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Stephanie and I saw a concert by Mostly Modern Projects on 10/23/20. Yes, a concert in a concert hall, live, in person, with other people in the audience and the performers right there in the room! UNPRECEDENTED!


Stephanie heard about it because she had been to other events at the venue, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music on West 37th St. The email said the concert would have an extremely limited audience, so Stephanie and I both RSVPd immediately and got seats. It turns out we were part of an audience of 16! That’s what I call intimate. Temperature checks at the door, masks for everyone, social distancing throughout.


The artistic director said it felt like a “speakeasy situation,” where you’re not REALLY allowed to do the thing you were doing, but you do it in a responsible and thoughtful way. Hm, really? What we saw was a recording session for three pieces by Robert Paterson and David Cote. *In Real Life* is a piece for soprano and chamber ensemble, written in 2017. *In Real Life II* is a new piece for baritone and the same ensemble, this was the world premiere. And they filled out the program with a new piece for the two singers, “Extraordinary.”


Let me credit the whole gang:


Robert Paterson, composer

David Cote, lyricist and librettist

Steven Osgood, conductor

Marnie Breckinridge, soprano

Jorell Williams, baritone

John Romeri, flute

Keve Wilson, oboe

Nuno Antunes, clarinet

Blair McMillan, piano

Matt Ward, percussion

Robin Braun, violin

Philip Payton, viola

Peter Sachon, cello


The two *In Real Life* pieces were about five people dealing with online dating. The first song set the tone for the evening. The harmonies were simple, the rhythm was slack, there was no counterpoint to speak of. The text setting was good but the text itself was uninspired and worthy of the occasional eyeroll. One couplet in the first song: “I don’t expect a miracle / I know the world is spherical.”


The second song was the best piece on the concert, very satisfying. It was about a middle-aged woman entering the dating world. It felt like both the lyricist and the composer were making something special, the song seemed to be going somewhere. Here's soprano Marnie Breckinridge and a different set of players in the American Modern Ensemble in a performance from 2017:






















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