 8 PM
Christ and Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church
120 West 69th Street
Between Broadway & Columbus Avenues

It appeared that Hurricane Sandy had assassinated my new Satyrical Suite for Chamber Orchestra,
Hard Right. With movements titled Hymn to Hypocrisy, Waltzing Mitt-ilda, Trickle down Tango and Tea Party Trot, was the cancellation of Monday's Premiere at the DiMenna Centre due to bad Republican Karma?

But now, Paranormal Activities, the Halloween concert of The Pit Stop Players, has - rather appropriately - risen from the dead. Thanks to Josh Rosenblum. You are all invited.

Addendum: add to my previous blog concerning New York Cabaret spots
The Cornelia Street Cafe
54 Below

Hope to see you at the show!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hard Right at New York's DiMenna Center

Is it possible to be inspired by evil? Of course it is? Would Shostakovich have been Shostakovich without Stalin? Would Benjamin Britten have written his War Requiem without war? Would Tchikovsky have written Swan Lake without an evil sorcerer? And now it's my turn for inspiration from the dark side., i. e. the U.S. Republican Party.

Hard Right, my satyrical suite for chamber orchestra, was written in record time (for me). It will be premiered by Joshua Rosenblum and the Pit Stop Players, a wonderful collection of musicians from Broadway's pit orchestras, at The DiMenna Center in NYC on this Monday, Oct. 29 at 7:30

This is a Halloween Concert, and the scariest thing I could think of was the Republican Party.

The movements are:

  1. Circus March (Stump speech)
  2. Hymn to Hypocrisy
  3. Waltzing Mitt-ilda
  4. Trickle Down Tango
  5. Tea party Trot and Gallop
This suite may form the nucleus of a political cabaret, also to be called Hard Right, or, if the Republicans win, The Resistance. I figure the satire that the Republicans spout can be used verbatim as my text.
Last week's Time Out New York had a great article on the Renaissance of Cabaret in NYC. Here are some of the venues they mention:
  • Joe's Pub
  • Birdland
  • Ars Nova
  • Le Poisson Rouge
  • Therapy
  • XL
  • Flute
  • Cutting Room
  • Beechman
  • The Met Room
  • Don't Tell Mama
  • Triad
As well, last week there was a Cabaret Convention at the Rose Theater.

Comments are welcome, even from Republicans.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Distinguished Concerts International New York

So you want to debut in New York City? No problem. Just hand over $8-10,000 and Distinguished Concerts International arrange a concert at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall. They will provide publicity - to a degree - and find an audience for you - to a degree.

That's the way it is in NYC. For a price, you can do anything, even arrange a "vanity" concert.
Don't count on that audience to be buying tickets though (yes, DCINY lets you keep ticket revenue).
There are various organizations here that will paper your house. Try Audience Extras, for example And don't count on a revue either - the critics at the NY Times have a multitude of other performances to choose from.

Some years ago, I put in my time on a symphony orchestra negotiating team. Symphony musicians mostly see themselves as charity cases - to a degree. Board members never tire of telling them this. So orchestra musicians are inclined to give in to cries of penury. Problem is - it's a race to the bottom. 

And where is the bottom? It has been reached here in New York by DCINY. They don't pay you to play - you pay them. It happens all over this city. Witness the numerous small opera companies supposedly coaching up and coming singers. In reality, the singers are paying to sing and are themselves supporting the opera company.

For a composer like myself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Not having a lot of $$$, I nevertheless can hope to hire performers. But for the performer, it is hell itself. Dante's Inferno for musicians. 
Is that what the DI in DCINY stands for?


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dog Days

Finally, a good composer. Last Saturday I saw Dog Days by composer David T. Little at Montclair State University in New Jersey. This was part of their series called Peak Performances, concentrating on new opera. How did I get there, living in Manhattan and not owning a car? Answer: the Series provided a bus, leaving from the 42nd St. Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. Impressive! Round trip for just $15 and only 30 minutes.

A very impressive production. For one thing, the performers interacted (at times) with images on an overhead screen. For another, the music was very well written and very well played, this in spite of the composer, David T. Little, advertising himself as a drummer in a Rock Band. Sure, sure! And a degree from Princeton?

I did't hear much related to rock music, mostly tonal music with dissonance and electronic effects added when it seemed appropriate to the text.  Nice contrasts, nice changes of pace. One quibble; absolutely everything was amplified, including the singers. Why? I am suspicious that the composer wrote a score, as good as it was, that drowned out the singers, and so they needed amplification. It made the voices seem to come from somewhere else than their throats - namely from the speakers. It also created an emotional distance between the singers and the audience. Another quibble: the text was for me altogether too earnest and too depressing. The kind of subject matter that attracts grants but not audiences? I mean - a family gradually starving to death and eventually eating the family dog, who just happens to be a human being who thinks he is a dog.

Just in case a reader of this blog has an opera to flog:
Dog Days was produced by Peak Performances in association with Beth Morrison Projects


Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Score to Settle

Check out A Score to Settle, a concert / monologue with harpist Rita Costanzi.

Voice Afire heartily approves. Rita has done it the right way, i.e. with professional theater people, director Arthur Masella and writer Kico Gonzalez-Risso.


November 8, 2012
The Actors' Guild, NYC
November 15, 2012
Boston Conservatory
November 18, 2012
The Arts and Letters Club, Toronto


Monday, July 23, 2012

New York Musical Theatre Festival

Last week here in New York I had the good fortune to attend Requiem for a Lost Girl, a musical theatre piece with music by my friend Marcel Bergmann. Last January Marcel and I collaborated with Marcel's partner Elizabeth and visual artist Ronald Hurwitz on a production of my own multi-media piece The Art of Love for 2 pianos and actor at Merkin Hall. Requiem was a part of the
2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
So what was Requiem for a Lost Girl - originally produced in Calgary - about? A publicity blurb: "Exploring themes of of poverty, mental illness and addiction, this strikingly original chamber musical unfolds as a memorial service for a young woman. Requiem was created and is performed in partnership with a chorus of men, women and children who know the experience of homelessness..."

On the face of it, not too promising? Too depressing? Wrong! I was entertained and enthralled for 90 + minutes, not least by Marcel's music (He also served as conductor and keyboard player at the NY performance). A few particulars I would like to single out:

  • Marcel suited his music to the material. Sometimes gritty, sometimes poignant, sometimes rhythmic and driving, it always had a certain disciplined simplicity. 
  • There were 2 keyboards used in the chamber ensemble, a grand piano and a synthesizer. Marcel exploited the possibilities of this combination.
  • There was a choir, used at just the right moments.
So how does one get a production into the Festival and what does the Festival do for the production?
  • One submits a score and $75 and hopes for the best. There are many submissions.
  • The Festival "smooths out the bumps" of producing in NYC but doesn't actually financially support its productions.
Here are some useful links:
Give it a try. Do let me know if this blog has been useful.