Broadway actor/singer from Teaneck revisits Bernstein connection
Broadway actor and singer David Cryer, a resident of Teaneck, had the
opportunity to work with the prominent composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein
on more than one occasion, developing a special connection with him. When he was
a senior at DePauw University in Indiana, Cryer traveled East to look at
graduate schools and, he recalls, “the first Broadway play I saw was West
Side Story” with music composed by Bernstein. His reaction: “I was in shock
and awe, and I believe nothing I’ve seen since has been better.”
Upon graduation from DePauw in 1958, Cryer accepted a Rockefeller Fellowship
to study for the ministry at Yale Divinity School. He also applied to Harvard
Law School and was enrolled in the fall of 1959. But while performing as Curly
in a summer production of Oklahoma at the Polka Dot Playhouse in Bridgeport, CT,
he decided to go into the theater instead. He enrolled at Boston University and
earned an MFA in directing in 1961. He rekindled his connection with Bernstein
in 1963 when he played the role of Tony in West Side Story in a touring
production opposite operatic singer and actress Anna Maria Alberghetti. “Oh my
stars!” says Cryer, “For me, it doesn’t get any better.”
The intersection of environmental awareness, poetry and music
the canon of American literature, there are certain writers who seem to be
magnets for composers of choral music. In this regard the names Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Robert Frost readily come to mind.
The pictorial nature of some of Frost’s poetry attracted several composers to
set his words to evocative miniatures, such as Frostiana by Randall
Thompson. On the other hand, Walt Whitman, with his grand command of the epic
and his individual sense of Americana, inspired composers to set monumental
works using texts drawn from his works.
In our day and age we have a writer from Kentucky who has also inspired
a substantial number of reputable composers to set his words to music. That
writer is Wendell Berry, recipient of the National Humanities Medal bestowed by
President Obama in 2011, and best known for his gently lyrical works celebrating
nature, as well as provocative manifestos decrying the abuse of the earth. His
book The Unsettling of America (1977) is regarded as a classic of
American letters, and the essays contained within prompted many at the time to
regard him as both esteemed writer and prophet. Both of these estimations have
been a draw for composers such as Dave Brubeck, Libby Larsen, Olli Kortekangas,
Gwyneth Walker and several others.
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- Read the New York Times obituary of Joseph Flummerfelt, who died last week at the age of 82. (2019-3-6)
- The GMChorale, a 90-voice choir based in Middletown, CT, has announced the appointment of Melissa Rooklidge as Assistant Conductor and Director of Operations, the first person to fill these newly-created roles. For more details, visit www.gmchorale.org. (2019-2-28)
- Ember has moved its Tuesday-evening rehearsal location to the Opera America building, 330 7th Avenue (2-1/2 blocks south of Penn Station) effective as of March 5. As Ember draws its membership from New York and New Jersey, the new location, near Penn Station, was selected for its accessibility to singers from both states. For more details, see Ember's audition ad on the Choir Auditions page. (2019-2-26)
- Interkultur's American International Choral Festival runs February 14-18, 2019 in Princeton, NJ. For details, visit www.interkultur.com/events/2019/princeton/. (2018-12-30)
- Florilegium Chamber Choir has appointed James Knox Sutterfield as its music director, the fourth in its forty-three year history. (2018-12-20)
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- Need some exquisite beaded jewelry to complement your concert
attire? Or perhaps a distinctive gift for that special singer in your
life? Or maybe you'd like to host a jewelry show to benefit your
favorite non-profit organization? Try Carnelian
Knoll, where you'll find necklaces, bracelets and earrings of
vintage beads and silver handcrafted by Julie Siegmund.
- Looking for rehearsal space or performance venues? Try NYC
Music Spaces, part of Fractured Atlas's SpaceFinder NYC database of available rehearsal
and performance spaces for instrumental and vocal musicians. You'll find
places to rent, from studios to large venues, for classical, jazz,
rock--whatever you need to rehearse or perform in NYC.
- Looking for an outstanding vocal ensemble coach? Mark
Johnson, possessor of an amazing ear and terrific
interpretive insights in a variety of styles, is available to coach your
group. Contact Mark via e-mail.
- Liz Fleischer's Sight-Singing Program is offered each season
at the Kaufman Center (129
West 67th Street). Classes include ear-training, rhythm and pitch
reading, music theory, basic notation and terminology, with emphasis
on learning to hold a part with confidence. For more info, visit www.kaufman-center.org/lucyadults_mus_sight.htm,
or call (212) 501-3362. The sight-singing program is just one of the
classes offered by the Kaufman Center's Lucy
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