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Curtain Up! Program

June 9, 2022 •  Cynthia Powell, Artistic Director • Eric Sedgwick, Pianist

Welcome to Curtain Up! Our 2022 Pride Concert


Good evening and welcome to the final concert of the Stonewall Chorale's 45th season. Tonight's celebration completes this season's return to in-person performances after the postponement of two-thirds of our 43rd season and the complete absence of an in-person 44th season, during which we presented short online programs of newly created virtual choir videos plus material from our concert archives.


We were less than two weeks away from our March 2020 concert Here Comes The Sun when the pandemic shut everything down, and that concert, retitled December Sunrise, became the opening concert of our 45th season, a particularly satisfying way to restart our in-person performances with a large scale concert with full orchestra. Our second concert of this season, Music for the Soul, featuring Deanna Witkowski and her trio in music of Mary Lou Williams, had been proposed for our 44th season but was similarly delayed. This concert of jazz repertoire stretched us musically and made for a wonderful contrast to our usual classical choral repertoire. And tonight's concert of opera and Broadway choruses was originally planned for June 2020, but makes for a terrific gala performance to celebrate the conclusion of our historic organization's 45th anniversary.


For 45 years this organization has been a trailblazer as the first LGBTQ choir in the nation in the late 1970's, less than a decade after the Stonewall uprising. We endured the worst of the AIDS crisis when many of our members succumbed to the disease in the 1980's and early 1990's, then through the 1990's and into the new millennium we celebrated political and legal victory after victory in guaranteeing LGBTQ people the same rights as everyone else in this country, undoing the deliberate bigotries that had been enshrined in our laws and culture.


Now a calculated, relentless, undemocratic political movement threatens to undo all of the progress we have made. As our rights were affirmed through the years we were often presented with the question of what is the rationale for specifically LGBTQ organizations, a question which in the last five years needs no explanation. Our visibility, our outreach, and our political actions are as important now as they were to the crowds that formed around the Stonewall bar in 1969.


So we thank you, our audience of our friends and loved ones in our community and the greater community around us, for your presence tonight and your ongoing support. We will need all the support from each other and from our community as we face the challenges ahead of us for years to come. But tonight, let us rejoice with each other in celebration of 45 years of making extraordinary music in extraordinary times. Thank you for being with us for tonight's celebration, and Happy Pride to us all!

Michael Conwill, Board President

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Texts & Translations

Aida Triumphal Scene


Gloria all’Egitto, ad Iside

Che il sacro suol protegge;

Al Re che al Delta regge

Inni festosi alziam.

Vieni, o guerriero vindice,

Vieni a gioir con noi;

Sul passo degli eroi

I lauri, i fior versiam!


All’arbitri supremi il guardo ergete;

Grazie agli Dei rendete

Nel fortunato di.



Glory to Egypt, and to Isis,

Who protects thus sacred land;

To the king who rains over the Delta

joyful hymns we raise.


Come, o conquering hero,

Come rejoice with us;

At the feet of our heroes

we cast laurels and flowers.



Lift your eyes to the supreme arbiters;

Give thanks to the gods

on this fortunate day.

Nabucco Chorus of Hebrew

Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate;

Va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli,

Ove olezzano tepide e molli

L’aure dolci del suolo natal!

Del Giordano le rive saluta,

Di Sionne le torre atterate.

Oh, mia patria, sì bella e perduta!

O membranza sì cara e fatal!

Arpa d’or dei fatidici vati,

Perché muta dal salice pendi?

Le memorie nel petto raccendi,

Ci favella del tempo che fu!

O simile di Solima ai fati

Traggi un suono di crudo lamento,

O t’ispiri il Signore un concento

Che ne infonda al patire virtù!


Fly, thought, on golden wings;

Go to settle upon the slopes in the hills, on the hills,

Where, soft and mild, the sweet airs

Of our native land smell fragrant!!

Greet the banks of the Jordan

And Zion’s toppled towers.

Oh, my country so beautiful and lost!

Oh, remembrance so dear and so fraught with despair!

Golden heart of the prophetic seers,

Why do you hang mute upon the willow?

Rekindle our bosom’s memories,

And speak of times gone by!

Mindful of the fate of Jerusalem,

Either give forth an air of sad lamentation,

Or else let the Lord imbue us

With fortitude to bear our sufferings!

Carmen Habanera


L’amour est un oiseau rebelle

Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,

Et c’est bien en vain qu’on l’appelle,

S’il lui convient de refuser.

Rien ne fait, menace ou prière,

L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait;

Et c’est rien dit, mais il me plaît.




L’amour est un oiseau rebelle, etc.



