"I don't sing because I'm happy. I'm happy because I sing." - William James

On Wednesday, September 24th, my husband and I braved through the UN crowds and Police barricades to to go the latest installment of the New Concerts at Tudor City Greens. It’s a lovely public park spot on the East side, within walking distance from Grand Central Station and the UN plaza itself (it’s called Tudor City Place). Raissa Katona Bennett hosted the evening of top-caliber Broadway and Cabaret singers, under the music direction and piano stylings of David Caldwell. It was sponsored by Cibo, on 41st street @ 2nd avenue, where we had after show drinks and appetizers. VocalEase lended them the sound equipment, which helped since there was a large crowd and some wind to contend with. It was produced in association with MAC, the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs.

The singers were: Raissa Katona Bennett (who sang from Phantom of the Opera), Hector Coris (sang from his upcoming comedy revue What’s The Point?), Richard Cramer (who sweetly sang a song about the flowers, wearing a bee outfit), Jenna Esposito (singing from her CD “13 Men…And Me!”, Eric Michael Gillett (proving himself yet again to be a powerful crooner), Rosemary Loar (reprising her role as Grisabella by singing “Memory”), Maria Moncada (spiced things up with “Perfidia” in both languages), Catherine Overfelt (blues-ed it up and provided co-host energies), & Darren Williams (wowed us with both comedic and heartfelt pieces). We had a treat at the end when Raissa and Rosemary sang a duet of “I Will Never Leave You” from Side Show. I’m chagrined I didn’t write down or remember all the great songs sung, but I always feel it a bit rude to be scribbling things down during a performance…

In any case, I plan on being there for the upcoming event on October 22nd. And look forward to future posts about some of the singers in the above lists and their upcoming shows as well.

I’m reading a book right now about the functions of the brain (will blog about it soon) and it reiterates the healing properties of music to the human psyche/soul/synapses, however you wish to put it.

While at the New Concerts at Tudor City Greens last Wednesday, I picked up a flier for a volunteer performing company called “VocalEase.” It seems they are a singing organization for hospitals, nursing homes, and senior centers. Music, but especially live music, has been known to improve morale amongst those who are sick, elderly, depressed, and otherwise experiencing physical and mental pain. Just to have someone come in and sing for an hour is incredibly good for the mental stimulation and healing process of an injured child or lonely senior citizen.

I remember performing as a 14-year-old for my grandma’s senior center, broadly singing into a microphone while cheesy karaoke tracks (they were awful during that time) blared from a boombox. I guess I was doing at that time what VocalEase does now!

It claims to have “a rotating roster of more than 80 performers, most with professional experience in cabaret, musical theater and jazz.” Might be something for me and any professional singers (or truly, anyone who likes to sing) to donate their time at.

Info: (212) 579-5386
www.vocaleaseinc.org

Not to be too morose, but in learning of Paul Newman’s passing this past weekend (his greatness transcended generational lines; both my mom and myself appreciated his work, although my mom probably swooned over his baby blue eyes more in her youth), I began to think about those people in today’s headlines who I will miss once they are gone. Whether this is tomorrow due to a tragic accident or years and years from now when I’m in my old age — doesn’t matter. These are the people (brainstormed in an hour while watching television) that mattered to me at one point in my life. Inspiration, entertainment, political, I just had a crush on him, whatever…and it’ll be interesting to read this in 10, 20, 30 year’s time to see what names are enduring and which have been thrown into the “oh I liked him/her but…” pile.

Of course I don’t include immediate friends and family members – I will of course mourn them. But they’ve promised not to die on me, so I’ve got that covered.

Barak Obama
Barbara Streisand
Bill & Hillary Clinton
Calvin Remsberg
Cloris Leachman
Debbie Reynolds
Jon Stewart
Mandy Patinkin
Nelson Mandela
Patrick Stewart
Patti Lupone
Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr
Peter Jackson
Renee Fleming
Scott Bakula
Simon Pegg
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Hawking
Stephen King
Stephen Sondehim
The Cast of Monty Python (the rest of them)
The Cast of MST3K

Didn’t realize I liked so many Stephens out there… 🙂 I will add to this list as I see fit.

-Sierra

** UPDATE **
My mom has informed me “I still swoon over the Newman of Hud with as much sensual vigor as I did in my youth.” Huzzah, Mom!

My honey’s blog has been mentioned a few times by CSPAN & on air by Leslie Bradshaw of CSPAN2. He recently posted his review of the first Presidential debate of 2008, and CSPAN deemed it fit to post on their website. Enjoy!