Saturday, May 16, 2020

Music Kitchen Forgotten Voices FEBRUARY Premiere #14 Featuring Gabriel Kahane's "All Is Quiet"

With Support from Carnegie Hall
Celebrating 30,000 Homeless Shelter Clients,
100 Concerts
and The15th Season
 ~ Featuring Comment Texts by Homeless Shelter Clients
Set By15 Composers ~
Premiering One Song Each Month
for 15 Months in a Selected Shelter
Through May 2020

Forgotten Voices World Premiere

Presented in Association with Carnegie Hall 

Zankel Hall

 ~ Coming Soon ~

How nice it is right about now to look back just a few months ago to when life proceeded along more familiar patterns and we could gather together to celebrate all aspects of life, including to hear a concert. February was a busy month of concerts for me which included my debut on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series and my debut as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony.  I'm happy that we were able to get our 14th premiere of Forgotten Voices complete towards the end of the month, and the day before my first Baltimore Symphony concert.  I am also delighted to be able to feature Gabriel Kahane in the song cycle.  I had read about his Oratorio Emergency Shelter Intake Form and knew that his social justice consciousness plus great artistry would be a wonderful addition to this project.  His song, "All Is Quiet," also adds a unique texture and mood to the cycle, and is a perfect complement to the set of songs within the cycle which take imaginative flights beyond the commenter's immediate experience of being in a shelter.

While we anxiously await our rescheduled Carnegie Hall world premiere, we have some exciting news for our originally scheduled concert date of next Thursday May 21st: We will present the virtual public premiere of our 15th and final Forgotten Voices song, "Hooking In" by Kamala Sankaram!  With a text describing fishing, and summer fast approaching, the song resonates as both literal and poetic.  While there are many "fish" in our lives that seem to be eluding us now, with our attempts hitting many snags along the way, we will eventually "hook in" and catch what we desire!  I hope you will tune in Thursday May 21st for our special Music Kitchen Bridging the Distance 15th Premiere! (Of course we proudly continue the tradition of offering this work first to Music Kitchen shelter clients!) Please see below for ZoomCast Details.
As always, I hope you will include Music Kitchen and the Forgotten Voices project in your giving by clicking here:
Thank you for all you do.
Warmest Regards,
Music Kitchen New York City - Photos by Jaime Yaela

Upcoming 15th 



May 21st at 3pm
Zoom ID# 543 
929 565

Forgotten Voices World 


Presented in Association 


Carnegie Hall

Zankel Hall

 ~Coming Soon ~

Premiere #14: February

Composer Highlight: Gabriel 


Chosen Text:

"I’m in a grand ballroom. 
People are sitting around in their finest evening wear. 
All is quiet, 
all ears are
in tune to the music. 
A story forms— 
it cannot be told... 
By now a waltz is in order.

The Sun shines. 


Gabriel Kahane would like you to know the following 
ten facts about his life:

1. Despite his Eastern Euro-Prussian Jewish roots, 
Gabriel is a devoted Italophile, saucing pasta with 
obsessive precision (emulsify, emulsify, emulsify!) 
and spending many a Sunday in the aisles of D. 
Coluccio & Sons in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 
where he can often be found ogling sleek 
packages of bespoke bucatini. #YOLO
2. As a kid growing up in Rochester, NY and then 
Santa Rosa, CA, he was a fiercely competitive 
chess player, traveling around the United 
States to compete in tournaments that took 
place in hotel ballrooms air-conditioned to 
temperatures that wouldn’t be out of place in a 
steakhouse’s walk-in refrigerator. In 1998, 
Gabriel beat Hikaru Nakamura at the U.S. Open; 
Nakamura would go on to become a 
grandmaster and four-time overall U.S. Chess 
Champion. (Okay, Hikaru was twelve at the time, 
but still!)
3. Gabriel’s career as a musician began in 
earnest at a Chinese restaurant in a small 
town in New England, where, at the age of 
four, he picked up a solitary chopstick and 
began conducting an imaginary 
performance of Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto. 
Or at least that’s the story his parents tell. 
He has not conducted since.
4. Questions about genre and categorization 
seem to crop up like Kudzu around 
discussions of Kahane’s work, which, he 
admits, draws readily and 
promiscuously from Romanticism, 
Modernism, Dadaism, folk traditions, 
architecture, poetry, experimental fiction, 
journalistic practice, political activism, and 
Italian cuisine. But the truth is that he 
finds these questions somewhat dull, 
and would prefer that the listener attend 
to the musical, emotional, intellectual, and 
spiritual content, rather than getting 
hung up on what to call something. 
5. His fourth album as a singer-songwriter, 
entitled Book of Travelers, recounts an 
8,980 mile train trip that Gabriel began on 
the morning after the 2016 Presidential 
 election. Unlike his previous records, which 
are densely populated by strings, 
woodwinds, and brass, keening guitars, 
the clattering of drums, and electronic 
bleeps and bloops, Book of Travelers finds 
Kahane singing alone at the piano. You 
should check it out. It’s a statement.
6. Gabriel has never lived in Los Angeles as 
an adult, despite having written his third 
album, The Ambassador, about the city. 
A staged version of The Ambassador was 
seen at BAM in 2014, directed by 
acclaimed English theater director John 
7. Some of Gabriel’s favorite writers 
include: Anne Carson, W.G. Sebald, 
Thomas Mann, Matthew Zapruder, Joan 
Didion, James Baldwin, Jorge Luis Borges, 
and Lewis Mumford.
8. In the 2019-2020 season, Kahane 
begins a three-year term as Creative Chair 
for the Oregon Symphony, for whom, in 
2018, he wrote emergency shelter intake 
form, an oratorio on themes of housing 
and homelessness. More than half a 
dozen orchestras around the country have 
declared their intention to perform the 
piece; Gabriel will believe it when he sees it.
9. There’s an extraordinary community of 
musicians working in these heady times, 
and Gabriel is proud to have worked with a 
number of them, including Paul Simon, 
Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Caroline 
Shaw, Phoebe Bridgers, Blake Mills, Punch 
Brothers, Anais Mitchell, and Orpheus 
Chamber Orchestra. 
10. Gabriel is married to an extraordinary 
woman named Emma; they have a 
daughter, Vera Rose, whose age is still 
being tallied in months, and a rather self-
possessed cat named Roscoe Greebletron 
Jones III, who spends his days trying to 
monetize his good looks on Instagram. 

