“CLASSICALLY EXPOSED”: SEUNGHEE LEE, MANHATTAN CHAMBER PLAYERS with SPECIAL GUEST, JP JOFRE

On March 27, 7:30pm, at The Cell Theatre, The Manhattan Chamber Players and Seunghee Lee (Sunny) will be presenting a sampling of a number of the masterworks written for clarinet by Mozart, Brahms, and Weber. The first half of the program will feature the first movement of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, a movement from Brahms Clarinet Quintet and the the last movement of the virtuosic Weber Clarinet Quintet.

The second half of the program will feature tango music, including the works of Piazzolla and JP Jofre. JP and Sunny will perform JP’s Double Concerto, a work that was  written for clarinet and bandoneon and demonstrates the evolution of clarinet music and the instrument’s versatility. The Double Concerto was premiered last  year by JP and Sunny during Sunny’s Carnegie Hall recital.  

For tickets, which are $20, and additional info click here

The cell is located at 338 West 23rd St in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. 

 

NICOLE ZURAITIS at LEHMAN COLLEGE, MARCH 14, 12:30PM

Grammy® Nominated New York based musician Nicole Zuraitis blends clever songwriting skills, an effervescent presence and dazzling vocals in a consummate package that has thrilled audiences across Manhattan and across the world. If you happened upon Greenwich Village’s 55 Bar recently and were enchanted by the seismic versatile talent of inspired vocalist, keyboard player and songwriter Nicole Zuraitis, you’re officially part of the lady-powerhouse burgeoning fan club.You can hear the Nicole Zuraitis Quartet at Lehman College, in the Lovinger Theatre, on March 14, 12:30pm…and it’s a free event sponsored by Lehman’s “City and Humanities Program” and Professor Joseph McElligott.

 

OPENING NIGHT: “CLASSICALLY EXPOSED: FROM CARNEGIE HALL TO THE CELL”

Thank for this wonderful review and write up by Vincent Nauheimer:

“Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell”

Last night, 23rdStreet in the Chelsea section of Manhattan was filled with magical sounds emanating from the Cell Theater…a preview of Charles R. Hale Productions and Musica Solis’ “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to the Cell.”  If last night was a glimpse of what is to come in this seven-event series, which will explore classical music and its relation to pop, jazz, and other musical genre, one word comes to mind for the rest of the season: Anticipation.  

Nicole Zuraitis, Mitch Lyon, Seunghee Lee, Brandon Ilaw, Clare Maloney and Ken Kubota

Charles R. Hale and Seunghee Lee (Sunny) have a common interest, which was clearly established last evening: They both seek to promote young and upcoming musical artists. Their unique ability to both find and attract superb talent was clearly demonstrated in this preview of their 2019 series.  

CLICK HERE FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL EVENT.  

Charles R. Hale

Renato Diz/piano and Yuri Juarez/guitar performed the evening’s opening set. Renato, who has performed throughout the world and who be can be heard on over twenty albums and Yuri, who has recorded a number of albums, and has received the  Latin Jazz Corner Award for album of the year, “Afroperuano” were sensational. Watching the finger work of these two enormously talented musicians was special. Their performance included “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Joaquin Rodrigo and “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla, which they arranged with improvisational references to jazz and other musical genres. Brilliant.

Renato Diz and Yuri Juarez

Sunny, a renowned international solo clarinetist and recording artist, led the trio Empire Wild in  “Another Day of Sun” from the movie LaLa Land. The superb performance highlighted the fact that what would normally be considered a classical ensemble—two cellos, a clarinet and piano—is equally at home performing pop tunes. Empire Wild, which consists of cellists Mitch Lyon and Ken Kubota and the multi-instrumentalist Brandon Ilaw captivated the audience with their virtuosity. Ken played his cello in ways that would have made Casals proud. He played it across his lap like a guitar, plucked the strings and played it with a bow. Mitch Lyon has an affinity for folk music and arranged a beautiful piece with Brandon and Ken’s accompaniment. The versatile Brandon sang a number of tunes, played the piano, cajon, and kept time with a band of bells around his ankle. The three Julliard graduates performed brilliantly and have bright futures. 

