The Opera Singer, the Great American Songbook—and a Trombone

It will be a unique matinee at Pierson Playhouse on Saturday, Feb. 3—an afternoon of songs drawn from “The Great American Songbook” performed by Palisadian opera singer Andy Rawn.

Rawn, a lighter, sweeter basso than the traditional Chaliapin-style boomers, is risking the snobbery of fellow opera singers who, despite the commercial success of stars such as Kiri Te Kanawa performing “South Pacific,” look down on popular song.

And indifference from some younger audiences who have not yet supplemented their musical diets with the delights of Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein and George and Ira Gershwin—as masterful over their form as a Gioachino Rossini, a Paul McCartney or a Kanye West.

Rawn, who will be accompanied by a pianist and, possibly less predictably, a “virtuoso trombonist,” admitted he is taking a risk stretching himself between the mutually exclusive musical audiences but believes there are enough Palisadians curious and open-minded enough to give it a chance.

Rawn has already toured the United States honing the concert, under the banner “Valentines of Many Lands,” and feels it’s the right time to bring it home.

The concert is being promoted by Eva Holberg, president of the Palisades Symphony Orchestra.

The audience, which Rawn hopes will be filled with both kids and their parents, will be invited into a sing-along on such numbers as Lerner and Lowe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “True Love.”

Although whether even the massed voices of the Palisades can sail away with the song perfectly harmonized by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in “High Society” remains to be judged.

There will also be strong elements of traditional love songs, including promises the basso musician.

In an unusual twist, the $29 tickets will also be included into a lottery for an iPhone X—which, reportedly, has speakers good enough to enjoy “The Great American Songbook” in all its tender and tuneful glory.

—JOHN HARLOW