L’amour est enfant de bohème,

Il n’a jamais connu de loi:

Si tu ne m’aime pas, je t’aime

Si je t’aime, prends garde a toi!



Prends garde a toi!



L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendre

Battit de l’aile et s’envola –

L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre;

Tu ne l’attends plus, il est là!

Tout autour de toi vite, vite,

Il vient, s’en va, puis il revient –

Tu crois le tenir, il t’evite,

Tu crois l’éviter, il te tient.




Tout autour de toi vite, etc.



L’amour est enfant de bohème,

Il n’a jamais connu de loi:

Si tu ne m’aime pas, je t’aime

Si je t’aime, prends garde a toi!



Prends garde a toi!


Love is a rebellious bird

That no one can tame,

And it's quite useless to call him

If it suits him to refuse.

Nothing moves him, neither threat nor plea,

One man speaks freely, the other keeps mum;

And it's the other one I prefer:

He’s said nothing, but I like him.




Love is a rebellious bird, etc.



Love is a gypsy child,

He has never heard of law.

If you don't love me, I love you;

If I love you, look out for yourself!



Look out for yourself!



The bird you thought to catch unawares

Beat its wings and away it flew -

Love’s far away, and you can wait for it;

You wait for it no longer and there it is.

All around you, quickly, quickly,

It comes, it goes, then it returns -

You think you can hold it, it invades you,

You think to evade it, it holds you fast.




All around you, etc.



Love is a gypsy child,

He has never heard of lol.

If you don't love me, I love you;

If I love you, look out for yourself!



Look out for yourself!

La Traviata Brindisi


Libiamo, ne’ lieti calici

Che la bellezza infiora,

E la fuggevol ora

S’enebrii a voluttà.

Libiam ne’ dolci fremiti

Che suscita l’amore,

Poiché quell’occhio al core

Onnipotente va.

Libiamo amore, amor fra i calici

Più caldi baci avrà.



Ah! Libiam, amor fra I calici

Più caldi baci avrà.



Tra voi saprò dividere

Il tempo mio giocondo;

Tutta è follia nel mondo

Ciò che non è piacer.

Godiam, fugace e rapido

È il gaudio dell’amore,

È un fior che nasce e muore,

Né più sio può goder.

Godiam, c’invita un fervido

Accento lusinghier.



Ah! Godiamo, la tazza e il cantico

La notte abbella e il riso;

In questo paradiso

Ne scopra il nuovo dì.


La vita é nel tripudio.


Quando non s’ami ancora.


Nol dite a chi l’ignora.


È il mio destin cosi.


Ah! Godiamo, la tazza e il cantico

La notte abbella e il riso;

In questo paradiso

Ne scopra il nuovo dì.

Il Trovatore Anvil Chorus



Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie

De’ cieli sveste l’immensa volta;

Sembra una vedova che alfin si toglie

I bruni panni ond’era involta.

All’opra – dagli, martella!


Chi del gitano I giorno abbella?

La Zingarella!


Versami un tratto:

Lena e coraggio il corpo e l’anima

Traggon dal bere.


Oh, guarda, guarda!

Del sole un raggio

Brilla più vivido nel tuo bicchiere!

All’opra, all’opra –


Chi del gitano e giorni abbella?

La Zingarella!



Drink from the joyful glass,

Resplendent with beauty,

Drink to the spirit of pleasure

Which enchants the fleeting moment.

Drink to the thrilling sweetness

Brought to us by love,

For these fair eyes, irresistibly,

Pierce us to the heart.

Drink, four wine

Will warm the kisses of love.



Drink, for wine

Will warm the kisses of love.



I shall divide my gaiety

Among you all;

Everything in life is folly,

Except for pleasure.

Let us be joyful, for love

Is a fleeting and short-lived joy.

A flower which blossoms and fades,

Whose beauty is soon lost forever.

Be joyful - a caressing voice

Invites us warmly to joy



Ah! Be carefree - for wine and song

With laughter, embellish the night.

The new day breaking will find us still

In this happy paradise.



Life is only pleasure.



For those who don't know love.



Speak not of love to one who knows not what it is.



Such is my destiny.



Ah! Be carefree - for wine and song

With laughter, embellish the night.

The new day breaking will find us still

In this happy paradise.



See! The endless sky casts off

Her somber nightly garb,

Like a widow who lays aside at last

The sad black veils of morning.

To work - strike, my hammer!


Who brightens the life of the gypsy?

The gypsy girl!


Pour me a drink:

Body and soul take strength and courage

From wine.


Oh, look there, look there!

A ray of sun

Flashes brighter in your glass.

To work, to work


Who brightens the life of the gypsy?

The gypsy girl!

