Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Leonard Lehrman and Helene Williams in Upstate New York, Aug. 3-8

Leonard Lehrman and Helene Williams, who gave us a wonderful performance of songs from Leonard's musical The Booby Trap at Green Fest 2007, are performing again in upstate New York this August. Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008, Leonard and Helene will perform together with national treasure Helen Boatwright at 3pm in a program of music by Charles Ives, Howard Boatwright, and Leonard Lehrman at Helen Boatwright's home in Fayetteville, co-sponsored by the Society for New Music. Admission by invitation only. Please contact Leonard and Helene by email at

Later that week, Helene and Leonard will be leading "Free Your Voice" workshops Wednesday and Thursday Aug. 6 & 7 at 3, and performing in concert Friday evening Aug. 8 at 7 with Cary Bair in the Opera/Musical Theatre Special Interest Group of The Naturist Society, as part of the Northeast Naturist Festival at Empire Haven in Moravia, NY. For details, call (315) 497-0135 or go to the festival website.

Helene and Leonard rehearsing.

Leonard and Helene have had a busy spring. On Saturday, May 17, 2008, the first performance of The Booby Trap since Susan Blake's death, took place in her memory, at Womanspace at the Great Neck Senior Center, co-sponsored by Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition's "Prevention Is the Cure" Week. Performing were Helene Williams, Kathryn Wieckhorst (taking Susan's part and also playing the cello), and Cary Bair and Leonard Lehrman, who alternated at the grand piano. In attendance were 50 people, mostly women, mostly retired. Professor Scott Carlin of Long Island University gave an illuminating lecture, and led a lively discussion afterwards.

Helene and Leonard with Kathryn Wieckhorst.

Prof. Scott Carlin, Michael and Cindy Rosenbaum, Cary Bair, Ann Mayer-Kristiansen, Helene, Gladys Roth, and Leonard at Womanspace on May 17, 2008.

On Saturday, June 7, 2008, a full-to-capacity Court Street Music in Valley Stream hosted their 7th annual recital by and for students of Helene Williams & Leonard Lehrman, and their friends & families, this year dedicated to the memory of Susan Blake. The major work premiered on the program was Leonard's new song cycle "Long Island Songs of Seasoned Women," settings of 10 poems by 9 Long Island women poets, all of whom are represented in the anthology, "Songs of Seasoned Women" (Quadrasoul, 2007), edited by Patti Tana. Helene sang settings of poems by Tana (opening and closing the cycle), Sally Ann Drucker, Susan Astor, Lynn Green, Pat Falk, Margaret Dinzler Shaw, and Muriel Lilker. Helene's student Ijeoma Merenini sang settings of poems by Marcia McNair and Lorraine Mund. McNair, Green, and Lilker all attended.

Leonard, Helene, Lynn Green, Marcia McNair, Muriel Lilker and Ijeoma Merenini at Court Street Music on June 7, 2008.

Tana, whose mother passed away that evening, sent copies of the book for all in the grateful audience to follow the texts. Musical references quoted in the cycle, which was introduced and accompanied by the composer, include two Christina Rossetti settings of Leonard's, Trouble in Tahiti, La Bohème, Hair, "Dayenu" from the Passover Seder (which Susan attended in Valley Stream regularly), Schubert's "Ave Maria," the anti-war song "Study War No More," which was sung at Susan's burial October 8, 2007, led by Lisa Fishbein, who herself passed away January 29, 2008 at age 51, and two duets from The Booby Trap that had been written for, and performed by Susan: "Bras, Not Genes," and "Pusher Bra." Nassau County People's Poet Max Wheat and his wife Virginia attended the run-thru the day before, and spoke glowingly of the poems and their settings, promising to try to help enable the booking of other performances.

The People's Poet Laureate of Nassau County, Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. and his wife Virginia.

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, the 55th anniversary of the death of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, the National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case held its annual memorial meeting, this year for the second time at NYU's Tamiment Library, which houses the Committee's papers. Messages of solidarity from Robert and Michael Meeropol and the Association pour le réxamen de l'affaire Rosenberg in France. Audience members numbered 132. $1515 was collected. Tributes were paid to members of the Committee who recently passed away: Helene Williams sang Edith Segal's "My Loved One" and "Underneath the Spanish Stars," the latter in memory of Moe Fishman (whose widow Georgia Wever spoke and mounted a beautiful photo exhibit of him) and Muriel Goldring, whose papers, left to the Tamiment, are still being processed, and who also left considerable sums of money to, among others, the Committee, the Tamiment Library, and the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Muriel's late husband Ben, and Moe Fishman, both fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Following Richard Corey's and Julie Eigenberg's singing of Richard's setting of "Ethel's Last Letter," 92-year-old Miriam Moskowitz, who had been imprisoned on the testimony of the same Harry Gold who was a star witness against the Rosenbergs, and who spent considerable time with Ethel in jail, movingly read the chapter on Ethel from her memoirs.

Morton Sobell, the Rosenbergs' co-defendant, Tamiment Director Michael Nash at the podium, "Professor" Irwin Corey and Leonard at the Tamiment Library, June 19, 2008.

Also featured as speakers were this year's National Lawyers Guild award recipient Margaret Ratner Kunstler (Helene performed Leonard's setting of Bill Kunstler's sonnet on Corliss Lamont, in tribute to her); Carol Jochnowitz, author of an eye-opening article in the latest Jewish Currents; and the Rosenbergs' co-defendant Morton Sobell--for whom Helene performed an excerpt from Leonard's & Kim Rich's new opera in progress, Alger: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of a conspiracy... to make life better for other people...?" Fifteen members of The Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus performed three works on texts by Abel Meeropol, the man who adopted the Rosenbergs' orphaned sons: "Lost Forever" (melody by Meeeropol, arranged by Leonard Lehrman); "Conscience" (music by Leonard Lehrman, performed in memory of "the social conscience of Long Island" who had spoken at the last several meetings, Susan Blake); and concluding with "The House I Live In" (music by Earl Robinson, arranged by Leonard Lehrman).

The photo of Susan Blake at the beach on Fire Island, first posted on this blog, is included in the tribute to Susan on the website of The New Music Connoisseur.

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