116th Music Kitchen
February 20, 2020
Olivieri Center
Forgotten Voices Premiere #14
Featuring Gabriel Kahane “All Is Quiet”
Brahms Quartet No. 2 in A minor
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin
Ling Ling Huang, violin
Matthew Cohen, viola
Alexis Gerlach, cello
Jesse Blumberg, baritone

We returned to the Olivieri Center this afternoon for our 14th Forgotten Voices premiere.  Unlike other performances where we had to wish for more listeners to make their way to our performance, we walked into a room filled with people. Sitting or laying their heads on every one of the tables from the front to the back of the room, the heat, the stillness of waiting and uncertainty was palpable. 
We went down to the basement with the still brand new-looking stylish brown laminate flooring and cooler temperature to begin our rehearsal. Just before the appointed hour of 2:30pm, we went back upstairs for our performance.  Everyone now before us had a look not of stillness, nor displacement, but like they were just in the middle of something else and took this moment out of the day for a concert.  Like a mid-day concert series you might see in a business or retirement community, but here for a broader, less typical gathering across many walks of life.  There was the subway worker still wearing his yellow-orange work vest, a lady who seemed a wise and learned grandmother, a man in a smart sweater vest and nice pants who had perhaps just left the office, one with a backwards cap who might have just finished a game of B-ball.  The “school teacher,” the “college professor”- lives paused and anticipating of whatever we were offering.  And unlike some previous performances at this center, people were already engaged and watching all the way to the back of the long building.
I introduced Music Kitchen, members of our group and our first piece for the day.  As we near the end of the Forgotten Voices shelter premieres in honor of Music Kitchen’s 15th year, it was a pleasure to turn once again to the music of Brahms, a major source of inspiration in creating the concept of Music Kitchen.  I explained once again the theme devised from Brahms’ F-A-E statement, “free but alone,” (frei aber einsam) as well as his propensity for unrequited love and subsequent spelling of the woman’s name “AGATHE” in a piece of music.  The listeners were already intrigued by this fallible human character Brahms and listened with sharper ears.
We began to play to this audience, already in more rapt attention than some concert halls.  And only about 10 or 12 bars in, Matt had to stop as one of his strings went slack with the change in temperature from downstairs.  We came to a stop and before we could even get our instruments down, “It sounds beautiful!” Came the exclamation from the gentleman in the subway vest.  I was happy to hear this unexpected early feedback showing that he was already bonded to us and this experience.  After a brief tuning pause, we began again.  By the end of the 1st mvt, this time the same gentleman could no longer contain himself.  Slack jawed, “Woooooowwww!” came bubbling over the other responses.  First, he poignantly declared it “a duet of souls.” He then began an incredibly exuberant play by play of what he had just seen and heard that would have made ESPN proud- “First you were leading and the others were following, but then you got mad and it switched to her leading, then him, then he was leading, and you were all following, and then you all got mad...and you couldn’t have messed up or that would have messed everyone up...!”  “Yes,” I chimed in with a chuckle, “you have just described how chamber music works. The music is a dialogue with many changing moods and we are indeed interdependent on each other to make it work.”
The others still sat in rapt attention but with this gentleman stepping forward to hold the space with such exuberance, the others dared not speak for a while.  We played the slow movement and at the end, the same gentlemen excitedly jumped in again.  “Let me tell you a quick story...”. By now the others were shaking their heads and rolling their eyes with his frequent, exuberantly loquacious outbursts.  A staff member jumped in and said, “Mr. X, let them finish their performance!”  He continued but quickly wrapped up what turned out to be his testimonial by saying that the pain he felt in his back from a fall is now gone from being here and soothed by our performance.  Another lady whose warm focused eyes had seemed all along to want to spill her thoughts, finally said, “This really is music of the soul.”
I then turned to introducing Forgotten Voices- at the mere mention of the name, one man already pinged with resonance, “Hmmm!” And when I explained that no one had ever heard it before, that it was written for them here today, there were numerous audible expressions of awe around the room.  I pointed out the window as I explained that we would be taking their words straight to center stage at Carnegie Hall.  Perhaps this was a fact beyond conception because at this mention there was no sound or movement in the room. 
