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The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts Blog Schimmel Center seeks to enrich and engage our audiences by bringing world-class talent to Lower Manhattan. Our programming features internationally-acclaimed talent in the areas of music, dance, film, cabaret and lecture.

05 December 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Celebrating the Art of Storytelling in Song- Inside the music of Tom Rush, Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier

American folk music is a broad term that encompasses many genres. The famous folk musician Mike Seeger once famously defined it as “all the music that fits between the cracks.” Gospel, bluegrass, Appalachian jug bands, blues and Native American music all fit within those cracks. The genres have two commonalities that tie them together; they are all uniquely American and they all rely heavily on the art of storytelling. It is that story telling that artists such as Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives and Susan Reed brought to the fore front in the great American Folk Revival of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. This weekend we are proud to have one of the greatest practitioners of American Folk music, Tom Rush, who helped shape the genre during the 1960’s along with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Judy Collins. He will be joined by new emerging artists who follow in his tradition by placing story telling at the forefront of their music; Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier.

James Taylor once said, “Tom (Rush) was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences.” It’s clear that Rush possesses many qualities that an artist like James Taylor would find inspiring; from his distinctive guitar styling to his warm, expressive voice. One would argue that the main quality that keeps audiences coming back is the wry humor and expressive story telling so distinct in his music.  The story telling is especially evident evident in his performance of “The Child’s Song,” seen below. The song so perfectly tells the story of a son leaving his family for the first time. The story not only comes out in the lyrics but in Rush’s soulful expression.

Below Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier continue the tradition of Storytelling in “The Ballad of Jenny Kane” and “Love is a Language” respectively. Each plays in their own distinctive style but they both harken back to Tom Rush’s example.

These three artists converge on the Schimmel Stage for one night only. Don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate this uniquely American art form with one of the best.

An Evening with Tom Rush and Matt Nakoa with Special Guest Seth Glier; Friday, December 9 at 7:30PM; Price $29 | $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/tom-rush

16 November 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Avoid the Mid-Town Grid Lock- Celebrating the Holidays in FiDi

The most joyous of seasons is upon us. It is that time of year when the city transforms into a magical wintery wonderland, capturing the hearts and minds of people around the world. While tourists from all over the globe descend on midtown in droves for the likes of the Rockerfeller Christmas tree, the windows at Saks 5th Avenue and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New Yorkers have other options right in Manhattan’s FiDi neighborhood. Let’s take a look at all the holiday activities taking place downtown.

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

Visit Santa

While many flock to 34th Street to visit Santa’s Village in the iconic Macy’s store, the lines can sometimes stretch on for hours. Luckily for families in FiDi, Brookfield Place has their own top-notch version of the North Pole. While you are waiting on line for your child’s opportunity to sit on the big guy’s lap, you can send up a wish through “touch-sensitive” wish lights which are a part of Brookfield Place’s “Luminaries,” exhibit. For more information click here.

The rink at Brookfield Place

The rink at Brookfield Place

Hit the Skating Rink

Ice skating is one of the most cherished of Holiday traditions. While the rinks at Rockerfeller Center and Bryant Park have made postcards for years, a new picturesque skating rink has sprung up at Brookfield Place. Located on the Hudson River waterfront, the rink is a one of a kind skating experience. The rink offers private skating lessons as well as public skating hours. For more information click here.

The Tree at South Street Seaport

The Tree at South Street Seaport

Visit the Christmas Tree at South Street Seaport

Yes, the tree at Rockerfeller is gorgeous but you can always watch it being lit on television from the comfort of your own home. There’s no real need to venture to mid-town for it. The beautiful South Street Seaport boasts a tree every year as well. Dressed up for the holidays, the seaport is a majestic coastal winter wonderland worth seeing.

