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NYC: Music Of The Metropolis



Wanting to create a rich, musical mosaic expressive of New York City, Jesse Blumberg, Artistic Director of the Five Boroughs Music Festival commissioned 20 songs — themed to Gotham — from twenty leading contemporary composers. The resulting Five Borough Songbook is to have its premiere October 6 at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood.

Lisa Bielawa’s Breakfast in New York features a text based on conversations overheard in diners all over the city. A Tom Cipullo song, G is for Grimy: An Ode to the G Train is the composer’s good-humored revenge on that notorious subway line. The cycle overall includes an aesthetic balance between the serious and the less so.

Mohammed Fairouz’s Refugee Blues is based on an Auden poem about the unfolding of the Holocaust as considered from American shores. Richard Pearson Thomas wrote both text and music for The Center of the Universe, an exemplar of the one true New York City religion. Blumberg describes Thomas’s song as “a real barn burner.”

Just as all five boroughs are represented among the twenty songs, the cycle is to be presented in each of the five boroughs during the upcoming year. Walt Whitman — a notable condenser and communicator of the cosmic immensity of the metropolis — is featured in the texts of several of the cycle’s songs. Ricky Ian Gordon’s contribution uses a text modified from Whitman’s poem City of Ships.

Composer Jorge Martìn, whose opera Before Night Falls met with critical acclaim, explains why he lightly altered Whitman’s City of Orgies, Walks, and Joys! for his Five Borough Songbook song. “When I’ve set Whitman previously, I was purist about it, wanting to remain faithful to the text. But I’ve decided now to be a little freer, because there’s something in Whitman’s rhythms that works when you recite his long rolling lines but that can get lost when you sing them. Set to music, the verse can grow overly wordy. To avoid that, I trim a bit.”

Martìn says that Whitman’s writings are imbued with the poet’s well-documented love for opera. “You can sense that certain poems in Leaves of Grass are like recitative, others like arias, and that throughout, there is a big, operatic sense of pacing. Looking at City of Orgies, Walks, and Joys! I thought, wow, what a terrific first line. And the poem is so Whitman, just right out there with what it’s about. Yet for a time, I was stumped as to the right way into it musically. I was convinced I’d be setting it for baritone and piano, when I got a reminder e-mail from Jesse that we had a vocal quartet – soprano, mezzo, tenor and baritone – plus a piano and cello. Right then it struck me that using a man’s and a woman’s voice would be very Whitmanesque, given his bi-sexuality. And suddenly, after being stuck for a long time, I conceived of the opening line, City of orgies, in sort of a honky-tonk rhythm, and thought a violin would sound great. The finished composition is for tenor, mezzo, piano and violin. The other serendipitous thing was that in sketching the piece, I kept feeling like I wanted to use the Bach chorale tune, Wachet auf. So I worked it in as a cantus firmus.” Cantus firmus, Latin for “fixed song,” is a pre-existing melody used as a basis for a polyphonic composition. “I had to manhandle the chant a bit to make it fit,” says Martìn, “and I rather liked the theological implication in this context. In the end, it wound up as a cantus firmus that itself had to be worked, instead of everything else having to work around it.” That is to say, it is a cantus not so firmus. “It’s a jolly fun piece!” Martìn concludes.

Tickets to the October 6 premiere may be purchased here.

The Queens and Manhattan premieres are scheduled respectively for November 12 and January 12; Staten Island and the Bronx will have their day in May and June.

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‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’



Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.

Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.

Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”

When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”

“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.

“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.

READ MORE: ‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert

But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.

He refused to answer.

Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.

“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”

At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.

Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.

But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”

The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.

At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert



The first of 19 co-defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ RICO and election interference case against Donald Trump has pleaded guilty in what is being described as a “plea deal.”

“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”

CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”

Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”

See the graphic above or at this link.


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Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report



With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.

“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.

NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”

A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.




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