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