Lincoln Center’s American Songbook presents Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer

by Steven Pisano

Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Lincon Center's American Songbook

(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

Lincoln Center's American Songbook presents performers from different genres whose songs embody the series credo: "Outstanding voices. Essential stories. Enchanted evenings." On Thursday, the country music stars and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer (Lynne is a middle name turned surname) performed in the Appel Room, one of the city's most dramatic venues looking out a wall of windows over Central Park and the twinkling traffic of Central Park South.

Lynne and Moorer's current tour is in support of their 2017 album together, Not Dark Yet, featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, the Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, and Merle Haggard, among others. Although both have recorded individually for more than 20 years, this is Lynne and Moorer's first recording together. In a way, it is a reunion because Lynne has lived most of her life in California, and Moorer has lived here in Manhattan. Moorer claimed that she was the "practical one," always halting her drinking at three beers, while Lynne claimed in response that she had never stopped drinking at three beers in her life.

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Snarky Puppy and David Crosby Play Carnegie Hall

by Nick Stubblefield

Snarky_blog

It seems unconventional for the Brooklyn-based jazz collective Snarky Puppy to play at Carnegie Hall, but Snarky Puppy isn’t a conventional band. When I walked into Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium last week, an usher handed me a tie-dyed bandana embroidered with “The 60s: The Years that Changed America.” The night’s program was part of a concert series this year throughout New York that honors social justice and protest in America. With their history of frequent collaborations with artists from many musical and ethnic backgrounds, Snarky Puppy were the perfect hosts for an evening celebrating protest, peace, and unity.


Michael League, Snarky’s bandleader, chief composer, and bassist, stood front and center. The band, consisting of drums, a smorgasbord of auxiliary percussion, keyboards, guitar, and horns, managed to comfortably fill a stage mostly known for accommodating concert orchestras. The group’s musical style proudly defies classification. There were elements of bebop, Latin-American styles, and African-American gospel in the music, but Snarky’s purposeful blurring of musical boundaries is largely what defines the group’s sound. As the stylings and textures ebbed and flowed throughout their all-instrumental mini-set, there were ever-shifting variations in timbre that kept the music engaging. Multi-instrumentalist Justin Stanton alternated between a trumpet and a vintage Fender Rhodes, shredding equally skilled bebop-inspired jazz improvisations on each.

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Prototype Festival: The Echo Drift at Baruch Performing Arts Center

Prototype Festival  The Echo Drift Jan 19  2018 at 9-22 PMUnfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see most of this year's PROTOTYPE Festival of new opera, now in it's 6th year, but I did make it out to the Baruch Performing Arts Center last night for the world premiere of Mikael Karlsson's startling one-act The Echo DriftSet in a prison in a dystopian future, it centers around a female prisoner (Blythe Gaissert) serving a life sentence in solitary confinement. She is visited there by a talking moth (John Kelly), who offers her a Faustian escape by abandoning her connection to time and space. 

For a world premiere opera, The Echo Drift had a remarkably polished feel: from the industrial stage design (Elle Kunnos de Vos, who also wrote the libretto), to the Tron grid-like light projections (Simon Harding), to the always excellent International Contemporary Ensemble, which dispatched Karlsson's electro-acoustic score with total command. But, it was Gaissert who ran away with the show, with a fierce, defiant performance that grabbed my attention all the way in the back row. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her on NY stages in the months and years to come. 

If you haven't seen it, The Echo Drift has one final performance tonight at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Tickets and info available on the Prototype website; info about other shows here

More pics on the photo page


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with Daniele Gatti at Carnegie Hall

    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  Carnegie Hall - Feast of Music Jan 17  2018 at 11-005

“Music remains for me not sacred, but a spiritual moment. I’m devoted to God because I think I was gifted by him, and I know that my mission during my years here on this earth is just to try and develop the gift that I received.” - RCO Chief Conductor Daniele Gatti, NY Times, 2016

By most estimates one of the best orchestras in the world (if not the best), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has always impressed during their visits to the Big Apple. But, as great as this orchestra has been for most of its 130 year existence, the addition of the formidable maestro Daniele Gatti last season as Chief Conductor seemed to raise the artistic bar even higher, as evidenced by their two concerts at Carnegie Hall this week.

These were Gatti's first local appearances with the RCO, but he is no stranger to New York concertgoers, having led the Vienna Phil in a series of memorable concerts in 2015, as well as the Met's extraordinary new Parsifal in 2013, which returns next month. As with that six hour opera, Gatti conducted everything on these concerts from memory, revealing a near-insane level of preparation that is said to extend beyond mere score analysis to poring over biographies, historical essays, even related novels and plays that the composer may have read.

“What is important is to try and be in the head of the composer,” Gatti told the NY Times in 2016. “If I’m seeing the world through different eyes, I can see also the score with new eyes.”

This deep level of familiarity allows Gatti to take the music to unexpected places. In the Act 3 Prelude and "Good Friday Music" from Parsifal, Gatti drew the tempi way out to highlight the majestic consonances of Wagner's music in the tender strings and burnished brass. It was clear from the outset that Gatti had gone over every square inch of the score - each note, every marking - and had successfully  gotten the RCO players to buy into his vision.

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