Brandon Ilaw, Mitch Lyon and Ken Kubota

Capping off a mesmerizing evening with a grand performance were Clare Maloney and Nicole Zuraitis, who will, from my point of view, be forever known as the “Cell Sopranos.” Both Clare and Nicole were classically trained and have branched out to become versatile performers. Nicole, nominated for a Grammy in 2019, is a singer songwriter and Clare has been hailed by audiences around the world for her magnificent voice and range. Clare led off with the flirtatious “Musetta’s Waltz” (Quando m’en vo) from Puccini’s La Boheme.  Each lady in turn sang a popular song with its roots in opera and then Nicole did a solo rendition of “O Solo Mio.” The evening ended with a stirring performance of the “Flower Duet” from Delibe’s opera Lakme. Dame Joan Sutherland would have enjoyed listening to these two women sing.

Clare Maloney and Nicole Zuraitis

It was a beautiful evening of musical entertainment made more memorable by the interactions of the artists with the audience. The “cell” is a cozy intimate theatre, where there is little space between the artist and the audience  Does that work? It certainly does. The audience came to their feet several times during the performances. In addition, spontaneous applause broke out in the middle of a number of the instrumental solos. 

Anticipation for the future shows in this series was palpable and I, and I’m sure the entire audience, anxiously await the next performance.  Thank you to Charles, Sunny Lee and all of lasts night’s performers for a memorable evening.  

CLICK HERE FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL EVENT.  

All photos by Vera Maura. 

“CLASSICALLY EXPOSED: FROM CARNEGIE HALL TO THE CELL” FRIDAY, FEB 22

Please join us at the cell theatre on Friday, February 22nd, 7:30pm when clarinetist and international recording artist Seunghee Lee (Sunny) and I will be showcasing a number of fabulous artists in a preview of our upcoming 2019 concert series “Classically Exposed: From Carnegie Hall to The Cell.”( The doors and bar open at 6:45.)  

During the evening you will be able to sample the music of four of the upcoming shows and mingle with the performers after the event. This is a free event but you must reserve seats by contacting me at info@charlesrhaleproductions.com 

Tickets for each 2019 show are $20. A subscription for all seven shows is $100, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, considering the talent we’ve assembled, is a great bargain. (Ticket and subscription sales will begin shortly.) We will also be looking for people who would like to become executive producers or co-producers of the series or perhaps produce one of the shows. Our goal is simple: To present outstanding music at a great value and pay the artists commensurate with their talents. 

Program for February 22nd:

  • Grammy nominated Nicole Zuraitis and Clare Maloney will perform works from their show, “From Opera to Pop” 
  • Yuri Juarez and Renato Diz will perform works from their show, “From Classical to Jazz”
  • Empire Wild (2 cellos & percussion) will perform a sampling of cover songs, which they will be featuring in their show. (All of these artists mentioned in this post have appeared in my shows before except Empire Wild.  This phenomenal trio of Juilliard graduates teamed up in 2018 after discovering a shared interest in musical styles.  They bring their virtuosic technique to far reaching genres.)
  • Seunghee (Sunny) will perform a few works with Empire Wild, as well as music she will be playing with the Manhattan Chamber Players during her show. 

 

Reserve your seats now. I hope to see you there.

Charles R. Hale

 

THE EXPRESSIVENESS OF SILENCE

Recently, a few friends and I gathered in a local pub when the subject turned to “silence and space” in art. When one of my friends mentioned that he once heard Pete Seeger say, “It’s not what you put into a song, it’s what you leave out that counts,” the music of jazz great Miles Davis came to mind. When I began listening to Miles I was struck by his ability to do more with silence and empty space than any musician I had ever heard. Miles didn’t fill every second with sound. He understood the power of silence. Listen to “It Never Entered My Mind.”

Great artists have the ability to create with less, allowing us our own space to develop our own story: Francisco Goya, in his Tauromaquia series used blank canvas and shadings of grey and white to create the feeling of space. In this sketch, Goya uses empty space to dramatize the fury of a singular moment of horror during a bullfight.

Johan Sebastian Bach understood the power of silence and space as well. During Bach’s B Minor Mass, at the end of the section marked Crucifixus (Crucification), the music slowly sinks into silence, followed by a pause—a moment of contemplation, a moment of space—and then, an explosion of joy and revelation in the Et resurrext. (The Resurrection)

A year ago I received a note from a friend. “Would you read a story I wrote? Something’s missing. I’m looking for a word or words that will give the last few paragraphs more impact, more oopmh. Nothing seems to work.”  I read her story and while I claim no great editorial skills, I felt the character development was wonderful, the story had great pace, from the inciting incident, which created conflict, through the midsection’s rising tension, right up until the crisis point or conflict resolution. The ending was perfect. I sent my friend a note. “I could see your character in the last scene and I understood his problem. I knew his motivations and I was there with him. You didn’t have to tell me the character was desperate or frantic, you’d done all the heavy lifting earlier. Your shorter words and shorter sentences built a moment of high drama. Your writing shows great respect for your reader; you allow them the space to be creative; you allow them the space to furnish the emotion. Less is more. In my view, that’s what often makes for great storytelling.”

