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New York Exotic | Walter Hall, Toronto
Music inspired by, and often written in, New York, and particularly at the time of the brief stay of Britten and Pears in Brooklyn, 1940-1941

date: October 21, 2007

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears were two of the occupants of 7 Middagh Street, Brooklyn, New York in 1940 and 1941.  Other inhabitants included W.H.Auden, Carson McCullers, George Davis, Chester Kallman, Gypsy Rose Lee, Paul and Jane Bowles, Golo Mann, etc. etc.  The artistic output in those few months was lively and varied  –  including the completion of several of Britten’s earliest masterpieces (Les Illuminations, Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, other songs and folksong settings) as well as Paul Bunyan, the initially unsuccessful operetta he and Auden wrote together.  We included examples of all of these, together with songs by American composers.  At the centre was an authentic performance by a gamelan quartet: Britten was introduced to Balinese music by the Canadian, Colin McPhee, who frequently visited Middagh St., and aspects of this style became increasingly important in the Englishman’s music.  The concert ended with our own commission (2002) from John Greer, his Liebesleid-Lieder, which highlight the verses of Dorothy Parker, whose wit epitomises New York at its most mordant and paranoid.  Much useful background information was gleaned from Sherill Tippins’s February House.

Song Artist Composer Poet
Song Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Copland, Aaron cummings, e.e.
Les Ecrevisses (La Valse grégorienne) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Thompson, Virgil Hugnet, Georges
Grenadine (La Valse grégorienne) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Thompson, Virgil Hugnet, Georges
La Rosée (La Valse grégorienne) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Thompson, Virgil Hugnet, Georges
La Wagon immobile (La Valse grégorienne) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Thompson, Virgil Hugnet, Georges
April Fool Baby Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen, piano Bowles, Paul Stein, Gertrude
Funeral Blues (Cabaret Songs) Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh
Friendship (Dubarry was a Lady) Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Pedrotti, baritone; Ralls, Stephen, piano Porter, Cole Porter, Cole
Villes (Les Illuminations, Op.18) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Rimbaud, Arthur
A little closer, please (Love’s Old Sweet Song) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Bowles, Paul Saroyan, William
Bewitched (Pal Joey) Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Rodgers, Richard Hart, Lorenz
Zip (Pal Joey) Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Rodgers, Richard Hart, Lorenz
Sonetto XXX, Op.22/3 (Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Michelangelo Buonarotti
Farther from the heart Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Bowles, Paul Bowles, Jane
Lonesome Man (Blue Mountain Ballads) Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen, piano Bowles, Paul Williams, Tennessee
Cradle Song Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin MacNeice, Louis
A Quiet Girl Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ralls, Stephen, piano Blitzstein, Marc Blitzstein, Marc
Overture: Paul Bunyan, Op.17 Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin n/a
INTERMISSION
Sekar Sungsang (Hanging Lily) Seka Rat Nadi (gamelan ensemble): Carnes, John; Kippen, Jim; Sanger, Annette; Wong, Albert anon. n/a
As one who strives to create beauty (Death in Venice, Op.88) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Piper, Myfanwy
The trees they grow so high Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Somerset folksong, arr. Britten, Benjamin anon.
Dink’s Song Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano American folksong, arr. Britten, Benjamin anon.
Life and Love: Waltz (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
Miss Twye: Ragtime (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Ewart, Gavin
A Lady with Technique & Frustrated Male: Foxtrot and Charleston (Liebesleid-Lieder) Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Mearns, William Hughes
Monogamy: Pavane (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
The Good Girl: Minuet (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
The Garter: Schottische (Liebesleid-Lieder) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John anon.
Chastity: Tango (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Prior, Matthew
To the Moon: Bolero (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John anon.
The Sex Situation: Polonaise (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
Anecdote: Gavotte (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
Unfortunate Coincidence: Rumba (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
Superfluous Advice: Can-Can (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
Superfluous Response: Tarantella (Liebesleid-Lieder) Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John anon.
A Very Short Song: Sarabande (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John Parker, Dorothy
The Dance of Love and Romance: Ländler (Liebesleid-Lieder) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Greer, John anon.
Look at the moon! It’s turning blue (Paul Bunyan, Op.17) –   ENCORE Whicher, Monica, soprano; Turnbull, Elizabeth, mezzo; Ainsworth, Colin, tenor; Pedrotti, Mark, baritone; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh