IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Feinstein more than fine at Great American Songbook Competition

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

While the announcement of opening-week events for Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts seems to have been greeted with a resounding “and…?”, let’s celebrate what the center’s artistic director, Michael Feinstein, has already achieved.

I’m talking about his talent-seeking creation, The Great American Songbook High School Academy and Competition.
 

AE auditions Teens from five states made the top 10 for the Great American Songbook High School Academy and Competition. The winner: Annie Yokom, 7th from left. (Photo Courtesy Mark Lee)

This year, the second for the GAS battle, more than 100 teens sent in tapes of tunes from the vaguely defined Great American Songbook—songs from roughly the ’20s through the ’60s, when singers and the songwriters were separate and distinct things. During that period—encompassing Tin Pan Alley, Broadway’s golden years, and the big-band era—interpretation was key. Rare was the definitive version of a song. Sure, “Fly Me to the Moon” is identified with Frank Sinatra, but Kaye Ballard, Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole had at it first. And even after the Chairman of the Board set his vocal chords to it, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis and others took a shot. Nobody called them derivative for doing it.

In other words … songs from the Great American Songbook don’t exclusively belong to anyone the way the Beatles owned “Twist and Shout.”

The 10 finalists this year were chosen to come to Indy to participate in workshops with Feinstein and his fellow judges (including Grammy-winning opera star Sylvia McNair and jazz singer Catherine Russell). These led to the impeccably produced finals program June 5 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center.
 

A&E Andrew Johnston of Bourbonnars, Ill., gets coaching from Cabaret star Michael Feinstein. (Photo Courtesy Mark Lee)

Feinstein himself proved the ideal host, sharing a song in each act but stepping back and letting others appropriately take the spotlight. Best of all, he’s a great storyteller and a font of fun, telling anecdotes and providing audience-pleasing insight into just about every one of the 20 songs being performed. (Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the lyrics for “If Ever I Should Leave You,” was married seven times. Feinstein suggested the song should have been titled, “Get Ready for When I Leave You.”)

But the song, not the intro, is the thing and Crofton Coleman of Champaign, Ill., sang “If Ever I Should Leave You” with wisdom and tenderness and an open soul well beyond his 15 years. His rendition would have stopped the show if he weren’t in the talented company of Madeline Raube (of Glen Ellyn, Ill.), who proved that sweet doesn’t equal saccharine with her take on the Johnny Mercer/Jerome Kern standard “I’m Old Fashioned.” Annie Yokom (Naperville, Ill.), brought a compelling confusion to the lesser-known “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” from “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”

And that was just the cream of Act I, where being just “very good” put you at the bottom of the pack.

After intermission, Crawfordsville’s Tyler Huckstep offered one of the performances of the night in a melancholy take on “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” Bethany Perkins (Brighton, Mich.) gave a stunning close-your-eyes-and-soak-in-the-sound “Mona Lisa” and Crofton Coleman (when can I get a CD of songs by this guy?) returned to nail “All The Things You Are,” which, according to Feinstein’s intro, was Oscar Hammerstein’s favorite self-penned lyric.

Among my own favorite Hammerstein lyrics is “Bill,” from “Showboat,” and Annie Yokom did no showboating in her stellar read on that great song. She soared while staying grounded and, in the process, earned a well-deserved trip to Feinstein’s club in New York. She’ll be performing there June 16.

Wish I could be there. More importantly, though, I’m glad Feinstein’s competition is here.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT