Friday, July 27, 2012

Being A Part Of It All

Unfortunately, it's been a pretty chaotic month, and my schedule was not going to permit me to see very many of the NYMF shows this year (I'm thinking that might need to reworked in the future... I might be in search of contributors/interns in the near future, and if you think you might be interested, drop me a line). So, rather than having to choose from all the great full productions, many of which participated in the 5-question interview series, I decided that I would see the up-and-coming composer concerts to start scoping out the talented that will undoubtedly be making appearances on this blog and perhaps even in the festival in the future.

Up first was Cutting Edge Composers, an event whose first 2 incantations have featured the music of writers like Joe Iconis, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk, Tysen and Miller, RSO, and so many more familiar faces. On Monday night, there were also a lot of familiar names: Joey Contreras, Anna Dagmar, Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal, Kevin Fogarty, Drew Fornarola, Drew Gasparini, Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, Peter Lerman, Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell, Virginia Pike, Will Reynolds, Zoe Sarnak, Ben Velez, Michael Patrick Walker, and Zack Zadek. You can read up on all their bios here.

The evening was quite a lot of fun, and there was no shortage of talent in the performers whose credits were all impressive and often Broadway-full. It was very exciting to see an audience so enraptured by new work, and it was also great to hear a little from the writers themselves about the context of their songs and how they got started. Everyone's work was solid, but here were a few highlights of the evening for me (videos aren't up of the concert, but I'll add a video to some rendition or other where I can):
  • Drew Gasparini wrote a new song specifically for this concert titled "The Whistler," which really showed off some beautiful male harmonies in a haunting tune about miners.
  • Zack Zadek's tune "Just Me" was a nonstop delight when sung by the infectious Emma Hunton near the end of the evening. The song is the closing number from his show 6, which also received a concert performance as a part of NYMF.
  • Will Reyonold's "I Knew a Boy" was a deceptively simple tune that was so precise with its language that it was hard not to relate to this song about a relationship, once good, gone bad. 
  • Last but certainly not least, Anna Dagmar's song "We Were Children" was the song of the night for me. Again with a memorable performance by Emma Hunton, this gorgeous song is from the songwriter's latest musical about a child soldier in Africa.

This week, I also had the privilege of seeing the 10:00pm show of Part Of It All, a concert of work from up-and-coming college-aged composers who had their music performed by college-aged actors. It was wonderful to get such an early glimpse into these writers' works, and it was clear that there was a ton of potential in the room. A lot of the songs, understandably, reflected early 20-something sentiments and ambitions, and I would be very interested to see how their music evolves over time and changes within the context of their full shows. The writers who presented their works at my show were Berkley Todd, Landon Braverman, Alexander Sage Oyen, Patrick Sulken, and Alex Ratner, but you can find a full list of the participants here (there was a different group of writers and performers for the earlier 7:00 show).

As a closing note, can I also just point out what a perfect host Drew Gasparini was for a college audience? Poop jokes, sarcasm, self-deprication, and a final performance that made everyone in the room swoon? Like taking candy from a baby.

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