There is nothing better than a well-crafted song, music and lyrics perfectly intertwined. Then add the magic ingredient: The performer(s) who brings it all to life through their own personal experiences, emotions and talent.
We listen, we are moved, we feel. We get back in touch with ourselves.
That is what I experienced at the Savannah VOICE Festival's Listen to My Heart: The Music of David Friedman. This wonderful concert/cabaret was hosted by the composer himself.
Who is David Friedman? A great question. You know him. Believe me, you know him. Have you ever watched the Disney movies "Beauty and the Beast" or "Hunchback of Notre Dame?" He was the conductor and vocal arranger. When Disney brought "Beauty and the Beast" to the Broadway stage, he was the maestro. Watch the "Today" show? He's on regularly with Kathie Lee Gifford, as a pianist and co-host.
He also is a composer who is regarded as one of the best modern American songbook writers.
There is so much more to this man, and his art. Please Google him.
The afternoon concert was presented in the beautiful Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church. The concert featured selected student performers from the educational wing of the festival.
Most of the talented performers I got to know from the opening concert "Death, by Aria." These young, extremely talented artists, who initially impressed me, touched me this afternoon. From comedic to tragic, these performers gave, and I couldn't get enough.
The concert was set with Friedman giving us some inside information about his compositions, and how he was inspired to write them.
One of his quotes that inspired me was: "I don't write the songs, the songs write me. They come when I need them." Then one of the brilliantly talented performers would sing his composition, accompanied by the composer himself.
Friedman is not here just to be part of the series, but also as a faculty member.
"I've been working with Maria (Zouves) for six years now. I will work with her as long as she wants me. I love this program," he said.
He works and coaches with all the festival singers.
"I work with them on a variety of levels, but mostly how to bring out their personal experiences so they can connect emotionally to the material."
I asked Stacy Trentseaux, a soprano, what she took from the experience.
"David and I had a coaching. I sang. We talked. He said, 'This is the song I want you to sing.' It was perfect. It was perfect for me, after what I've gone through," she said.
The song was "If Life was More Like a Musical." I loved it. Everyone did.
Even Friedman laughed behind the piano at the end of her performance.
There was a cute older couple in front of me. They glanced at each other, cried together and held hands.
I was touched, too, by Friedman and cast. As a performer myself, it's what we strive to do. Connect. And boy, did they. Thank you, Maria Zouvres and Sherrill Millnes, for bringing the VOICE Festival here.
It is a great addition to the art scene, a true treat.
There are more events to still attend, so go to www.savannahvoicefestival.org for a complete listing.
Kim Douglas Steiner works in the Performance Arts department at SCAD, and is a co-founder of the new cabaret "Onstage at the Lucas."