Backstage at San Francisco Opera > March 2014 > In the Memory Palace --- Schwabacher Debut Recitals
In the Memory Palace --- Schwabacher Debut Recitals
Always an exciting recital, New York Festival of Song's Steven Blier presents In the Memory Palace this Sunday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El’s Martin Meyer Sanctuary. A part of the Schwabacher Debut Recitals, Blier will be joined on stage by current Adler Fellows soprano Maria Valdes, mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde, tenor A.J. Glueckert and baritone Hadleigh Adams. We asked Steven to share some thoughts on the program and what exactly is a Memory Palace.   

We've been having a great experience this week working on In the Memory Palace. The program has so many distinctive styles (and languages--four at last count, including Portuguese and Danish), and the cast has embraced the challenges like a team of champions.

Taking a break from rehearsals, Adlers A.J. Glueckert, Hadleigh Adams,
Maria Valdez, Zanda Švēde with Steven Blier

The concert has an unusual form: four short song cycles linked by quartets, some of them a cappella. Each group of songs evokes a time and place and sensibility, each needs a distinctive vocal style and physical stance. A Brazilian girl, an English swain, a Norwegian lass, and a young guy from Brooklyn sing differently, stand differently, confide in the audience differently. Swinging into all of the styles has been part of the week's creative joy. Art song, musical theater, and the blues comfortably rub shoulders. The climax of the program is Gabriel Kahane's The Memory Palace, which gave us the title for the concert. How to describe his music? Well, if Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Herbie Hancock, Gabriel Fauré, and Robert Schumann collaborated on a song cycle, it might sound something like The Memory Palace. Gabe's musical culture is deep and wide--he's the son of pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane. He brings an extraordinary level of subtlety and literacy to the sounds of contemporary song. It's groovy, haunting, quirky, and gorgeous. I'm eager to share his music with the San Francisco public.
The cast has been doing startlingly good work, baring their musical souls and digging deep for the meaning and truth of their songs. I've been blown away by their group numbers, especially the two unaccompanied pieces. A cappella never had it so good: world-class voices joined together in the most intimate communion. We previewed the concert last night at an open rehearsal and I felt the thrill go through the room. Don't miss this one. It's full of surprises and full of beauty.

To learn more about the New York Festival of Song, visit
Posted: 3/28/2014 9:50:41 AM by Steven Blier
Filed under: Adler, SchwabacherDebutRecitals2014


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