Five Borough Songbook

In honor of our 5th anniversary in 2011-2012, 5BMF embarked on a bold new venture: a collection of 20 brand-new songs, all about New York City, which traveled to every borough throughout the year. Now, as we enter our 10th year, we once again celebrate the rich musical legacy of NYC with the second installment of this ambitious project, Five Borough Songbook, Volume II!

Since our earliest days, 5BMF’s artistic programming has maintained a particular focus on the emergence of new music in New York City, regardless of genre. This dedication, coupled with our mission to celebrate the city as a whole, resulted in our creation of the first Five Borough Songbook. In early 2011, we commissioned 20 composers to write one new vocal work each, inspired by places, themes, and poetry from every corner of New York City. These 20 works comprised the original Songbook, a masterful and eclectic collection that serves as a celebration of the entirety of New York City, of its literary history, and of its most promising musical talent.

“[The Songbook] is a love letter that will have the cognoscenti nodding in recognition of all that resonates, shimmers and knells in the Big Apple.”

Sherri Rase
Q on Stage
CD Review: Five Borough Songbook
July 2012

“With 20 composers involved you might expect every current style to be represented. Quite a few were… [I]nventive approaches to taking the city’s pulse were plentiful.”

Allan Kozinn
The New York Times
Review: Five Borough Songbook Manhattan Premiere
January 15, 2012

“[T]he true impact of the Five Borough Songbook was its juxtapositions and musical landscape, creating neighborhoods that are distinct but which sit on top of one another bringing out inherent comparisons and contrasts.”

Olivia Giovetti
WQXR Operavore
The Song of the City
October 8, 2011

“[A]ll composers contributing to The Five Borough Songbook are Greatly Gifted, the performances were Graciously Groomed, so as for the upcoming performances in Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, well, you really must Go, Go, Go, Go!”

Scott Rose
The New Civil Rights Movement
Review: Five Borough Songbook Premiere
October 23, 2011

“[O]n this occasion [the composers] often seemed to channel the wisecracking New York wit and the nostalgic art largely missing from Broadway for the last generation.”

John Yohalem
Opera Today
Review: Five Borough Songbook Manhattan Premiere
January 23, 2012

“[The Five Borough Songbook] is exactly the kind of wide-ranging, all-encompassing program that impressively represents nearly all that contemporary American art song has to offer.”

Gregory Berg
CD Review: Five Boroughs Songbook
Journal of Singing, Volume 69, No. 2
November/December 2012

Songbook Volume II

Following on the success of the original Songbook, we are thrilled to present Five Borough Songbook, Volume II in honor of our 10th Anniversary season in 2016-2017! This time, 20 brand-new composers were commissioned to write works for any combination of SATB voices, piano, and cello. The Songbook, Volume II will travel around New York City throughout the year, premiering in every borough to once again celebrate NYC’s rich musical and literary tapestry.

Upcoming Performances
WORLD PREMIERE: Saturday, February 11, 2017 – DiMenna Center for Classical Music, MANHATTAN
QUEENS PREMIERE: Sunday, February 12, 2017 – Flushing Town Hall, QUEENS

Songbook Volume II Composers

Songbook Volume I

The original Five Borough Songbook, commissioned in 2011, comprises 20 works scored for various combinations of SATB (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone) solo voices, piano, and violin. The collection includes not only songs for voice and piano, but also ensembles of many different permutations, providing the listener with as varied a selection of instrumentation as the range of poems and texts chosen by the composers.

Over the course of our 5th anniversary season in 2011-2012, the original Songbook premiered in all five boroughs of New York City, with the World Premiere performance taking place on October 6, 2011 at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. The Songbook was the first 5BMF program to be presented in all five boroughs in the course of one season, thrilling audiences across the city and receiving glowing responses across the board. Allan Kozinn of The New York Times wrote of the Manhattan premiere in January 2012, “With 20 composers involved you might expect every current style to be represented.… [I]nventive approaches to taking the city’s pulse were plentiful.”

Songbook Volume I Composers

Five Borough Songbook Studio Album

“[The Five Borough Songbook] is exactly the kind of wide-ranging, all-encompassing program that impressively represents nearly all that contemporary American art song has to offer.”  Gregory Berg, Journal of Singing, Nov/Dec 2012

5BSB CD cover

Released on January 12, 2012, the Five Borough Songbook World Premiere Recording marks 5BMF’s first-ever studio album. Produced by GPR Records, this special 2-disc set contains the original Five Borough Songbook in its entirety – 20 unique and exciting new works by 20 composers, celebrating every corner of New York City.

Of the World Premiere recording, Gregory Berg notes that “[it] is exactly the kind of wide-ranging, all-encompassing program that impressively represents nearly all that contemporary American art song has to offer” (Journal of Singing).

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The Performers
Javier Abreu, tenor
Mireille Asselin, soprano
Thomas Bagwell, pianist
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano
Scott Dispensa, baritone
Jocelyn Dueck, pianist
Blythe Gaissert, mezzo-soprano
Martha Guth, soprano
Keith Jameson, tenor
David McFerrin, baritone
David Adam Moore, baritone
Harumi Rhodes, violinist
Alex Richardson, tenor

Produced by GPR Records (Glen Roven, Peter Fitzgerald, Richard Cohen, Megan Henninger)
Co-produced by Five Boroughs Music Festival
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Megan Henninger and Peter Fitzgerald

Recorded at Sound Associates in October and November, 2011