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New York Festival of Song Hosts Annual Gala

April 18, 2024 | By Morahan Arts and Media

Contact: Katlyn Morahan | Morahan Arts and Media
katlyn@morahanartsandmedia.com | (646) 378-9386


Festive Event Held at a Private Club
on Monday, May 13

Featuring Performances by Shereen Pimentel, Mary Testa, Tony
Yazbeck, Shavon Lloyd, Jason Yeager, and Steven Blier 


New York, NY (April 17, 2024)New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) hosts its annual spring gala, 100 Years of Broadway Love, on Monday, May 13, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. at the Racquet & Tennis Club on Park Avenue. In support of NYFOS’ programming and unique engaging concerts, the evening includes cocktails, dinner, and performances covering a century of love songs—including some out-of-love songs—from Kern to Sondheim.

The gala features Broadway sensation Shereen Pimentel, Drama Desk Award winner Mary Testa, Tony-nominated Tony Yazbeck, rising baritone Shavon Lloyd, and jazz pianist Jason Yeager, as well as NYFOS’s own Steven Blier as pianist and host. 

Proceeds from the NYFOS Gala directly underwrite NYFOS programming and make possible all the uniquely engaging concerts that are its hallmark. 

Event Information
100 Years of Broadway Love
Monday, May 13, 2024 at 6:30 p.m.
Racquet and Tennis Club | 370 Park Avenue | New York, NY 10022
Ticket Link: https://nyfos.org/gala/ 

With performances by:
Shereen Pimentel
Mary Testa
Tony Yazbeck
Shavon Lloyd
Jason Yeager

Hosted by:
Steven Blier

About Shereen Pimentel
Soprano Shereen Pimentel, from New Jersey has been described as a promising young vocal artist. She starred in the 2020 Broadway revival of West Side Story as Maria. She was recognized for her outstanding performance as an Outer Critics Circle honoree for Best Actress in a Musical. She was last seen as Eva Perón in American Repertory Theatre & Shakespeare Theatre Company's co-production of Evita. Her other credits include Guenevere in Camelot at The Muny, and New York City Center’s Encores! production of Into the Woods as Rapunzel.  

Ms. Pimentel started performing professionally at the very young age of nine, when she debuted on Broadway as Young Nala in The Lion King. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as a vocal soloist in Jon Batiste's American Symphony. Ms. Pimentel has also worked with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic. Her screen credits include John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch on Netflix. Shereen is a graduate from the Juilliard School with a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.

About Mary Testa
Mary Testa is the recipient of the Legend of Off-Broadway Award, Three Tony nominations, two Lucille Lortel nominations, six Drama Desk nominations, two Drama League nominations, two Outer Critic's Circle nominations, an Obie Award, and a special Drama Desk award celebrating Queen of the Mist and 'Three Decades of Outstanding Work.' Broadway: Oklahoma!, Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu, Chicago, 42nd Street, Marie Christine, On the Town, Forum, etc. Opera: Anna Nicole/BAM.  Off-Broadway: Oklahoma!, The Portuguese Kid, The Government Inspector, First Daughter Suite, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Queen of the Mist, Love Loss.., A New Brain, See What I Wanna See, etc. Film: “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical”, “The Mother” (short; 3 Best Actress Awards), ‘Big Stone Gap”, “Eat Pray Love”, “The Bounty Hunter”, etc. Television: “The Good Fight”, “Divorce”, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Bull”, “SMILF”, “Two Broke Girls”, “Difficult People”, and “Whoopi”. Featured on fourteen original cast albums, Mary's album with Michael Starobin, Have Faith, is now available.

About Tony Yazbeck
Tony Yazbeck most recently was seen on Broadway as Cary Grant in Flying Over Sunset at Lincoln Center Theater. He began his career at age 11 on Broadway in Gypsy with Tyne Daly.  He has appeared in 11 Broadway shows including On The Town, for which he was nominated for Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League awards for his performance. He also received the Fred Astaire Award. His other Broadway credits include Prince of Broadway (Chita Rivera award, Drama Desk and OCC noms), Chicago, Gypsy with Patti LuPone (OCC nom), A Chorus Line, and Finding Neverland. Tony has appeared on television in “Billions”, “The Good Fight”, “Smash”, and was recently part of the Leonard Bernstein Tribute Concert at Tanglewood on PBS. He has performed his own song and dance show throughout the country and most notably at Lincoln Center. His debut album “The Floor Above Me” is available everywhere. Next up, Tony will be seen on the new Ryan Murphy series “American Sports Story: Gladiator” this September on FX.

About Shavon Lloyd
Shavon Lloyd is an award-winning composer, baritone, conductor, and music educator. As a young musician, Shavon has already had the opportunity to perform for a wide variety of audiences and compose for numerous ensembles from K-12 to professional groups.

From Middletown, NY, Lloyd began his journey as a dedicated musician in 2014 when he won his first composition contest at the age of 17. His piece, "Untitled", was selected as the grand prize winner of the Manhattan Choral Ensemble's "New Music for New York" composition contest. After that moment, Lloyd solidified his decision in studying music at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Here he continued his compositional journey under the tutelage of Dr. David Heuser, winning a second contest in Washington, D.C. for his choral piece, "So Breaks the Sun", which was premiered by the 18th Street Singers in July of 2018. Since then Lloyd has been commissioned for works at the K-12 levels, collegiate choral programs, and established professional concert choirs. Recently, Shavon won a third composition contest in July 2019, sponsored by the Orpheus Chamber Singers in Dallas, Texas. In March 2020, the group premiered his work for double choir, "Alleluia".  Since then, Lloyd has been commissioned by such groups as Cappella Festiva and The ABC Bel Canto Choir. 

Shavon is an active participant in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), contributing to both the Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Representation (BEDR) Committee, and the Composition Committee. Regarding music education, his interests include student-centered learning through democracy and creativity in the music classroom.  For the past three years, he has put this mindset into practice as the Vocal/General Music Teacher at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY. 

As a baritone, Shavon has had the opportunity to perform alongside Patti LuPone, Lisa Vroman, Canadian Brass, and other professional soloists and ensembles. While studying with Dr. Lonel Woods, he became a 2-time winner of the CFLNY-NATS Singing Competition, and featured soloist throughout New York. At Crane, he had the pleasure of soloing in Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music and Mozart's Mass in C minor under the baton of Maestros Duain Wolfe and Kent Tritle, respectively.  In May 2020, Shavon won the Classical Singer Musical Theatre Competition for Pre-Professionals with his performance of "Soliloquy" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Lloyd is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Vocal Performance degree at The Juilliard School in New York City. Here, he has performed in multiple productions, including Händel's Atalanta (Nicandro - cover), Purcell's King Arthur (Grimbald/Cold Genius), and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi (Betto). Lloyd was recently selected to be a Gerdine Young Artist for The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2023. He will be performing in Puccini's Tosca (Sacristan cover). He will also make his professional debut as Simon in an all-black production of Joplin's Treemonisha, including a world premiere of Damien Sneed and Karen Chilton's prologue and epilogue detailing moments in Joplin's life.

About Jason Yeager
Jason Yeager recently released two highly acclaimed recordings: Hand in Hand (Club44 Records) with his Broadway actress-singer spouse, Julie Benko; and Unstuck in Time: The Kurt Vonnegut Suite (Sunnyside Records) with his eponymous septet and special guest Miguel Zenón. Highlighted in The New York Times Fall Pop & Jazz preview, Hand in Hand has been hailed as “exquisite” (Times Square Chronicles) and “an impressive outing” (BroadwayWorld). Meanwhile, Unstuck in Time was described as “both complex and highly accessible” (JazzTimes) and “an elaborate valentine to Vonnegut” (Downbeat).

Inspired by the social activism and vision of his mentor, Danilo Pérez, Yeager released the acclaimed 2019 album New Songs of Resistance (Outside in Music), which includes reimagined nueva canción protest songs from South America and original compositions that address contemporary social issues. New York Music Daily called the release “one of the best albums of 2019 in any style of music.” Prior to this album, he released All At Onceness (called a "compelling new album" by the Boston Globe) with musical polymath Randal Despommier; United (named a Best Album of 2017 by Downbeat) with violin virtuoso Jason Anick; and a pair of trio albums, Affirmation and Ruminations.

Originally from the Boston area and now based in New York City, Jason is an active performer on the international scene, having performed across five continents at such venues and festivals as Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note, Smalls Jazz Club, Birdland Jazz Club, Berklee Performance Center, Qintai Concert Hall, Panama Jazz Festival, Festival Internacional de Jazz de Costa Rica, and more. 

In addition to his seven albums as a leader, Jason has performed on 25 more as a side musician. He’s performed and recorded with the likes of Luciana Souza, Ran Blake, Sean Jones, Ayn Inserto, Ben Monder, Steve Wilson, George Garzone, Jason Palmer, Noah Preminger, and Aubrey Johnson. He regularly gigs around NYC and beyond with artists like Fleur Seule, Randal Despommier, and Jason Anick.

