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Migrations: The Making of America is Carnegie Hall’s citywide festival that links the history of America to the large-scale movements of people who helped build this country. With events starting in New York on February 28, and events at Carnegie Hall starting March 9, Migrations encompases dance, music, storytelling, exhibitions, and events at more than 75 cultural and academic institutions across New York City and beyond through May 2019.
At Carnegie Hall, festival concerts will examine the musical legacies of three migrations: the crossings from Scotland and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries; the immigration of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe between 1881 and the National Origins Act of 1924; and the Great Migration—the exodus of African Americans from the South to the industrialized cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1917 into the 1970s. Migrations concerts by leading artists at Carnegie Hall include performances of bluegrass, old-time, klezmer, Yiddish musical theater, the Great American Songbook, blues, jazz, and more.
To learn more, go to: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Migrations: The Making of AmericaFebruary 28 - May, 2019
The downtown supper club Pangea (178 2nd Ave., NY, NY) will be holding its second annual Winter Alt-Fest this January 4 to 9. Covering music, comedy, theatre, dance, and more, the festival takes the night club style performance and elevates it to new heights.
Performers include Zachary Clause who reprises his “Hey Girl!” a musical paean to women. Raquel Cion’s cabaret tribute to David Bowie: “Me and Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie.” Improvisational singer-satirist David Nagler (with special guests Tammy Faye Starlite and Xavier) performing original and topical songs. Downtown legend Flotilla DeBarge talks trash in “Under Destruction!” And folk-rock Vicki Kristina Barcelona (consisting of Rachelle Garniez, Amanda Homi, and Terry Radigan) covers the songs of Tom Waits with their own three-part harmonies to give it a unique twist.
To learn more, go to: https://www.pangeanyc.com
Pangea 2nd Annual Winter Alt-FestJanuary 4 - 9, 2019
Pangea178 2nd Ave.New York, NY 10003
To celebrate the American premiere on October 19th at the Metropolitan Opera of Nico Muhly’s adaptation of the classic Winston Graham novel, Marnie, the Film Society of Lincoln Center—on the evening of Thursday, September 21st—screened Alfred Hitchcock’s astonishing film version of the same work, at the Walter Reade Theater, preceded by a panel discussion with the opera’s director, Michael Mayer, and its librettist, Nicholas Wright, moderated by the company’s dramaturge, Paul Cremo.
Mayer explained the genesis of the opera lay in his re-seeing the film on television, which prompted him to read the novel, after which he proposed the idea of commissioning an adaptation to the company’s director, Peter Gelb, with the suggestion that Muhly compose the score—a few years before he had composed a previous commission, the excellent and acclaimed Two Boys. With Muhly’s acceptance, Wright—who had coincidentally just read the novel himself— was approached to write the libretto as was the superb and gorgeous mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who agreed to play the lead. Wright commented on how the Metropolitan Opera has a superb chorus whose potentialities it would have been foolish not to exploit, thus allowing him to communicate crucial elements of the story with resources unavailable either to film or to narrative prose. Mayer added that the opera is narratively closer to the novel, if visually closer to the movie.
Mayer and Wright both see Hitchcock’s version as flawed if powerful but auteurists have long recognized this as the director’s final masterwork and it was glorious to have an opportunity to revisit it on the large screen in a 35mm print. One hopes that Muhly’s eagerly anticipated adaptation will contribute to the movie’s growing esteem.
Kehr as Billy Joel
Multi-talented musician Donnie Kehr has not only created and promoted “Rockers on Broadway” but has been a rocker on Broadway when he appeared in such musicals as “Billy Elliot,” The Who’s “Tommy,” Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida,” “The Human Comedy” and most notably “Jersey Boys.”
He also was in the first, La Jolla, California, production of the jukebox musical about Frankie Valle and The Four Seasons under Des McAnuff’s direction where he originated the Gyp DeCarlo role. Kehr was then tasked with bringing Norman Waxman to life in the original Broadway production. He then appeared as Waxman in director Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, cinematic version of the show.
But when the song-and-dance man lost his ability to strenuously jump and jive thanks to a fairly recent injury, he had to come up with another reason to be at center stage. So he’s now developed “The Greatest Piano Men,” a celebration of music men and their keyboards. “I grew up on the Broadway stage; I’m self taught on piano and have been playing close to four decades so I wanted to create a celebration of every piano man from Beethoven, Ray Charles, Scott Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Billy Joel who have inspired me and continue to do so.”
In what inevitably has become a more and more elaborate production — “you’ll not only hear great music but you’ll also learn a lot of history about the instrument and the musicians associated with it” — the show had to be as captivating as possible. So in adding various elements that would make it both be dramatic and educational, Kehr enlisted a few music industry super-veterans. “I spoke to [super manager] Steve Leber, telling him about the idea. Without a moment’s hesitation he signed on.” So co-producing the show with Kehr is the legendary Leber, who then brought in concert-promoter impresario John Scher in association with Live Nation.
With this team on board, the stage could then include three different pianos and an eight-piece band. Kehr’s “The Greatest Piano Men” swings into action with three high-profile premiere concerts which have been set for this month, the first on Wednesday, August 15 at NJPAC; Thursday, August 16 at the Capitol Theatre; and, Friday, August 17 at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury. In order to reach audiences, piano prodigies will be interviewed in advance of each show and there will be a series of radio-giveaways to fans a chance to jump on board early on.
Added the 50-something producer/creator, “A lot of the audience may not be as well-versed in piano history, but I’ve incorporated it into this brief lesson about the instrument’s enduring power. Nonetheless, this show is still a 90 minute rock ‘n roll celebration from start to finish.”
As a kid, Kehr was dancing and singing, doing Broadway before he could drive but he’s no stranger to rock and roll as well, having been in band with his brothers in ‘80s called Urgent. “Since I was 11, I was playing music; I learned four different instruments because my brothers are musicians, so I’d always watch them. By the time I was 21, we created a band, and were on EMI Manhattan Records. We actually had two videos out, and got to number 56 on the top Billboard in 1984. It was a song called ‘Running Back for More.’ We did pretty well.”
The slick-pated performer had already established his live show production career in 1993 by putting on the annual charity concert, “Rockers on Broadway” (initially with Pete Townsend) where Great White Way performers get to rock-out. Shows have included or paid tribute to such performers as Debbie Gibson, Monkee Micky Dolenz, radio-personality Bruce Morrow, Rupert Holmes, Paul Williams and Frankie Valli and many others.
And his roots to this current show also lie in a performing act he fronted, Donnie Kehr’s Rockin’ Dueling Pianos, which had been staged in Las Vegas at The Paris. “I actually debuted Dueling Pianos there in 2004. I love Vegas and the variety of acts they have are top-shelf. I got to return to Vegas with Jersey Boys which was perfect way to start a New Year back then.”
Well, based on the initial expectations and with such a substantial track record, “The Greatest Piano Men” looks to be on the scene for quite a while. “So what about ‘The Greatest Piano Women’ as well?” Upon being prompted by this question, Kehr replied chuckling, “Let me get this first production out there and then we’ll see — anything’s possible!”
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