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King and I Review

I want to thank you and all of Networks for the tickets provided to me for the performance of THE KING AND I on last Saturday evening, June 24th.
I was absolutely thrilled with the production I saw and heard that night. The entire cast, the costumes and scenery, the orchestra and the sound were all in perfect harmony with the heart of this show, and each and everyone involved combined to make it a thrilling event for me. I have seen this production several times in NY at Lincoln Center and again in Providence when it was rehearsing there, but I have never been to a performance of THE KING AND I that I loved more than this one. It could be the best KING AND I that I have ever seen. The house was packed and the audience around me was having as good a time as I was.
Gerald Steichen is a wonderful conductor and musical director. The music was filled with nuance and richness in every measure. The orchestra played beautifully and the singing was superb. We could hear and savor every syllable of the lyrics and dialogue, something that was not always the case in NY.
You and your team of pros are giving the country a joyful and totally satisfying theatrical experience, one they would find hard to get even in NY. I hope you are as proud of yourselves and of your marvelous creation as all of us on the R&H team are of you.
I send you all my best wishes for great and continued success. And thank you again for the seats.
- Bruce Pomahac

KERN: Sally | Read Article

The main attraction here is Kern’s score …Gerald Steichen, a specialist in show music of this era, conducts it with a lovingly authentic hand.

 

- Eric Myers

Maestro begins new traditions in MSO’s 40th season | Read Article

The concert was well received by an enthusiastic audience that has heartily embraced the versatility of the new maestro.

- KATHERINE WALDEN

King & I Charlotte

On behalf of our local musicians and myself, I just needed to take a moment to thank you for putting Jerry Steichen on the road with K&I.  It is a joy for us all here to be making music with a consummate musician and conductor at the podium; who also knows how to get the sounds that both he and the show desires through positive suggestion and encouragement. Bravo.

 

The only drag for Charlotte is that our week’s run is now half over.

 

- Phil Thompson

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Gerald Steichen | Read Article

Regarded as one of America’s most versatile conductors, Gerald’s career has taken him all over the world conducting everything from opera and classical music to Broadway musicals.

- Elliot Lanes

Gerald Steichen named Music Director of the Macon Symphony Orchestra | Read Article

“We received such a favorable response from our musicians and from the community when Jerry was here,” said Sheryl Towers, CEO of the MSO. “We are very fortunate that he will bring his extraordinary creativity and passion to the orchestra as we prepare for our 40th Season.”

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‘Viva La Diva,’ Katherine Jenkins at the Café Carlyle | Read Article

Café Carlyle doesn’t immediately come to mind as a venue for Jenkins’ voice, but it works. It helps soften her and her personality is quite endearing. The patter and playful banter director Steichen made the setting feel like being in their living room. She reminisced about being a new mom and the pain of her father’s death when she was fifteen, singing “O Sole Mio” as a touching tribute to him.

- Katherine Kitt

Katherine Jenkins at the Café Carlyle | Read Article

A few minutes before showtime, the evening’s accompanist, Jerry Steichen, took his seat at the piano and immediately struck up a conversation, no doubt intended to relax us both. “Let me know if either of you want to come up here and take a turn,” he said with a devilish laugh.

- Peter Matthews

Voce di meche: Feel the Kern | Read Article

The excellent Music Director Jerry Steichen not only shone in his playing of the reduced score, but also narrated the omitted parts of the story from the piano. He is an engaging presence.

- Meche Kroop

HERBERT: The Only Girl | Read Article

Gerald Steichen conducts the 17-piece pit band with the perfect idiomatic period touch.

- Eric Myers

Thanks for helping the RSO spread holiday joy! | Read Article

Music makes the season, and supporters and sponsors of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra made the season especially bright last weekend when Music Director & Conductor Gerald L. Steichen and friends delighted shoppers at Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe with live music ringing throughout the candy store and ice cream parlor!

- Susan Dumont-Bengston

The sweet sounds of the RSO at Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe | Read Article

On Saturday, December 5, the uplifting sounds of the season were ringing throughout Ridgefield when Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra  Music Director & Conductor Jerry Steichen and friends brought their instruments to Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe on Main Street during the annual Holiday Stroll.

- Susan Dumont-Bengston

“Reviews from Albany,” The Only Girl | Read Article

“The score is very pleasant without having many really memorable numbers, but it is conducted with a passion by Gerald Steichen. Well worth the hearing, especially for local theatre groups looking for something out of the ordinary to perform.”