The power of space and silence were never more evident to me than when I spoke before a gathering of college students and their families a number of years ago. The subject was the value of family stories. I was undecided about including the story of my mother’s sister’s death, a baby who died seven hours after she was born, until the moment I began speaking. I feared that I’d have difficultly controlling my emotions, yet, within a few minutes—I don’t know why—I started telling the story.

As I feared, her death and burial, and the emotions that the story evoked in me, were still too raw. I bowed my head and my eyes filled with tears; I had no idea how I would go on. Finally, I looked up. I was astonished. The entire front row was crying. I regained my composure. I was able to finish my story.

The events of the day became clear to me later in the evening. During the story’s build-up a number of listeners were probably experiencing a bond with my grandmother, grandfather or me. They were sharing a powerful story and many may have assumed the role of one of the characters in the story. Other listeners may have experienced the same wound and so they filtered my story of the baby’s death through their past. When I paused, the listeners may have been provided the space in which they could explore their thoughts, furnish their own emotions, and develop their own stories.

Miles Davis once said, “‘It’s not about the space you play, but the space you leave.” Allowing for space and silence may be one of the keys to effective creative expression, not only for the artist, but the artist’s audience as well.

I LOVE NEW YORK…AND MY TALENTED FRIENDS

A few months ago a friend of mine asked, “If you could live or retire anywhere in the world where would it be?” My response was immediate…I spread my arms and said, “I”m there.”

I know New York City is not for everyone, but for me, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Last night’s event– my friend Serena Jost’s performance at Pangea on the Lower East Side–served to confirm what I already know. This is home.

I walked into Pangea and noticed a few friends, including Marty Plevel, a great patron of the arts and Theresa Sareo, an enormously talented singer/songwriter, sitting at a table. I joined them for some chat and good times and then we settled into Serena’s performance. 

Thursday night I’ll be at the Irish Arts Center for the book launch of “The Writing Irish of New York” and Saturday evening I’ll be at the American Irish Historical society for a live production of James Joyce’s “The Dead.” 

I am a very fortunate man.  

Theresa Sareo, Serena Jost and Marty Plevel

 

COMING SOON: “JAZZ IN THE CITY II”

Over the past thirty months, the David Raleigh Quartet, including Tony Carfora/sax, Daniel Glass/drums and Danny Weller/bass or Evan Gregor/bass and I have taken our audience on a journey…a musical journey, incorporating story and song.  The show features the stories and songs of the artists and composers who for the past one-hundred years have paid homage to city they call home. Many of their songs were popularized in New York’s venues like the Village Vanguard where Miles, Mingus and Monk performed and venues that are long gone, such as Cafe Society where Billy Holiday debuted “Strange Fruit.” And then there are the stories and songs that I associate with New York through ancestral, familial and personal recollections.

We are now working on an all new Jazz in the City, which will feature great jazz standards, some well-known, others equally great but not as popular. Once again, we’ll be blending the music with New York themed stories.

Certain songs jump out at me for personal reasons and are contenders for inclusion in the new show. One of them is “You’ve Changed” a 1941 tune written by Bill Carey and Carl Fischer. Click here to hear what I consider the quintessential recording of this tune:  Eva Cassidy  “You’ve Changed”

More details to come in the following weeks. 

 

NICOLE ZURAITIS: “GENERATIONS OF HER: WOMEN SONGWRITERS”

Nicole Zuraitis and her quartet…                                                                                                                                                            . 

Including Ingbar Paz, Hugh Stuckey, Colleen Clark, and Jordan Pettay, with special guest Dan Pugach, during a brilliant presentation of Nicole’s show, “Generations of Her: Women Songwriters and Lyricists of the Past 100 Years.”

Photos by Mitch Traphagen.

Nicole Zuraitis 

Collen Clark

                                                              Inbar Paz

Hugh Stuckey

Jordan Pettay 

Dan Pugach

Nicole Zuraitis Quartet performing live at the cell theatre, New York City, August 14, 2018. A Charles R. Hale Production

Nicole Zuraitis Quartet performing live at the cell theatre, New York City, August 14, 2018. A Charles R. Hale Production

                                                        The Cell Theatre

Hugh Stuckey, Nicole Zuraitis, Jordan Pettay, Charles R. Hale and Ingbar Paz and Colleen Clark.