In these troubled times, we at Jaspan Schlesinger LLP extend our best wishes for the coming year to all.
Before my colleague Sally Donahue continues her series on guardianship matters next week, I thought I would fill in the gap and digress from the world of Trusts and Estates with some thoughts on the role that live music and theatre plays in making New York the world capital of the performing arts. I hope COVID-19 does not change that verb “plays” into the past tense “played.”
Many have suffered terribly in this pandemic, many of our friends and relatives have died or have mourned, many have lost their jobs, especially at the lower end of the earnings spectrum. Wall Street is fine; Main Street not so much. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to write about a group of artists who have been sidelined from displaying the fruits of their years of dedication, work, and talent. Even during the pre-pandemic times, when the New York live music and theatre scene was booming, making a living as performer was always a daunting challenge.
As I write, the Jazz Standard has closed and Birdland is in dire financial straits. The Metropolitan Opera, never a profitable enterprise, is suffering. Jazz at Lincoln Center is struggling. They have done their best to continue their work on the streaming services available on the internet and your support would greatly assist in keeping them alive. For example:
From the New York Times, “Ten Classical Concerts to Stream in January”
From Jazz at Lincoln Center, “New Online Jazz Programs”
Two samples of what we are missing.
From Jazz at Lincoln Center, “El Cantante, from Una Noche Con Rubén Blades – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Rubén Blades.” As a fortunate member of that audience, I echo the sentiments that, “the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis welcomed a very special guest to their Manhattan stage: nine-time Grammy winning singer, songwriter, actor, and activist Rubén Blades. For one unforgettable night—music-directed by the JLCO’s bassist and ’emerging master in the Latin jazz idiom’ (DownBeat) Carlos Henriquez—the worlds of salsa and swing collided. Backed by one of the world’s leading big bands, Blades took the audience on a tour through his greatest hits. In their write-up of the show, the New York Times said ‘Mr. Henriquez’s arrangements delivered consistently… Radically beautiful.’ ” Any fans of Jazz in general and Latin Jazz in particular will share this sentiment when listening to this song and taking advantage of the internet to watch other selections form that great institution, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and its great leader Wynton Marsalis.
From Broadway, “Girl From the North Country” was a great hit just as everything shut down. The innovative musical combined the music of Bob Dylan with the story telling of playwright Conor McPherson to produce a memorable night at the theatre. If it returns to the stage, it is a performance that is guaranteed to break your heart. Here’s a review from Ben Brantley of the New York Times. (It seems to strike an appropriate evocation of times past and perhaps times present for those of our neighbors suffering from the hardships of the pandemic.) Mr. Brantley, if you please, “A nation is broken. Life savings have vanished overnight. Home as a place you thought you would live forever no longer exists. People don’t so much connect as collide, even members of the same family. And it seems like winter is never going to end. . . Yet while this singular production, which opened on Thursday night at the Belasco Theater under McPherson’s luminous direction, evokes the Great Depression with uncompromising bleakness, it is ultimately the opposite of depressing. That’s because McPherson hears America singing in the dark. And those voices light up the night with the radiance of divine grace. . . ‘As we know, pain comes in all kinds,’ Dr. Walker tells the audience early in the show. ‘Physical, spiritual, indescribable.’ Those varieties of pain are all palpable in ‘Girl [From the North Country],’ and they’re never going to be healed. And then the music starts. You don’t know where it comes from, or even exactly what it means. But there’s no mistaking the sound of salvation.”
Here’s a preview from the London production: