Tonight, November 13 at 7:00pm, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) opens a new season of its contemporary music mini-series NYFOS Next with CARLA KIHLSTEDT & FRIENDS at Mary Flagler Cary Hall in the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.
Collaborative composer, singer, and violinist Carla Kihlstedt—a veteran of folk/pop, contemporary classical, improvised and experimental music and founding member of several pioneering and iconic music projects including Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Rabbit Rabbit, and Tin Hat—hosts and curates an hour of music showcasing the work of a diverse range of mostly female artists and composers: Lisa Bielawa, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Susan Botti, Errollyn Wallen, Nicola Lefanu, Eden MacAdam-Somer, Lautaro Mantilla, Nils Frykdahl, Matthias Bossi, as well as her own intriguing works.
Several of the composers will perform their own works including Kihlstedt and her husband Matthias Bossi, who together form the duo Rabbit Rabbit, as well as fellow violinist-vocalist Eden MacAdam-Somer.
Kihlstedt returns to the NYFOS Next series following her acclaimed appearance last season on Russell Platt’s program. "Kihlstedt’s pure tone and the match of her voice with the bowing of her violin were exquisite in the Kafka-as-composer mode Lisa Bielawa created. She stretched the limit of Kihlstedt’s vocal and violin technique and Kihlstedt stepped up and vanquished the challenge, even as she celebrated it,” wrote Sherri Rase in Q on Stage. After making such an impression in the series, NYFOS Artistic Directors Steven Blier and Michael Barrett ensured her quick return.
Now in its third season, NYFOS Next spotlights today’s composers and interpreters of the modern song. In an intimate venue with a relaxed salon atmosphere, audiences enjoy an up-close encounter with the creative process, where freshly-minted songs are shared among creative companions—some for the first time. This year’s series, expanded to three evenings, will also feature the “exhilarating and “compelling” (The New York Times) works of Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, and the “expert vocal writing” (The New Yorker) of rising star Mohammed Fairouz. With an emphasis on spontaneity, novelty, and collaboration, NYFOS Next pioneers an experimental venue for song, paralleling the New York Festival of Song’s celebrated concert series in Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center.
Carla Kihlstedt talks about the program: “Eden MacAdam-Somer and Lautaro Montilla have both been students of mine in the Contemporary Improvisation Department at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Eden's roots in classical violining, folk fiddling and songwriting combine in to make a truly nuanced but visceral music all her own. Lautaro's pieces always consider not only the sounds emanating from his performers, but the staging, the psychological aspects of the performance, and the larger story that they are telling. I have included them in this program because I find the creative questions that they pose for themselves and the answers they are finding to be truly unique, engaging and inspiring.
"Errollyn Wallen and Sarah Kirkland Snider both walk between the worlds of art song and pop song, sometimes with both feet planted on one side or the other, but often holding firm to both territories. (Look up Sarah's beautiful song cycle for Shara Worden Penelope.)
"I've also included pieces by two fierce and rigorous composers, Susan Botti and Nicola Lefanu. Their artistic point of departure is more squarely in the realm of what we call contemporary classical music. They both write music that is wonderfully inventive, focused and dramatic (also check out Lefanu's The Old Woman of Beares). In keeping with our sub-theme of composer/performers, we're lucky to have Susan performing her own music.
"This program would not be complete without Lisa Bielawa's unmistakable compositional voice. Our friendship goes back many years and is loosely outlined by our tandem musical endeavors: She was the first person to write for me as a soloist, both singing and playing (check out her remarkable Kafka Songs on her CD Handful of World out on Tzadik) and in doing so expanded my own notions of what I can and can't do. On this program we present a brand new piece of hers based on a poem by Goethe.
"You may have noticed that all of these composers, save for Lautaro Montilla and Matthias Bossi, are women. As far as we have come in terms of gender equality in our culture, the world of classical presenters lags woefully behind.”