Celebrate with Festive Holiday Music

This holiday season the Schimmel Center welcomes Emmy winner and Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Rob Mathes. Known for a storied career in music alongside names like Sting and Bruce Springsteen, Mathes leads an all-star band made up of musicians from Saturday Night Live, David Letterman’s Late Show, and Paul Simon’s band. Powerhouse vocalists Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Willams will sing holiday classics and new original songs with a funk, R&B and gospel twist. There is no better way to feel the holiday spirit than with the sounds of the season. Below is a clip of the classic carol, “Silent Night” performed by Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Williams in Mathes’ signature style.

The Rob Mathes Holiday Concert; Sunday, December 18 at 3:00pm; Price $29 | $39 | $55; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/rob-mathes

26 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

“I’ve got the song right here!” Inside the Music of Frank Loesser

This Saturday, October 29, the Fred Barton Orchestra and a cast of Broadway’s best will be back on the Schimmel stage to open its fifth smash season of American Showstoppers. This concert promises some of the very best of the American Musical Theatre and Songbook cannon; the work of the Academy®, Tony®, Grammy Award® and Pulitzer Prize winning composer and lyricist Frank Loesser. This musical genius’ repertoire includes the scores to Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella and the Pultizer prize winning How to Succeeed in Business Without Really Trying. His popular music also includes the piano standard, “Heart and Soul” and holiday tunes, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and “What Are You Doing New Years Eve.” Let’s take a musical journey through Frank Loesser’s greatest hits. 

“Baby It’s Cold Outside”

Perhaps the most covered of all holiday tunes, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was originally written as a private party tune for Loesser’s first wife, Lynn Garland. When the songwriter sold the song to MGM, it almost ended the couple’s marriage. Garland would later write, “I felt as betrayed as if I’d caught him in bed with another woman.” The song would be included in the Esther Williams’ vehicle, Neptune’s Daughter (1949). In recent years, the song has come under some criticism for lyrics that some determine to be misogynistic. While the song can be taken this way, the version featured in Neptune’s Daughter, features Betty Garrett singing the part that is traditionally sung by the male and Red Skelton singing the response, making the piece easier to stomach for a contemporary audience.

 

“Heart and Soul”

One of the most recognizable songs to anyone who has ever taken beginner piano lessons or knows someone who has taken beginner piano lessons, “Heart and Soul” is known mostly for its melody by Hoagy Carmichael. However, the lyrics belong to Loesser. The song was published in 1938, however, the most famous incarnation of the song belongs to the Clefftones who recorded their version in 1961. That version was later used in the 1973 hit film, American Graffiti.

 

“Luck Be a Lady”

Perhaps the biggest success of Loesser’s career was writing the music and lyrics to the Broadway classic, “Guys and Dolls.” The popular musical was based on the characters of short story writer and newspaper columnist Damon Runyon. While the score is filled with many standards, “Luck Be a Lady,” is indeed the most covered. While Marlon Brando as Skye Masterson sang the song in the 1955 film, it was the film’s other star, Frank Sinatra, who made the song a huge hit.

 

“I Believe in You”

How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying won Loesser a Pulitzer Prize. The show was a biting social commentary on the world of business. The main character, J.Pierpont Finch, works his way up the corporate ladder from the mail room to CEO of World Wide Wickets in the series of just two weeks. The show’s hit song “I Believe in You” became a standard and was covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Count Basie to Isaac Mizrahi in a Target ad. The following is the wonderful Michelle Lee in the very faithful 1967 film version.

 

“What Are You Doing New Years Eve?”

Not written for a particular movie or stage show, this holiday hit first charted at No. 9 on Billboard’s Best-Selling Retail Rhythm & Blues chart in December 1949 with the band, The Orioles. It has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Barbra Streisand to Barry Manilow. It was also featured in the hit movie When Harry Met Sally. Below is a charming duet of the song by Zoey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Their video version with banjo and guitar went viral on Youtube in 2011.

American Showstoppers: An Evening with Frank Loesser; Saturday, October 22 at 7:30pm; Price $29 | $39 | $55; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/an-evening-with-frank-loesser

11 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Ease on down to Schimmel!

