This song has long been a favorite of mine. It comes from a made for TV film called Evening Primrose which is in no way Stephen Sondheim’s finest, but this song is a gem. For me, it was an incredibly important song in my development as a singer because it taught me how to develop the arc of a song. The melody and harmonies have a definite melancholy quality, and it was so easy to simply delve into that feeling; to allow myself to get swept up by the sadness of a young girl who had lived indoors for so long that she couldn’t even remember what the sky looked like. But then during a performance at the Manhattan School of Music Prep Division, for no reason in particular, I decided to begin the song differently—as if I didn’t know where the song was going nor how sad the whole thing actually was. In this way I learned to let the song lead me and I was suddenly in the moment, discovering the song as it progressed. By the time I reached what is arguably the climax of the song, where the young girl sings “I remember days” as if she hadn’t actually thought about what a day—waking with the sun and letting the darkness curl you back into sleep—actually was. Only in this moment did I finally let the audience see how sad the whole situation was, and it was all the more powerful because it had developed organically.
Sondheim: I Remember Sky
author: Rebecca Jo Loeb
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Based in Germany, American mezzo-soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb sings regularly with Deutsche Oper Berlin and across Europe. In addition to her operatic repertoire, Becca Jo specializes in the music of Kurt Weill. Becca Jo returns to NYFOS’s Mainstage in 2017 in Picnic Cantata / Dinner at Eight.
This is simply a beautiful, clear, ungussied and altogether moving version of Sondheim’s startling song, with unexpected cadences and sprung rhythm reminding me of the ecstatic joy and profound sorrow of living.