Upcoming 54 Below Show: Samantha Joy Pearlman Sings the Music of Regina Spektor

A few months ago, Samantha Joy Pearlman started planning a concert with a really incredible set of tunes from Regina Spektor's catalog, and she graciously invited me to music direct. We are gonna be doing some awesome stuff - we've got Anthony Lee Medina (from Broadway's Hamilton), tapdancing from Jenn Rose, and a beautifully weird musical ensemble featuring the Meraki Chamber Players playing orchestrations by yours truly. 

And it's 54 Below, so you know the cocktails are gonna be baller. 

Get your reservation now! May 5, 11:30 PM

NVAK @ TUMO in Yerevan This Summer - Applications Open!

NVAK at TUMO (which was the subject of an Al Jazeera documentary on innovative education throughout the world) is now accepting applications for its 2017 summer program in songwriting, vocal performance, and music production. In addition to myself and NVAK founder Tamar Kaprelian, this year's staff will also include Cobra Starship's Gabe Saporta, international producer DerHova, and some guy named Xandy Barry, whose writing and producing credits include tracks by such up-and-comers as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and Maroon 5. 

The program accepts applicants aged 12-22. Housing and Board for international students is provided by Camp TUMO. The program offers a chance to study with an international faculty of some serious heavy-hitters in an incredibly friendly, culturally rich city (Yerevan, the capital of Armenia). 

A few tidbits: United States citizens do not need a Visa to travel to Armenia, which has lower crime than the States (and lower prices! I had a personal trainer there for $12/hr!). And the whole program will be conducted in English, which is pretty widely spoken in Yerevan. 

New Arrangement Debuting Tonight at Rhapsody in Brew

 

Meraki Chamber Players present an all new program featuring the music of Judd Greenstein, Alexandra Gardner, & more - including a new commission by composer Joe Young & a brand new chamber arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue by Andrew Fox. [Bolding mine]

"KCBC is also brewing us our very own beer just for the occasion (!!), inspired by the program we're performing! 

Natasha Loomis, flute
Alex Knox, clarinet
Terrence Thornhill, cello
Aurora Mendez, violin
Jordan Tarantino, viola
Joe Young, guitar & trumpet

Kings County Brewers Collective
381 Troutman St.
Brooklyn"

Songs of Protest at 54 Below in NYC, March 29

We have put together a pretty redonkulous stable of performers and songs for an upcoming 54 Below concert showcasing protest and satire. We've got Berlin Cabaret tunes, Motown, Country, Showtunes, obligatory Randy Newman, and some really funny satire, with performers like Nellie McKay, Andrew Samonsky, Amy Jo Jackson, K Sloan, These Guys, and more! I'll be music directing and arranging.

A portion of the proceeds will be going to the National Chapter of the ACLU, because god knows they need everything they can get these days. 

Get your reservations now

Hey Mom, I'm on Al Jazeera!

Back in the summer of 2016, a film crew from Al Jazeera English came into the classrooms of TUMO to film a documentary series highlighting innovative education around the world, which in this case had taken them to Armenia to see the incredibly creative work being done by TUMO (and NVAK, the music program I worked for that partnered with TUMO). 

Check out the video to learn more about this incredible institution (and to see clips of me and my amazing students making music, of course)!

NVAK at TUMO: Armenia Teaching News and Pictures

So, this past July I taught for NVAK's inaugural program in Armenia! Ben Moody (of Evanescence), Tamar Kaprelian (of Eurovision's Geneaology), and myself spent two weeks at the state-of-the-art TUMO facility teaching pop performance, production, and songwriting. 

I don't speak Armenian or know much about Armenian news media, so apologies in advance for the vague descriptions of these sources. 

Armenia's Official Music Channel 21 Profiles the NVAK program

Coverage of NVAK in Armenian Online Print Media (English Translation)

Coverage of NVAK in Armenian Online Print Media (Original Armenian)

The talent in Armenia was pretty unbelievable, and I'm so excited to share the finished products once I get them. In the meanwhile, I will say this - the city of Yerevan is one of the safest, coolest places I've ever been, and the food is out of this world. And the taxis don't have seatbelt buckles, so, uh, hold tight. 

