It’s up to you, New York, New York!

It’s hard to believe that we open our New York concerts in under two weeks! I am filled with so much excitement – what was merely a vision is actually being brought to life.

One of the main facets of my vision for Patchwork Project was finding a musical home, not just for me, but for our collaborators and our audiences. It is not by accident that we are performing all American music. These concerts are a celebration of our heritage and a statement about the possibilities that lie ahead for our great country, no matter how dismal and disheartening the current state of affairs may seem.

For this reason it is very meaningful to me that we would begin our tour in my home, New York State. Anything and everything that I believe about music was born out of New York being my home – from the proximity to the Metropolitan Opera to the proximity to many of the composers whose music we will be singing. What we can offer in return is to give back to a place by which we have been given so much. Our first concert in New York will be at Andrus on Hudson, a nursing home in my hometown of Hastings. Andrus has always been very nurturing of local artists and it is special to be able to bring what we have there for the residents. It is my way of saying thank you to Hastings for always supporting my musical development. Would that the worldwide musical home that I find as my career furthers be as lovely as the one I came from in Hastings.

After our concert in Hastings we head to the Big Apple to perform at the National Opera Center, a place that for many a young singer often seems like a daunting representation of auditions and competitions. Back when we were Eastman students, Kendra and I used to take many a weekend trip down to NYC for 2-3 Young Artist auditions at a time. These trips punctuated our musical lives and forced us to put our Eastman education to work. These trips were yet another example of us searching for our musical home. On our Monday night performance in Marc A. Scorca Hall we are looking to take a step away from all that. We will be premiering a beautiful piece written for us by Pamela Stein Lynde, a fellow graduate of Westminster Choir College and ALSO a former student of my beloved teacher, Sharon Sweet. There is something so invigorating about singing Pamela’s piece, which allows us to create something entirely new and invite our audience to expand their perception of classical vocal music. We have the opportunity to share everything we have developed over the years, from school to professional life. We hope to transform the room from a place where singers and musicians are constantly asking for permission (whether it be acceptance to a program or being hired by a major opera company) to a place where we celebrate our home – American singers, American composers, and a New York recital hall.

As these concerts approach I am also filled with so much gratitude for all the people who share in our excitement, whether this be through a donation, buying a ticket to one of our concerts, or e-mails of encouragement and support. This, our Patchwork Project, has already become bigger than us. It’s about you. We are finally ready to share the meat of the project – the music! New Yorkers, join us, and hopefully you, too, can find a new expressive home right along with us.

Concerts are:

Saturday July 23 at 3 PM

Andrus on Hudson, 185 Old Broadway, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

$10 Suggested Donation

 

Monday July 25 at 7:30 PM

Marc A. Scorca Hall

The National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Ave (7th floor), New York, NY 10001

$15 Tickets, purchased atĀ http://patchworknyc.brownpapertickets.com

 

 

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Patchwork Project, in my own words – Will’s edition

When I think about what inspires me to make music, a few things come to mind. I think about all of the beautiful music out there waiting to be explored. I think about the legacy of all of the musicians who have come before me and the dialogue that exists between us, whether this be composers or the musicians who bring their works to life. Inherent in this is so much craft. Part of this involves tradition. For centuries musicians have written treatises describing the rights and the wrongs of their art. We have settled on the correct ways for music to be interpreted. We have celebrated the bel canto technique, which prescribes vocal non-negotiables. And, we have also acknowledged the place of artists who break the rules, for without them, change and growth would not be possible.

For me, this whole project is about putting craft into practice. When I was at Eastman studying with the late Rita Shane, I was often told “there are many ways people do sing, but there’s only one right way and this is it.” From age 18, the importance of understanding the legacy of all of the greats was instilled in me. Listening to greats like Richard Tucker and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was not only meant as a source of enjoyment, but also to understand everything the music I had only begun working on could become. In the same way that singers of the past launched everything they were taught in conjunction with everything they felt into their musical lives, I am looking to make my musical home.

The idea that keeps coming back to me is that there is a need in this world for diversified art. There is not enough room for us all to do the same thing, but there is so much room for creative process. When Maria Callas sang Vissi d’arte, the last thing on her mind was copying what came before her. The way she felt the Italian language and communicated the deepest truths about Floria Tosca were based on her elevated understanding of life and her devotion to a tradition of singing that seemed to be forgotten. When I think of all the great American music out there, I can’t help but wonder, “why not?!”

We have so many wonderful regional opera companies, but the song recital is not ubiquitous in the United States in the same way. Let’s cross over into new territory. Let’s build new appreciation. Let’s listen to music in new settings and with different audiences. It is through this newness that we participate in the tradition of celebrating music in our civilization. We can find pride in the relevance of music in our native tongue. And, we can lessen the gap between the fanciest classical performances and people like you and me, who just want to have a good time.

I am so excited to share all of this with you this summer. For me, this project is about the art being as important as the artists and the artists being as important as the audiences. This, our “Patchwork Project,” seeks to thread together craft and musical works with new audiences, new cities, and new friends.

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