Prince Igor Polovtsian Dances | Dedicated to the people of Ukraine 🇺🇦

(Sung in English translation by David Lloyd-Jones)


Fly away on gentle breezes;

Fly swiftly, songs of love, to greet our homeland.

Where once we lived in hope and knew no sorrow,

Where once we sang, rejoicing in our freedom.

There beneath the burning sky the languid breezes cooled us,

There the cloud-capped mountains dream above the silver sea;

There our days were long and carefree amid the sunlit hills and shady meadows,

And there the scent of roses in the valleys once filled the sultry air with sweetest perfume.

There our days were carefree, there roses blossomed and fertile vineyards yield sweet wine.

There skylarks sing.

Fly away, our songs of freedom.

Dance and sing for freedom!

Sing to life!

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Program Notes


Our concert opens tonight with the beginning of the Triumphal Scene of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, based on a synopsis by Auguste Mariette, libretto by Camille du Locle, translated into Italian by Antonio Ghislanzoni, which premiered in 1871.

We perform an abridged version of the opening of Act Two Scene Two in which the Egyptians celebrate their victory over the Ethiopians by carrying in the spoils of war and then bearing in the victorious Egyptian warrior Radames, who is in love with and loved by the enslaved Ethiopian princess Aida, to the wrath of the Egyptian princess Amneris who is unrequitedly in love with Radames, with predictably tragic results.

At the height of his decades-long fame, Verdi was commissioned to write this opera for the opening of the Cairo opera house but its premiere was delayed by eleven months due to the Parisian-made scenery and costumes being held up during the Siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War. The premiere on December 24, 1871, was followed by the first Italian performance six weeks later at Milan's La Scala, to immediate and lasting success.

A monument of operatic choral works, Va, pensiero, which opens Act 3 Scene 2 of Verdi's Nabucco, is essential to tonight's concert. With a libretto by Temistocle Solera, Nabucadonosor premiered in 1842, but soon became known officially by its nickname.

The opera draws on the biblical account of the Babylonian exile of the conquered Jewish people under Nebuchadnezzar as the background for a plot of romantic and political intrigue, in which, unusually for Verdi, the tenor and soprano actually end up happily together. Volumes have been written about Nabucco, as it was the first of Verdi's operas to propel him into national and international fame. And this happened in his lifetime after personal tragedies: both of his infant children and his 26-year-old wife died within a two-year period. The opera that he was writing at the time of his wife's death, Un giorno di regno, was not a success and was withdrawn before the end of its scheduled run. Verdi vowed never to compose again. Eventually, after pressure from the impresario of La Scala, he started working slowly on a new opera, which was an immediate success - so much so that the eight performances in its inaugural season were followed by a staggering 57 performances in the following season, which remains a record for the number of performances in a season at La Scala.

Although this was apparently not Verdi's intention, contemporary Italian audiences found Va, pensiero especially sympathetic, as the area of Italy still remained as divided states and/or under Austrian control, a situation that Italians were more and more dissatisfied with. This expression of yearning for one's country, "so beautiful and lost," has taken this chorus out of the opera house and into our divided world, such as its performance by opera choruses in Ukraine during this time of war.

Opera choruses, of course, also provide a full-throated backup to the soloists. An example of this is the Habanera from Georges Bizet's Carmen, libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, which premiered in 1875. Tonight's performance offers two Carmens in this immediately recognizable piece.

After a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, winning many prizes including the prestigious Prix de Rome, Bizet's compositions were largely ignored, leading him to earn a living mostly by arranging and transcribing the music of others. His operas Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth were not immediate successes. Carmen also was received poorly enough to convince Bizet that it was a failure, and he had the misfortune of dying at only 38 years old, just three months after Carmen premiered, never to know of its eventual and lasting critical and popular acclaim.


Opera choruses sing at their work, as in the Anvil Chorus, as well as while drinking, as in the Brindisi from Verdi's La Traviata, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils, which premiered in 1853.


In the remarkable two years of 1852-1853 Verdi produced the aforementioned trio of masterpieces: Rigoletto, an immediate success, then Il Trovatore, an immediate success, then La Traviata, an initial failure. Verdi made a few revisions and the work was a success in its second production. As usual Verdi ran afoul of the censors, this time due to a courtesan as the lead character, and to satisfy audience sensibilities the opera initially was not performed as a contemporary piece in contemporary dress as Verdi specified but placed a century earlier.

At a party at Violetta's house impetuous young tenor Alfredo sings of love but Violetta sings that everything is folly except for pleasure. "Speak not of love to one who knows not what it is," says Violetta, but that situation changes drastically in the next three acts.