Here at the Schimmel Center, we are aware that for the New Yorker that has never ventured below Houston Street or tries to avoid the financial district at all costs, the prospect of locating our theater may seem daunting. That is why we have taken some extra steps this season to make it even easier to find us amid the hustle and bustle of one of New York’s fastest evolving neighborhoods. We realize that Downtown Manhattan may not have as considerable a reputation for the performing arts as some of our surrounding neighborhoods but perhaps you didn’t know that we are located just blocks from the historic, cobblestone-clad Theatre Alley which is known as the birthplace of Performing Arts in Manhattan.

The street sign for the historic Theatre Alley in Downtown Manhattan

The street sign for the historic Theatre Alley in Downtown Manhattan

Did you realize that you can get to Downtown Manhattan in under 20 minutes from 20 major locations around the city and New Jersey? Are you visiting us from the Upper West Side? From the Columbus Circle subway stop, it takes a mere 16 minutes to reach the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub at Fulton Center. Our friends in Williamsburg Brooklyn can expect to enjoy an 18 minute jaunt to the lower edge of our borough. Those who reside in Hoboken, New Jersey can hop onto the Path train and arrive in just ten minutes. Below is a map produced by our friends at the Downtown Alliance with more stunning facts about traveling downtown.

downtown-alliance

Our website can be a wonderful tool for any visitor looking to find directions, parking or even nearby restaurants. Simply click on the Visit drop down menu at the top of our home page at SchimmelCenter.org. Whether you are traveling by bus, car or subway, our directions page has you covered. Our parking page has the top four most conveniently located parking garages in the area. Our partners page will be ever evolving offering a listing of local restaurants and businesses with exclusive deals for Schimmel Center patrons.

This season, we have amped up our signage around Pace University’s downtown campus to make it easier for everyone to spot. If you exit the 4,5,6, J or Z trains from the Brooklyn Bridge/ City Hall stop, you will be sure to notice our sign on the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row.schimmel-on-spruce

When exiting the Fulton Street subway stop at the corner of William Street, look for this sign to guide your way.

schimmel-directional

When you have reached this sign you have made it to the Schimmel.schimmel-season

When you have arrived, this handy sign may be a helpful tool when locating the box office.landing-sign

We look forward to seeing you at Schimmel Center!

05 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Onstage: Interview with Johnny Vorsteg of Taylor 2

On Friday and Saturday, October 15th and 16th, the Taylor 2 Dance Company will leap back on to the Schimmel Stage to give our audience a reminder of what makes Paul Taylor one of the most remarkable choreographers of the modern era. The performance will include three of his most prolific pieces; “Aureole,” “Dust,” and “Piazzolla Caldera.” I had the chance to interview Johnny Vorsteg, one of Taylor 2’s brightest young talents and ask him more about what makes this group so extraordinary.

Johnny Vorsteg of Taylor 2 Dance Company Photo: Whitney Browne

Johnny Vorsteg of Taylor 2 Dance Company
Photo: Whitney Browne

M: When were you first exposed to dance? When did you know you wanted to dedicate a career to it?

J: I was first exposed to dance as a musical theatre major my freshman year at NYU. Broadway was all I could see of tomorrow, but really I didn’t know much about the genre. I started training technically: singing and speech production, acting, storytelling and dance. I always knew I could carry a tune and quickly found out I was great at storytelling and awful at dance. Dance very quickly seduced me, tugging at my heartstrings more and more as time passed. It was the hardest for me but what I grew, pretty quickly, to care the most about. As invested as I became in the art, it wasn’t until after college though, after studying at the Taylor School, that I realized I wanted to pursue concert dance and shelf my broadway pursuits. 

M: When and how did you join the Taylor 2 Dance Company?

