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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.

12 May 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Hitting the High Notes: An Interview with Heidi Melton

This Sunday, May 17th, the VOCE at Pace series will conclude for the 2014-15 season with soprano, Heidi Melton. Called, “the Wagnerian voice we’ve been waiting for since Flagstad and Nilsson,” the young, soprano will show off her incredible musical artistry with a solo recital on the Schimmel stage. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming recital with Melton herself.

Heidi Melton

Heidi Melton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MT: Can you describe your musical background growing up to me? How did this background lead you to your passion for classical music?

HM: I began studying piano at the age of four with my grandma, Frances. We spent every day together practicing and playing duets! I then got involved with children’s choirs and church choirs. When I was fourteen, I started taking private voice lessons with Melissa Percy Drumm. I knew the very first lesson that I wanted to sing for the rest of my life.

 

MT:  The Voce at Pace series is exciting because it’s one of the rare opportunities for New York audiences to experience rising opera stars, such as yourself, in an intimate recital setting. Can you speak about the differences in performing a recital as opposed to playing a part in a fully produced opera?

HM: oh! It’s a completely different experience. In opera, you take on the personality of someone else. You learn to walk and move differently and you use vocal colors that are appropriate to the character. I find recital to be a very personal thing. You still assume different characters for some things, but most of the time you have to rely on your own experiences and feelings rather than a libretto that has been given to you. It is incredibly intimate and very naked but I love the chance to be so close to the audience. It is a very shared experience. With opera, you are part of a story being told, with recital, you and the audience are telling the story together.  I absolutely love both and am a very lucky lady to be able to sing both opera and recital.

 

MT: How does the music in this recital program reflect on who you are as an artist right now?Do you have a favorite piece that you will be singing? Why is it your favorite?

HM: I always try to plan a recital that challenges me vocally and emotionally. This recital has so many amazing pieces and I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite. Each one is my favorite when I am singing it!! They’re all my favorite for different reasons.

 

MT: In your career so far, is there a favorite role that you have played? Why is that your favorite?

HM: I really can’t say that I have a favorite. I’ve found that each role has come to me exactly when I have needed it to and has taught me wonderful and invaluable things. I would say that I love being able to portray complex women…I don’t do the vanilla characters that well!

 MT:  During your career, you have performed on so many world renowned stages. Of those venues, do you have a favorite? Why?

HM: I don’t! I am really not good at naming favorites.  I have had some very special performances in my career and I have been insanely lucky to be able to perform where I have. The venue definitely makes the evening special, but I have found it to be more of a complete experience. When the Maestro, orchestra, colleagues, venue and production are all special, then it makes for an incredibly special night.

 

MT:  Where do you see yourself as an artist in the next ten years?

HM: I am hoping that in the next ten years, I continue to grow as a vocalist and an artist. I pray I can continue to make wonderful music with amazing colleagues at a high level. This is what I wish to see for myself.

VOCE at Pace: Heidi Melton; Sunday, May 17th at 3:00pm; all tickets $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY, 10038; (212) 346-1715; https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/937433

11 May 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Passing the Torch: Gelsey Kirkland Ballet to present “Don Quixote”

This weekend, Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Company will present “Don Quixote,” the ballet based on the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is the visionary knight who, “chases windmills and sees beauty where others only see squalor. On his chivalrous quest for love, he finds the lady of his dreams when he happens upon Kitri, the spirited daughter of the town’s innkeeper. But the peasant girl is at first too busy sparring with Basilio the barber to take any notice of the errant knight’s declarations of courtly love. As romantic misadventures ensue, dusty Spanish streets and festive visions of toreadors and gypsies provide the backdrop for this enchanting farcical balletic romp.”

Ms. Kirkland, herself, performed the role of “Kitri” in a 1978 staging of the famous ballet, originally staged by Marius Petipa. In the following teaser trailer released by the Gelsey Kirkland ballet, watch as footage of Ms. Kirkland is juxtaposed to original footage of Kirkland’s young dance company. The company’s mission is to “foster a rebirth of dramatic storytelling in ballet through programs that provide specialized training for gifted students from around the world.” You cantell from watching the young and energetic dancers that GKA accomplishes just that.

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet presents “Don Quixote”; Thursday and Friday, May 14th and 15th at 7:30pm and Saturday, May 16th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm;Ticket Prices $59 | $49 | $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715 ; https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938468

05 May 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Patti LuPone: Our Favorite Moments

Get ready to be transported to “Far Away Places,” on Saturday May 9th. That legend of the Broadway stage, the one and only, Patti LuPone is bringing back her acclaimed concert to the Schimmel Stage for one night only! Conceived and directed by Scott Wittman (lyricsit of the Tony winning hit Hairspray) and with musical arrangements by Joseph Thalken, “Far Away Places,” takes us along on a musical journey with two-time Tony award winner (Gypsy, Evita) Patti LuPone and a five-piece band. The evening has LuPone singing renditions of songs from an ecclectic list of songwriters ranging from Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim to Willie Nelson and the Bee Gees! To prepare for the big evening, please find the videos below of some of her best and most electric moments!

“Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”

Patti LuPone first rose to stardom playing Eva Peron in Andrew Llyod Webber and Tim Rice’s 1978 hit rock opera, “Evita.” Although Elaine Paige had made a splash originating the role on London’s West End a year earlier, it was Patti who originated the role for american audiences in 1979 and who made her way into our hearts with the definitive performance of, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” Patti won her first Tony Award for playing the ill-fated Argentinian first lady. Here she is in a more recent  PBS- broadcasted, concert performing the quintessential  tune.

 

“I Dreamed a Dream”

Ms. LuPone ventured cross the pond for her next notable outing. Playing everyone’s favorite put upon French prostitute with a tragic heart of gold, Patti originated, “I Dreamed a Dream” to English speaking audiences with her turn as Fantine in Les Miserables. Here she is stunning the crowd at a Royal Variety performance in 1991.

“Anything Goes”

The 1987 Theatre season saw LuPone make yet another splash when she played everyone’s favorite singer turned evangalizer, Reno Sweeny in the hit revival of Cole Porter’s 1934 musical, Anything Goes. In this show stopping rendition of the show’s title number on the 1987 Tony Awards, our favorite diva shows off both her incredible pipes as well as her dancing chops.

 

“As Long As He Needs Me”

Patti famously portrayed Nancy in the 1984 revival of Oliver! based on the Dickens’ 1837 novel Oliver Twist. Nancy’s famous ballad has quickly become one of Ms. LuPone’s most requested songs in performance.

 

“The Worst Pies in London”

Patti LuPone has notably played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd three times. The first two times came courtesy of concert presentations. The third time, Patti took to the boards of Broadway opposite Michael Cerveris as the murderous barber in an acclaimed revival directed by John Doyle. The following video comes courtesy of a concert version opposite George Hearn in the title role.

 

“We Are Women”

This is an excuse for me to post a video of two fabulous leading ladies together. Patti joined forces with everyone’s favorite comedic soprano, Kristin Chenoweth in this acclaimed concert staging of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide which was thankfully preserved in a broadcast on PBS.

 

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”

Patti tread triumphantly back to the Broadway boards in 2008 as one of musical theatre’s most venerated roles. Scoring a second Tony for her portrayal of Mamma Rose, LuPone cemented her status as musical theatre’s premiere diva with her performances of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn.” Here she performs the show’s Act 1 closer for the 2008 Tony awards.

“Ladies Who Lunch”

In 2011, Patti took on yet another famous Sondheim tuner when she took on the role of Joanne in a starry concert version of Sondheim’s 1970 smash hit Company with the New York Philharmonic and featuring the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert. Joanne may not have much stage time but she sings arguably one of the greatest songs in Sondheim’s entire canon. Below, LuPone previewed her version of the number for a special concert celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday. She did so while sharing the stage with the legendary Elaine Stritch who famously originated the song. No pressure for Patti LuPone.

Be sure to come see the reigning queen of musical comedy live on our stage on Saturday, May 9th. There’s no telling what magic will be made on our stage!

Patti LuPone: Far Away Places; Saturday, May 9th at 7:30pm; $119 | $99 | $89 | $79; Schimmel Center at Pace University, New York, NY, 10038; (212) 346-1715https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938453

15 April 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Gracias a la Vida

Violetta Parra is the legendary songwriter, folklorist and recording artist who is credited with starting Latin America’s “New Song” (Nueva Canción) movement, which renewed interest in Chilean folklore. Her most famous song was, “Gracias a la Vida,” which translates to, “thanks to life.” This Friday, April 17, the Schimmel will play host to an all-star tribute to the prolific song writer, as they say thanks for her life and legacy. The event will feature the Chilean folk and Andean musical ensemble, Illapu, the Grammy nominated, Ana Tijoux, as well as Parra’s own niece and rising songwriter, Colombina Para. The event is sure to be a must see for fans of Chilean folk music. Enjoy the clip of Illapu below and be sure to book your tickets for this one night only event!

This event is curated by Isabel Soffer/LiveSounds.org

Produced by Claudia Norman/Isabel Soffer

More information at http://schimmel.pace.edu/events/gracias-a-la-vida-the-rebel-spirit-of-chile-s-legendary-voice

Gracias a la Vida: The Rebel Spirit of Chile’s Legendary Voice featuring Illapu, Ana Tijoux and Colombina Parra; Friday, April 17 at 7:30pm; All Seats $29; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; Box office (212) 346-1715;  https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938579

 

31 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Rock & Roll Africa: Meet Tal National

Fresh off of the success of our presentation of The Nile Project with our friends from Live Sounds, our team offers another fresh talent from the continent of Africa, Tal National. Hugely popular in western Africa, this indy group feature powerful vocals combined with guitar and percussion driven grooves. The group represents the nation of Niger which is the home of the Fulani, Hausa, Songhai and Tuareg people. Their concert at the Schimmel on Thursday, April 2nd marks the group’s New York City Debut and is just one of the many stops on their US tour. The concert will also take place just 12 days before their latest album, Zoy Zoy is released on the Fat Cat record label. Below is the group’s music video of their single, Claire, available on the new album.

“What makes this band special is their full-tilt approach, and a hypnotic intensity.”  - The Guardian

Rock & Roll Africa: Tal National; Thursday, April 2nd at 7:30pm; All Seats $19; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St., New York, NY, 10038; (212) 346-1715; https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938577

This concert is part of the Global Sounds series curated by Isabel Soffer/ Livesounds.org