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Song of the Day: February 5

SusanBottiThis week our SoTD curator is composer Susan Botti who will host and curate the second installment of NYFOS Next 2016 on Febuary 11th alongside fellow Manhattan School of Music faculty member, Richard Danielpour. Botti is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize. Orchestral commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing her own vocal works, she specializes in the vocal performance of contemporary music by a diverse range of composers. Thank you, Susan!

Down to the wire… my last song…Oh no… what about…???

Stevie Wonder, Hugo Wolf, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Oumou Sangare, The Beatles, Tracy Chapman, Bacharach/David, Bolcom, Mancini, Sondheim, Weill, Caccini, Britten…???!!!

Well, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so let’s make this a theme-based choice. How about 2 songs that savour the anticipation of a kiss…

Ellington’s sophisticated musically and lyrically, sinuous and chromatic…

Prelude to a Kiss (Duke Ellington/Irving Gordon/Irving Mills) –
with fabulous melodies and lyrics “a Schubert tune with a Gershwin touch”. Here, sung by the great Sarah Vaughan:

And…

Purcell’s Pandora’s box of a kiss –temperature imagery in the words (cool, freeze, fire) and tempos(!) in the music tell the story…

Sweeter than Roses (Henry Purcell) (1695)

(here, sung by the virtuosic David Daniels)

———–

And here’s a snowy Valentine to NYC – and the (first?!) blizzard of 2016… exquisite words by e.e. Cummings (from his play HIM) – thanks again, NYFOS!:

Song of the Day: February 4

SusanBottiThis week our SoTD curator is composer Susan Botti who will host and curate the second installment of NYFOS Next 2016 on Febuary 11th alongside fellow Manhattan School of Music faculty member, Richard Danielpour. Botti is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize. Orchestral commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing her own vocal works, she specializes in the vocal performance of contemporary music by a diverse range of composers. Thank you, Susan!

Wa-Lie-oh (Meredith Monk)

Meredith Monk is a vocal spiritual guide for me. Her music and her singing are so natural and free – her compositions are “one” with her voice and body. I particularly love her Songs from the Hill, songs without words (mostly) that communicate beyond words. The sound of the voice is connected to the melodic and rhythmic elements of the compositions. There’s something timeless about her and her wonderful music.

Song of the Day: February 3

Les Roses d’Ispahan (Gabriel Fauré/Leconte de Lisle) (1884)

The vast array of amazing art songs could fill years of “songs-of-the day”… the French chansons have a special place in my heart. In particular, j’adore the music of Gabriel Fauré. It is sumptuous but transparent at the same time – the harmonic change in the “B” section (“O Leila…”) gets me every time… harmony completely “one” with melody and lyric. There’s a formality in the poetry and the music at the core of the song, but it is wrapped in fragrance and a subtle sensuous exoticism – the air is scented with its perfume…

Elly Ameling

Song of the Day: February 2

SusanBottiThis week our SoTD curator is composer Susan Botti who will host and curate the second installment of NYFOS Next 2016 on Febuary 11th alongside fellow Manhattan School of Music faculty member, Richard Danielpour. Botti is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize. Orchestral commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing her own vocal works, she specializes in the vocal performance of contemporary music by a diverse range of composers. Thank you, Susan!

Calling You by Bob Telson (Baghdad Cafe) (1987)

This song has an essential-ness about it. Nothing extraneous. It sounds of the desert, and the wind. It haunted me after I saw it in Baghdad Cafe (as sung by Jevetta Steele)… and then surprisingly, I heard Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing it as an encore in a (beautiful) recital, and the song became even more resonant to me. A great song transports the singer and the listener. Lorraine was and is a great inspiration to me. I treasure the memory of her singing this song that night, and am so grateful it was captured.

Here is the original version from Baghdad Cafe sung by Jevetta Steele:

Here’s some more Bob Telson…
One of my favorite singing experiences was being a part of the Gospel Choir at Berklee College of Music. I was in awe of the soloists and the way they embodied the music. Musical structures connect with message and words, and become a point of departure for improvisation and virtuosic vocal expression. It was a thrill to just ride the musical waves in the supporting ensemble. The Gospel at Colonus (which I saw at BAM’s Next Wave Festival) added the dimension of Greek theater to the mix – soul-stirring…

from The Gospel at Colonus – Bob Telson/Lee Breuer (1985):
How Shall I see you Through My Tears?
(sung by Jevetta Steele)

Stop, Do Not Go On (The Blind Boys of Alabama)

Song of the Day: February 1


SusanBottiThis week our SoTD curator is composer Susan Botti who will host and curate the second installment of NYFOS Next 2016 on Febuary 11th alongside fellow Manhattan School of Music faculty member, Richard Danielpour. Botti is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize. Orchestral commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing her own vocal works, she specializes in the vocal performance of contemporary music by a diverse range of composers. 
Thank you, Susan!

Thank you to NY Festival of Song for NYFOS Next and your dedication to today’s composers. My mind has been reeling trying to decide which Songs will be my Songs-of-the-Day. Just five – difficult to choose, but here goes… I will be traversing different styles throughout the week, but I think I must start with….

Cheek to Cheek – Irving Berlin (1935)
There’s no one like Irving Berlin at crafting the perfect song – the naturalness of the motives and melody and the way both are interlaced seamlessly with the lyric. Sentiment and expression are lifted from speech to song. Beginning in a semi-spoken, “heaven”, this seed of a motive/lyric blossoms joyfully. There’s that subtly syncopated hook “out together…”, the catalogue of things “I’d like to…” do that don’t compare to (you know what), the exuberant “Dance with me” section… it’s just perfect. It’s rapturous and intimate and, (as all great songs do) it expresses our human experience in words and music. Of course, it is perfectly sung by Fred Astaire with voice and body. Glorious.

And since you can’t love just one Irving Berlin song, here’s another of my favorites:

Let’s Face the Music and Dance – Irving Berlin (1936)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtZrXzoaJvc

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