J: I auditioned 4 times for Paul. My first audition I think I was still in school, finishing up my degrees in dance and English at Montclair state University. (I transferred there after 2 years at NYU). I was still so new to dance and really knew nothing about the Taylor style. By the time the 2nd and 3rd auditions rolled around, I was already a Taylor diehard, happily putting all my eggs in the Taylor basket, taking class every day. I volunteered to help out at the studio, any way I could, for free class. I did everything from vacuuming to clerical. I loved every minute I spent at the studio and especially treasured my time watching the company rehearse. That was an education in and of itself. Paul later gifted me with a scholarship making my continued daily study there possible. 

M: Why is Paul Taylor’s choreography special to you? What separates him from other choreographers of the modern era?

J: When I did my first Taylor intensive, I remember so vividly how impossible it all felt, meeting the physical requirements and cardiovascular demands of the work: rich musicality, dynamic weight shifts, dizzying spatial patterns, a grounded athleticism that is at once fierce and graceful. I remember thinking through the burning fatigue and sweat of it all: “I could get used to this.” The work is so intensely satisfying because it is so diverse. Paul creates these entire worlds for us to live in that are as much fun to inhabit, as they are to watch. Each one like a perfect painting, spanning a huge emotional spectrum, each alive with nuance and passion and beauty and struggle. At any given moment you could feel like you’re luxuriating in a bubble bath, or a gladiator, charging into battle. As simple as a tender touch on your lover’s shoulder or as exhilarating as speedy floorwork and sailing jumps: physicalizing these extremes in the repertory is a great challenge and privilege. I think it is this inherent theatricality in the work that separates Paul from other choreographers of the modern era. 

M: Of the three pieces being performed at the Schimmel Center, is there a particular piece that resonates with you more than the others? Why is that?

J: I really do love all the pieces we’re doing at Pace! I love that each one calls for me to surrender my heart to the movement in a totally different way. Aureole is technical and classical. The Handel is unapologetically bright and happy. You feel buoyed by these sensations of space and freedom and love and light. Dust is darker, weirder. We’re in these nude unitards with blotchy spatters on them. The fragmented shapes and broken angles are thrown and tossed. The work I think celebrates the beauty of the distorted and damaged. It’s awesome and so physical. And the great Piazzola too! So much Latin heat and there’s not even a tango step in it! But it sizzles with sensuality. It’s earthy and erotic, it’s an amazing dance. Maybe this is my favorite…..but I really do love them all! 

M: Do you have an all-time favorite Paul Taylor piece? Why is that one your favorite?

 J: This is easy. I have two absolute favorite Taylor dances that are tied. Roses and Brandenburgs. Brandenburgs is one of the 7 pieces Paul has made using the music of J.S. Bach. He appears in an interview and says the dance is about gallantry. The costumes are green velvet. It is pure joy and happiness and elegance and I’m obsessed. Roses was the first bit of material I learned at my first Taylor intensive. It is probably the most romantic of all the Taylor works: all the couples stay together and nobody breaks up! I think it’s a celebration of love. It’s gorgeous and I’m equally obsessed. The men’s subtle gray tights are the perfect contrast for the women’s magnificent black gowns, stunning and flowing by William Ivey Long. The music is the sublime Siegfried Idyll. I love that Wagner gave his wife this piece of music as a birthday gift too! 

M: What advice would you give to a young dance student who dreams of being a part of a prestigious dance company one day?

J: I think throughout the phases of our training as young artists, we’re encouraged to cast a wide net. Then upon graduating school, it’s thought prudent to stay available for many projects, say yes to everyone and do everything. All that can make for rewarding experiences and valid fulfillment, but I think it’s important to bravely put your eggs into the basket of dreams. Streamlining your artistic ambitions is scary, a risk, and can feel like the point of no return. But you don’t have to see the full staircase to take the first step. 

Taylor 2 Dance Company “Aureole,” “Dust,” & “Piazzolla Caldera”; Saturday, October 15th at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 16th at 2:00pm; Price $29; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/taylor-2-dance-company