Myself and Ben, presumably making a HILARIOUS joke about XLR cables. 

Myself and Ben, presumably making a HILARIOUS joke about XLR cables. 

Broadway in Chicago, tonight!

Midwesterners - this is certainly late notice, but if you get a chance be sure to check out the free Broadway in Chicago concert in Millennium Park, tonight at 6:15 pm (seating starts at 5:15). It's gonna have some incredible performances, a pretty big and awesome ensemble, and expert music direction. I had the opportunity to contribute an orchestration, and if I can't be there to see it, I hope some of you can check it out in my place. 

New Episode of Take a Ten Available to Stream

So for the past year or two, Andy Roninson has been writing a podcast called Take a Ten Musicals. It's a monthly production featuring Broadway stars in fully-produced original ten-minute musicals. Last month I got to co-compose some of the music. Check it out!

 

Marriage Proposal String Arrangement

Last Fall (October, I think?) I had the pleasure of writing a string arrangement for Nicholas Fox (aka Human Drum Machine, one of the best beatboxers you'll ever have the pleasure of hearing), who used it to propose to his girlfriend in true musical theatre fashion - by having BOTH of them sing this surprise duet from The Last Five Years

(The Last Five Years, incidentally, is all about a divorce. But I think we can all feel safely assured that Nick and Mimi will not suffer the same fate as the musical's protagonists.)

Playbill Article: Star of "The Following" and Tony-Nominated Broadway Talent to Feature in the Circle Concert Series

The Circle, a group of award-wining songwriters, will present their third concert of original songs in New York City. The evening will feature performances from Sam Underwood ("The Following," "Dexter"), Tony nominee Keala Settle(Hands on a Hardbody, Les Misérables) and "So You Think You Can Dance" finalistAriana DeBose (Hamilton, Pippin).

The concert, to be held March 9 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre...

Full article can be read here. 

Album Release: Tha Los, Night Off EP

Carlos Valdes (of CW's The Flash) musical alter-ego, Tha Los, has just released a brand-new EP, Night Off. It's a little bit funk, a little bit jazz fusion, a little bit smooth 70s pop, a little bit retro stag film soundtrack, a little bit dirty disco. It's available via iTunes and bandcamp

Producing this one was a total blast - we did it old-fashioned, with no click track (okay, one song has click track, but I won't tell you which), no headphones, all basic tracking done live in the same room. A killer band - Carlos on bass and vocals, AJ Holmes on keyboards, Brent Michael DiRoma on guitar, and Jamie Donald Eblen (currently drumming on Broadway in Honeymoon in Vegas, which you should totally see if you haven't) on drums. Plus some amazing horn players and backup singers. We tracked in the beautiful Relic Room NYC with Tom Rosato and Josh Hahn.

Old-school recording. All live, minimal processing, minimal dynamic range compression. 

There's a supercut of it and some previews on this site (under "Producer-Arranger") - check it out, and buy a copy! Carlos is trying an experiment where instead of promoting the record, he lets people discover it. Well, go discover it right now - you won't be disappointed. 

FringeNYC's The Magical Negro Speaks

Last August, I music directed and composed some music for a show that comedian/performer Jamil Ellis has been developing for quite awhile about stereotyping and racial tropes, called The Magical Negro Speaks. It was part of FringeNYC and was selected for FringeNYC's encore series and was a fantastic experience.

Today I'm reading some articles and whose show do I see mentioned in a Slate article on race and the magical negro trope? That guy, obviously. Check it out!

The Anonymous People wins Best Feature Documentary at 2014 Prism Awards

The Anonymous People, as the headline indicates, just won Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 Prism Awards. As well it should - it's a well-made, moving film about addiction. You can purchase the documentary on Itunes here. 
 