- Frank Behrens

Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra – October 3, 2015 | Read Article

“Steichen and his musicians did full justice to the music’s colorful combination of energetic rhythmical cadences and beguilingly orient-flavored lyricism, with particular kudos for percussion, solo woodwind voices, and brass.”

- Courtenay Caublé

Phoenicia Festival of the Voice – 2015 Festival Wrap Up | Read Article

Follow the “Read Article” link to see the 2015 Phoenicia Festival of the Voice Wrap-Up, and see a cameo of Gerald Steichen.

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LOONY’s The Only Girl Recording Released | Read Article

Light Opera of New York’s recording of Victor Herbert’s 1914 comic operetta, The Only Girl, with Gerald Steichen conducting, is released on Albany Records.

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Deer Valley Music Festival Audience Review

“Thank you for an outstanding concert at Deer Valley last night.  We were so proud of the orchestra–OUR Utah Symphony!  You played with precision and heart.  The soloists added so much to our enjoyment of the 4th of July.  Patriotism was indeed increased and enjoyed by the thousands in attendance.  God Bless America…..God Bless the USA… And God Bless Our Utah Symphony!”

- Anonymous Audience Member

Utah Symphony Pops Conductor ready for Deer Valley Music Festival | Read Article

“This is going to be so much fun,” Steichen told The Park Record during a telephone call from Longview, Texas. “I got together and rehearsed with Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard last week. They are the two vocalists who will perform the program at Deer Valley and they are just so wonderful.”

- Scott Iwasaki

Ridgefield Symphony’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

More than any other concert I’ve attended in the many years I’ve reviewed the organization’s programs, last Saturday evening’s sold-out blockbuster final concert at the high school auditorium of the Ridgefield Symphony’s 50th Anniversary season was a telling reminder of how both amazed and grateful our town’s residents ought to be to have their own Miracle on Main Street.

 

Unlike show and pop music, which can be enjoyed by anyone at all, including listeners with no musical knowledge whatsoever, art music, which is usually incorrectly dubbed “classical” music, is a bit like a spoken language, which can sound either pretty or harsh to the ear but can be fully appreciated and enjoyed only by those who are familiar enough with it to know what is being said. No mystery, therefore, that in a society where school music and other “arts” programs have been curtailed or entirely eliminated to provide more money in support of “practical” subjects like math and science, art music has declined in popularity to the point where even in the New York Metropolitan Area there are only two radio stations, both of them listener supported, where one can go to hear it.

 

Reviews of musical performances have suffered similarly. Important to both performers and musical organizations because they are thankfully still regular features in world-class papers like The New York Times, but the newsroom editors of small local papers tend to label them as “fluff”, with no space available for them in publications whose space is essentially limited to social, political, sports and schools pieces, announcements of upcoming local events, and commercial and classified ads.

 

Hence the specialness of Ridgefield’s Symphonic Miracle, which is real evidence that our town actually has a sizeable community of both practically and culturally educated music lovers.

 

Sponsored by Harold Spratt in memory of his late wife Cora, Maestro Gerald Steichen’s ambitious program included Franz Schubert’s Rosamunde Ballet Music and Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, for which Steichen was joined by a wonderful quartet of vocal artists (soprano Theresa Santiago, mezzo-soprano Melissa Parks, tenor A.J. Glueckert, and baritone Ron Loyd), along with the Fairfield County Chorale under its music director David Rosenmeyer.

 

The orchestra played the Schubert ballet music both flawlessly and gracefully under Steichen’s skillful interpretative management of nuances and phrasing, and, with only a slight decline in precision in the slow third movement, the performance of the Beethoven’s glorious Ninth Symphony, a doubly wondrous work in view of the fact that Beethoven conceived it entirely in his mind after he had become totally deaf, was a triumph. The Fairfield County Chorale performed flawlessly, and the superb guest quartet handled Beethoven’s difficult score, conceived in Beethoven’s imagination more as an instrumental than a vocal quartet, with virtuosic ease. Vocal highlights included baritone Ron Loyd’s dramatic declamatory introduction of the final movement’s choral section and A.J. Glueckert’s beautiful delivery of the movement’s long tenor solo.

 

The very long standing ovation, replete with rousing applause, loud cheers, and whistles, suggested that those in attendance are likely to subscribe or re-subscribe for the RSO’s just- announced 2015-2016 season, which promises exceptionally fine programming of proven masterpieces. Those of you who weren’t present should do likewise in support of our town’s musical treasure.