Yeager was the first-place winner of the 2022 Jazz WaHi Jazz Composition Competition, for which he was commissioned to write a five-movement suite based on literature set in or associated with the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights. He was also the 2nd-place winner of the 2022 Ravenscroft Jazz Piano Competition, and a two-time Finalist of the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition (formerly Great American Jazz Piano Competition). 

Mentored in music by generous and inspirational teachers, Jason is now a committed educator in his own right. He is Assistant Professor of Piano at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught since 2012. He also teaches at the New York Jazz Academy and through his private studio. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from the Tufts University/New England Conservatory Double Degree Program, and earned a Master of Music, summa cum laude, from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.

Originally from Framingham, MA, Yeager was first mentored by extraordinary artist-teachers, including Milton Academy's jazz director, bassist Bob Sinicrope, and pianists Dan Loschen and Kyle Aho. He has since studied with some of the foremost musicians in the world, including Fred Hersch, Danilo Pérez Sophia Rosoff, Ran Blake, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Patitucci, Vijay Iyer, Joe Lovano, and Jerry Bergonzi.

About New York Festival of Song
Now in its 36th season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history, and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Each program entertains and educates in equal measure. 

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce its series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between musical genres, exploring the character and language of other cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists.

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song. Among the many highlights is the double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello and Lucrezia, by John Musto and William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008 and recorded on Bridge Records. In addition to Bastianello and Lucrezia and the 2008 Bridge Records release of Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records. In 2014, Canción Amorosa, a CD of Spanish song—Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic—was released on the GPR label, with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

Their latest endeavor is NYFOS Records, which released its first album (From Rags to Riches, with Stephanie Blythe and William Burden) in January of 2022. Three more CDs have followed: Picnic Cantata (by Paul Bowles and James Schuyler); Black and Blue (with tenor Joshua Blue); and Mi país: Songs of Argentina (with bass-baritone Federico De Michelis). They also frequently issue singles, with archival performances by artists such as Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Bernarda Fink, and newly recorded songs by Joshua Blue and Sasha Cooke. NYFOS Records has reached rapidly growing audiences in over 100 countries, with over a million streams in the past twelve months. 

In November 2010, NYFOS debuted NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues, including OPERA America's National Opera Center, National Sawdust, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the Ann Goodman Recital Hall at Kaufman Music Center, and now the Rubin Museum in Chelsea.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers, and has developed training residencies around the country, including with The Juilliard School’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 18th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 16th year in March 2024); San Francisco Opera Center (over 20 years); Glimmerglass Opera (2008–2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY.

NYFOS’s concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

About Steven Blier
Steven Blier is the Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which he co-founded in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival’s inception, he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated more than 150 vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney. NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia and Russia. New York Magazine gave NYFOS its award for Best Classical Programming, while Opera News proclaimed Blier “the coolest dude in town” and in December 2014, Musical America included him as one of 30 top industry professionals in their feature article, “Profiles in Courage.”

Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recital partners have included Michael Spyres, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Jessye Norman, and José van Dam, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to La Scala. He is also on the faculty of The Juilliard School and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Many of his former students, including  Julia Bullock, Stephanie Blythe, Sasha Cooke, Paul Appleby, Dina Kuznetsova, Corinne Winters, and Kate Lindsey, have gone on to be valued recital colleagues and sought-after stars on the opera and concert stage. In keeping the traditions of American music alive, he has brought back to the stage many of the rarely heard songs of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill and Cole Porter. He has also played ragtime, blues and stride piano evenings with John Musto. A champion of American art song, he has premiered works of John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Mark Adamo, John Musto, Richard Danielpour, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, Lowell Liebermann, Harold Meltzer, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.

Mr. Blier’s extensive discography includes the premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International), which won a Grammy Award; Spanish Love Songs (Bridge Records), recorded live at the Caramoor International Music Festival with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Joseph Kaiser, and Michael Barrett; the world premiere recording of Bastianello (John Musto) and Lucrezia (William Bolcom), a double bill of one-act comic operas set to librettos by Mark Campbell; Quiet Please, an album of jazz standards with vocalist Darius de Haas, and Canción amorosa, a CD of Spanish songs with soprano Corinne Winters. His latest release is Mi País: Songs of Argentina with baritone Federico De Michelis, on NYFOS Records. His writings on opera have been featured in Opera News and the Yale Review. A native New Yorker, he received a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in English Literature at Yale University, where he studied piano with Alexander Farkas. He completed his musical studies in New York with Martin Isepp and Paul Jacobs. Mr. Blier is a Yamaha Artist.

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