By Melissa F. Moschitto*
One of the hidden gems in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Manhattan is the Sunday Best Reading Series. The brainchild of fiction writer Patrizia Eakins (who is also Curator and MC), this series offers spoken-word performances by fiction writers, poets, dramatists and memoir writers, many of whom live locally. The most recent program also featured composers.
The Jan. 9 program - Composers and Writers - drew a healthy crowd for a range of work that would have little chance of being seen elsewhere. Ms. Eakins is willing to take a risk and expand the palette of the neighborhood-based audience and it’s to her credit that she keeps the event tightly scheduled so that we get a flavor of each artist's work.
Two of the works featured poetry set to music. Composer Neil Rolnick explored the poetry of Philip Levine with atonal, experimental ballads. He performed on a laptop computer with baritone Robert Osborne enthusiastically performing the challenging repertoire. Composer/pianist, Jerome Kitzke also set poetry to music, pairing the provocative text of Allen Ginsberg to complex percussive piano.
The treat of the afternoon was a charming one-act musical Betty and Mortie by composer/writer/pianist Barbara Blatner. Inspired by her mother and performed delightfully by Mary Liz McNamara and Anthony Moore, it was a humorous, witty and poignant story of love in the third age (see photo below).
For a mere $7, you can be treated to future one-hour programs on Sunday afternoons in The Lounge @ Hudson View Gardens. Following the performances there’s usually a reception. This past Sunday we were treated to a wine tasting by Vines on Pine, which promptly led to a visit there. (Good work!)
Brava to Ms. Eakins for continuing to embrace artists and present them elegantly and professionally, right here in Hudson Heights! (You can visit the series' blog at http://sundaybestreadingseries.wordpress.com/)
Next up: February 13 @ 4:00PM - Valentines to the Earth with Wendy Babiak and Vivian Demuth along with four cameos by Peter Martin, Gordon Gilbert, Melissa F. Moschitto and Marlon Danilewitz. The performances will be preceded by an educational panel at 2:00PM on gardening and the community.
*Melissa F. Moschitto is, among many other things, the artistic director of The Anthropologists, www.theanthropologists.org. Uptown Culture Clippings will be a semi-regular part of Hudson Heights Gazette, so look for new postings under "Culture"! (Full disclosure: the author of this blog entry will be reading in the next series, scheduled for February 13, 2011.)