- Courtenay Cauble

The Merry Widow | Read Article

The sumptuous orchestra, conducted by Gerald Steichen…

- Jennifer Goltz-Taylor

Celebration sets tone for comedic ‘The Merry Widow’ | Read Article

Conductor Gerald Steichen’s tasteful work in the pit contributed to the overall polish of this Widow.

- George Bulanda

Natoma! | Read Article

“This is a reading, not a performance,” stressed Alyce Mott, artistic director of the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project, prior to a full run-through of a newly-restored version of Herbert’s ambitious 1911 grand opera Natoma. The reading took place the afternoon of July 13 in the Mary Flagler Cary Hall of the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, and it represented the first big public step in rehabilitating this forgotten work. The restoration job has been a true labor of love, stretching out over many years and requiring the combined talents of Mott, musicologists Glen Clugston and Peter Hilliard, and fiscal sponsor Dan Pantano of the Concert Operetta Theatre in Philadelphia.
They are owed a debt of gratitude, as Natoma turns out to be a real piece of buried treasure. Herbert’s score is gorgeous and often galvanizing in its dramatic force, and the plot, ham-handed though it may be, sensitively treats its Native American title character. Natoma the daughter of a deceased chieftain, lives on one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1820 under the Spanish regime. She is loved by Paul, a U.S. naval officer, but Paul’s attention instantly strays the moment Natoma’s dearest childhood friend Barbara, daughter of a Spanish nobleman, returns home after growing up in a convent. A figure of self-sacrifice, Natoma steps aside, and even kills a Spanish officer who tries to abduct Barbara. As the opera ends, Natoma renounces her own faith and seeks protection from the law within the walls of a cloister.
One would not want to oversell Natoma — its libretto by Joseph D. Redding is clunky in the extreme, featuring tissue-thin characters, glacial plotting, and the worst kind of Victrola Book of the Opera “librettoese.” “Thee’s” and “thou’s” abound, as do such moments as the half-breed villain snarling at Natoma: “Softly! Softly! I would not make you angry; and yet, methinks, if that young Lieutenant from the big ship asked you to his wigwam, you would not say him nay. Ah, ha! ha! ha!”
Natoma had its premiere in Philadelphia on February 25, 1911, presented by what was then known as The Philadelphia-Chicago Grand Opera company. The first performance boasted a starry cast that included Mary Garden in the title role plus John McCormack, Lillian Grenville, Mario Sammarco, Hector Dufranne, and Armand Crabbé. The same company brought Natoma to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera three nights later, though not under the Met’s auspices. Both critical and audience reaction was muted, and Natoma quickly slipped away into history.
The audience for this restoration, however, went along quite willingly with Herbert’s lushly melodic score and thrilling orchestration, vividly conducted by Gerald Steichen. This is no operetta —although Herbert provided plenty of local flavor and pageantry in the music, it is a highly dramatic score that at times shows the influence of Liszt and Wagner, and looks ahead to some of the better Hollywood work of Alfred Newman and Franz Waxman. Despite the slow pacing (the leisurely first act clocks in at nearly ninety minutes) there is plenty of dramatic tension in the score, as well as moments of heart-stopping beauty. A large first-act concerted ensemble, interwoven with an offstage women’s chorus, was particularly ravishing. It was especially painful that, due to the orchestra’s strict union regulations, Steichen literally had to cut off the finale of the opera with only eight bars left to go, rather than face crippling overtime charges.
A fine cast of young singers, forging their way through the antiquated libretto with complete conviction, allowed us to hear this work with all the respect it was due. Lara Ryan sang the title role with a creamy soprano full of power at both ends of her wide range. The huge orchestra sometimes covered her middle register during the most dramatic moments; one has to wonder how a lyric soprano like Garden could have gotten through this role, which would seem to require a full-scale dramatic soprano. Monica Yunus sang in sparkling, silvery tones as Natoma’s romantic rival Barbara, and tenor Paul Merrill brought enormous charm and a ringing tenor to the part of Lieutenant Paul. Gregory Sheppard unfurled a warm, mellow bass as Barbara’s father Don Francisco, and Ron Loyd displayed an appropriately granitic, grounded sound as the local priest, Father Peralta. Baritones Matthew Singer and Robert Balonek used pointed tone and clear diction to make the most of the villainous roles of Juan Bautista Alvarado and Jose Castro, while young tenor Colin Anderson had a brief, shining moment singing a catchy, campy milonga in the Act II fiesta scene.
Chances are that we will never see a full-scale mounting of this wonderfully old-fashioned work, but Natoma could easily lend itself to concert stagings, and is definitely overdue for a full recording.  People are going to be surprised by just how good much of this music really is.
- ERIC MYERS

Anchorage Opera’s uncomplicated ‘Madame Butterfly’ | Read Article

“The orchestra, conducted by Gerald Steichen, nicely executed the several long, atmospheric instrumental sections that set the mood in the work.”

