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"This festival was
founded partly because
Mr. Blier and Mr. Barrett
feared for the heritage
of the song recital.
They have succeeded
beyond all expectations

because they know
how to program familiar
repertory in contexts that
make us hear it freshly"
—The New York Times


Our Story

New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is....
A beautiful, entertaining and utterly original concert series

In 1988, Manhattan-based pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier presented the very first concert season of New York Festival of Song, a series of intimate, original ensemble song programs consisting almost exclusively of rarely-heard songs of all kinds, "from Debussy to doo-wop, lieder to latin jazz, Josquin to just-written." Each show was unified by a theme, constructed with a dramatic arc, and cast with superb vocal artists whose committed performances brought the songs to vivid life, with the directors as accompanists and animated narrators. This same dynamic model for seeking out unusual songs and sharing them audiences continues to shape NYFOS's concerts today, in ways that continue to delight and surprise listeners. NYFOS's motto since that first season has been "No song is safe from us!"  Newsday has called NYFOS "the most reliably excellent musical organization in New York." Read more reviews >

steven and michael

The NYFOS concert series began at the 90-seat Renee Weiler Auditorium at Greenwich House in New York City's West Village. NYFOS incorporated in 1989, and within several years the series audience grew, requiring larger venues. NYFOS's NYC concert series have since been presented at The 92nd St Y, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, The Walter Reade Theater and Alice Tully Hall, both Lincoln Center venues, and at its current home, Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center. The company has also toured extensively across the country and abroad and may be heard on tour in the current season in several East Coast venues. 

A learning experience for audiences and singers

In every NYFOS program, the songs and their interpreters bring poetry, passion, history and humor to the proceedings, transporting listeners to many regions of the globe, and into the personal, creative worlds of song composers and lyricists. With its exquisitely crafted and carefully researched programs, charming and informal on-stage narration, and extensive program notes, NYFOS provides its subscription audiences – ranging in age from 14 to 104 – a lifetime learning experience in the most fascinating and forgotten corners of the song repertoire. NYFOS also nurtures the artistry and careers of young singers in training residencies and performances with The Juilliard School, Caramoor Center for the Arts, San Francisco Opera, and the International Vocals Arts Institute.

A home for American song

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song, featuring many premieres and commissions of new American works. NYFOS's latest venture in American songwriting is NYFOS Next, a miniseries of free concerts featuring a new generation of song composers and interpreters sharing newly composed songs in an intimate setting.

Worlds of song on recording, broadcast, video and more

NYFOS's discography now includes five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and most recently, two one-act operas, Bastianello (Musto/Campbell) & Lucrezia (Bolcom/Campbell) on Bridge Records. In 2011, NYFOS launched a 13-segment radio show produced by WFMT, No Song Is Safe From Us! with Frederica von Stade as host. Videos supplementing the radio show programs and depicting the behind-the-scenes work of creating NYFOS concerts are available to view on our YouTube channel.