From their About: 

With the release of The Anonymous People documentary film, Faces & Voices of Recovery and our partners are collaborating to launch a new campaign, MANYFACES1VOICE.ORG to engage and mobilize the newly emerging constituency to transform public attitudes and policies affecting people seeking or in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Whether behind the scenes or on the front line, every recovery voice is needed.

I'm honored to have been a very, very small part of this film, having contributed some assistant scoring for Brendan Berry's awesomely subtle soundtrack. 

Songwriting & Vocal Camps 2014!

SUNY Purchase's precollege music programs are about to enter their fourth year, and we've got a lot of fun stuff planned that I wanted to share!

These programs are of course the Songwriting Workshop, Creative Vocal Lab, and Vocal Intensive. Songwriting runs from June 30 to July 11, Creative Vocal Lab from July 14 to the 25th, and Vocal Intensive from July 28 to August 8. 

Songwriting Workshop 

The first big announcement we have is that we have a new lead instructor for Songwriting Workshop, Mr. Tom Rosato. This guy does everything: he's a rock/pop bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist, he's even been a jazz pianist. But what he really does is produce & engineer. As front of house for the Bard Avon theatre he's mixed everyone from Ben Folds to The Temptations; as a producer he's worked on some of my favorite recent recordings, and recently we had delightful experience of making the Twisted: Twisted record together, which was a blast. In fact, just about anything that's well-mixed on my website was probably mixed by him. We've yet to find a genre he can't handle. 

He's helping us to make the program even more hands-on. We're talking guided collaborations, group recordings, performance workshops, lyric-writing labs, etc, with more in-studio recording and songwriting challenges than ever before. We'll be analyzing a combination of classic songs and modern hits, figuring out what makes them work, and creating our own. This program is consistently the most popular and well-attended of all Purchase's summer programs, and it's a real hoot.

Other course instructors include myself, Evan Feist (scroll down for his redonk credits) and Blake Reynolds (who has created some incredible orchestral video game scores, and understands pop music like nobody's business), plus some other awesome peeps. 

Once you've learned how to write songs, ditch the instrument and head over to...

Creative Vocal Lab

In Creative Vocal Lab, singers aren't just interpreters - they are songwriters, collaborators, and arrangers, who learn how to turn the sounds in their head into fully-realized music. Students compose melodies, harmonize, create back-up parts & basslines, and lay down drums - with nothing but their voices. No instruments, no sheet music. 

A little about my co-teacher for this: Evan Feist was an assistant arranger for the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect, an arrangement editor for NBC's The Sing-Off (seasons 3 & 4), a vocal coach for NBC's The Voice, and he will be providing vocal percussion for the upcoming season of Glee. He also has two master's degrees in music from Columbia University, and generally knows his stuff and is amazing at getting you to know it too. 

Singers create a cappella ensembles and learn how to make their own songs & their own arrangements. After two weeks, we have enough original material for an hourlong concert. We also have a really collaborative vibe, and students who attend this camp typically remain friends for a long time afterward - it's a great group. 

"Hot Laundromat," an improvised vocal jam from 2012's Creative Vocal Lab

After you've spent two weeks using your voice in collaborative writing & improvising ensembles, develop your skills as a soloist (once again with myself and Mr. Feist) in:

Vocal Intensive

Purchase Vocal Intensive focuses on developing the vocalist as a solo performer, interpreter, and artist. This isn't a course in any specific style or tradition of singing (operatic, musical theatre, rock/pop) - the skills you develop in this program can and will be applicable to performing in any genre, and you won't have to worry about losing your own personal style. In the past we've done everything: country, alt-rock, showtunes, jazz, even some opera. 

In two activity-filled weeks, singers go in-depth with vocal production techniques, song analysis and preparation, audition strategies, acting and performance skills, and sight-singing.  Students will leave the program with a diverse repertoire of artistic tools that allow them to deliver dynamic interpretations, take creative risks, and sculpt active, focused performances. 

Also, it's really, really fun. (But hey, we're biased.) It's smaller than the other two courses, with lots of personalized attention and song selection. 

And we don't have video of it yet! But we will. I promise.