- Mike Dunham

Dancing with the RSO All-Stars | Read Article

“Just as big changes are coming for ABC-TV’s “Dancing With the Stars,” with sports reporter Erin Andrews in as the new sidekick to Tom Bergeron, Ridgefield’s own beloved “Dancing” event is bringing major changes to its fifth and final season.”

- Lisa McCormick

Utah Symphony with Brian Stokes Mitchell (November 2013) | Read Article

“Mitchell shared the stage with his frequent partner, pianist Tedd Firth, and a concert by the two is a rare treat. But when they are joined by the Utah Symphony, the performance becomes exhilarating.”

- Blair Howell, Deseret News

Ridgefield Symphony wins Business Supports the Arts Award | Read Article

The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and Danbury Hospital were recognized for our collaborative CD of Lullabies from around the world, “Sweet Dreams”.  Created for patients in the Spratt Neo-Natal ICU of Danbury Hospital, the CD features members of the RSO, and guest stars from the worlds of opera and musical theater who donated their talents for this incredible project.

- Jerry Steichen

Orchestra opener: A memorable experience (October 2013) | Read Article

“With its varied but complementary styles, Music Director Gerald Steichen’s fine program included Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, and Beethoven’s great Symphony No. 7. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi was Maestro Steichen’s splendid guest soloist.”

- Courtenay Caublé, Hersam Acorn

Ballroom with a Twist Review (January 2013) | Read Article

“The Utah Symphony and conductor Jerry Steichen seemed to be having a blast as they skillfully navigated from pop to country to classical to Latin.”

- Tyler Hinton, BroadwayWorld.com

Rhapsody in Blue Ogden Review (November 2012) | Read Article

“Steichen, always a delightful presence when holding a baton for the Utah Symphony, gamely joined Vroman singing “I’d Rather Charleston” — even daring a few dance steps himself. In his charming, conversational manner, he also gave a few helpful notes between pieces to help newcomers to the music understand Gershwin’s epic role in popular music.” “The orchestra had rhythm in spades, playing a fun night of music by George Gershwin, the king of the Great American Songbook.”

- Linda East Brady, The Ogden Standard Examiner

Michael Cavanaugh Review (September 2012) | Read Article

“The more successful moments of the evening came during the slower and softer numbers, such as “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “New York State of Mind,” where the orchestra’s string section warmly caressed the songs without overshadowing them. It was also a showcase for the orchestra’s horn section, which often doesn’t get to shine during masterworks.”

- David Burger, The Salt Lake Tribune

Deer Valley Pink Martini Review (August 2012) | Read Article

“The Utah Symphony fit nicely into the thick of the action, making songs like the fiery “Yolanda?” sound like Pink Martini on steroids. Conductor Jerry Steichen kept the partnership together and in balance.”

- Celia Baker, The Salt Lake Tribune

Simply Sinatra Review (February 2012) | Read Article

“The Utah Symphony, under conductor Jerry Steichen’s baton, rose to the occasion. Adding an exuberant saxophone section helped the brass section really shine on the big-band standards, and the swelling strings were reminiscent of sweet tunes you listen to on a crackling turntable. Steichen has performed with Lippia before, and it showed.”

- Hillary Bowler, The Deseret News

Profile Story about Jerry Steichen (February 2012) | Read Article

- Hillary Bowler, The Deseret News

Cirque de la Symphonie Review (September 2009)

“Steichen seemed like the perfect bridge between the Cirque and symphony. He formed a strong rapport with the audience, not only through his dynamic personality, but also his energetic interpretations of the music… It was easy to watch him and watch the performers in this delightful performance.”

- Scott Iwasaki, The Deseret News

Profile Story about Jerry Steichen (November 2009) | Read Article

- Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune

Deer Valley Chamber Orchestra Review (July 2009)

“Principal pops conductor Jerry Steichen conducted, and he elicited wonderfully expressive playing from the orchestra that complemented Selberg’s romantically charged approach.”

- Edward Reichel, The Deseret News

Drink of the Month

Mojito

  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 2 oz white rum
  • club soda

In a glass, muddle lime juice with sugar, add mint and mush against the sides of the glass. Fill glass 2/3 full with cracked ice and pour in the rum. Top off with club soda. Garnish with a lime.