The piece is rhythmically atmospheric, with subtle references to Ravel La Valse, fitting for this imaginative text of being in “a grand ballroom.” One lady said quietly that this piece transports her to another place, saying that when you’re at a place like this that’s what you have to do.   She also said it told a story but without words.  Jesse went further with that idea, saying it is our job to tell a story through the music.  For another man, he felt it was “strong and robust.”  I said, and yet still it is reminiscent of French impressionist music in that there are lots of little notes, like an impressionist painting, but that when one stands back, the whole picture is revealed.  The same lady who had spoken before of a story also now declared the piece sexy, and later proudly told me she is 71.  She said the piece is sexy in part because it has much subtlety and that we brought out. “We’ll definitely have to tell Gabe that!” I said as we all shared a laugh.
Another lady said the song reminded her of Luciano Pavarotti, which Jesse quickly quipped, “I’ll take that as a compliment!”  And we shared another laugh.  Another lady said that she is Italian and grew up with classical because it was her parents love.  She intimated that it wasn’t for her back then but now today it really spoke to her.  She said poignantly that it reminded her of when your life turns upside down and then gets back on track.
With the audience’s permission, we did our now habitual second performance of the new work.  A man in the back spoke up for the first time.  “What genre is this?”
“Sounds so good man, I wish I had a surround sound system.”  I pointed to the ensemble so close to him, saying, “You’ve got a surround sound system!”  Matt chimed in that this is “old-school surround sound.”  But I was glad he felt so close to the music and this experience as to fantasize about a way to take the experience with him. 
Before we turned to our last movement of Brahms I asked if anyone had any questions for us.  A man said, “I want to learn to waltz.”  “Oooh, I said, this piece definitely inspires that!”  I told him that that can be the hobby that he works on, or rather, ‘the vision that transports him,’ referring back to the lady’s earlier comment. And then the lady who had already declared Brahms “music of the soul” now joyfully bantered with us, “I take it you guys love Brahms!”
We jumped into the dramatic last movement, with a respite of chorale-like calm before the final blustery ending.  We were greeted by an eruption of applause, bravos and cheers.  Right away, the super engaged subway worker said, “Miss lady, you did your thing!”  I replied, “Yes, we all did our thing!” 
When I asked for any final questions, there was one potent question, “That Carnegie concert- how can we get the information?  ‘Cause I definitely want to go- I won’t be here.  I’m leaving soon.”  I was thrilled to hear the strong desire expressed regarding our concert.  I also noted now several times the clients who declare imminent plans for their lives beyond the shelter, yet urgently wanting to know how to be part of Music Kitchen's Carnegie premiere.  I assured them that we want to invite everyone here today who wants to come regardless of their place of residence at that time.  I asked that they let Urban Pathways staff know and that even though it’s several months from now, and they may no longer be here, we will figure out how to get them free tickets.
I then invited those who wanted to be in the group photo with us to come on up.  The same subway-vested man, so engaged through every minute of our performance now said, “Me, me, me, me, me!!!” in a high-pitched, childlike voice, harkening back to another time, as he moved the chairs to come forward.  As the rest of the group was also moving towards the front, the lady who had also spoken frequently during the performance, came straight to me.  She hugged me and introduced herself as Juanita.  She obviously came from an educated background, filled with school and music lessons.  She told me about her piano lessons as a child, “Mother scared me all my life by saying ‘if you don’t have music in your life you lose part of your soul.’  I never understood what she meant, but now I do.”  Not just from today, she clarified, but realizations in her adult life and today’s concert were certainly powerful confirmation of her mother’s words all those years.

Prefer to send a check?
We welcome your checks at the following address:
Music Kitchen - Food for the Soul
Attn: Kelly Hall-Tompkins
P.O. Box 907
New York, NY 10040
Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen -Food for the Soul

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