We sing the famous Anvil Chorus from Verdi's Il Trovatore (The Troubadour), with a libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, completed by Leone Emanuele Bardare, based on the play El Trovador by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez.

Il Trovatore is the second in a trio of operas Verdi produced in 1852-1853, between Rigoletto and La Traviata, all of which are staples of the Italian repertoire. In contrast to the drawing-room tragedy of La Traviata and the father/daughter tragedy of Rigoletto, the sweeping melodrama of Il Trovatore features multiple murders and murderous revenge in two directions, a woman burned alive at the stake, child abduction and murder, a near-fatal duel, plus a woman abducted before entering a convent which sets off an armed conflict, and a rush to burn another woman at the stake which leads to another armed conflict. It all crashes to an end when the soprano dies of self-administered poison, the tenor is beheaded, the mezzo reveals the terrible secret that binds them all together and then drops dead, which leaves the now-cognizant baritone bellowing "And I still live!" Curtain.

The second act opens with the Anvil Chorus, in the gypsy camp where the duel-wounded troubadour is being nursed to health by his revenge-driven mother as the gypsies sing at their work.

A hauntingly atmospheric offstage chorus of sopranos and tenors are featured in the Humming Chorus from Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly, libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long, which was based on stories told by his sister Jennie Correll and the novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti. Long’s version was dramatized by David Belasco as the one-act play Madame Butterfly, A Tragedy of Japan, which Puccini saw in London in 1900. The La Scala premiere in 1904 was received poorly and was subsequently revised four times in successive productions. The fifth revision from 1907 remains the version generally performed.

The Humming Chorus occurs as Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly) sits up all night watching the harbor where her American naval officer husband's ship has docked, awaiting his return without knowing that he has married the "real American wife" he referenced before marrying her, with the same attitude towards this fifteen-year-old Japanese girl as he had for his rental house in Nagasaki, and that he has returned to take the child of their union from her and back to America.

We close our opera selections with excerpts from the Polovtsian Dances from Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor, libretto by Borodin based on a scenario by Vladimir Stasov, drawn from the ancient Russian epic The Lay of Igor’s Host with additional material from medieval Kievan chronicles, completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov and eventually presented in 1890.

Borodin was not a composer by profession, regarding medicine and science as his primary occupations and only practicing music and composition in his spare time or when he was ill. He made important early contributions to organic chemistry and was a promoter of education in Russia, especially in championing education for women; he founded the School of Medicine for Women in St. Petersburg where he taught until 1885.

Borodin started working on Prince Igor in 1869, and continued working on it off and on for almost eighteen years. One of the first pieces written for the opera was the Polovtsian Dances, which were presented in concert in 1879. He died suddenly in 1887 leaving the opera incomplete, which was then edited and completed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.

The excerpt we perform tonight is the Gliding Dance of the Maidens. Like Va, pensiero, in this piece the chorus of enslaved people sing of the beloved homeland they've been abducted from. For our performance tonight we have tweaked the words of the English singing translation slightly at the end to sing to freedom rather than to praise the Khan who enslaved everyone singing.

This sinuous melody was used in the 1953 musical Kismet, to the text "Stranger in Paradise." The score of Kismet is drawn from Borodin's compositions, which won him a posthumous Tony award in 1954.

Notes from Michael Conwill

It's a Grand Night for Singing (Rodgers and Hammerstein, arr. Jerry Rubino)

The beloved duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote only one musical that went directly to the movies, State Fair. The most famous and enduring song from that movie is It’s a Grand Night for SingingState Fair was later adapted for the stage, and the Washington Post’s review of a 1995 production describes it this way: “The plot – a family of four’s trip to the Iowa State Fair results in blue ribbons for Ma’s mincemeat and Pa’s prize pig, and unexpected romances for Brother and Sister – is not exactly earth-shattering, but the songs … possess that effortless blend of words and music that sends audiences humming out into the night.” The song also gave its title to A Grand Night for Singing, a 1993 Broadway revue of R & H hits from their many productions. The exuberant song keeps us humming, and we hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Notes from Janet Zaleon 

Jonathan David Larson (February 4, 1960 – January 25, 1996) was an American composer, lyricist and playwright most known for the musicals Rent (1996) and Tick, Tick…Boom! (1990). His life’s work reveals the dimensions of class, race, substance use, pandemic illness, sex work, and trans/homophobia in the United States. At times he drew inspiration from HIV/AIDS+ queer mutual aid communities formed during the 1980’s in New York, having lost a close friend to the illness. His sexuality is not publicly known, he is sometimes described as gay and other times as heterosexual. The trailblazing work Rent of which the song Seasons of Love is from, revamped the contemporary rock musical of its time. Inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohéme, the world of the opera is reset in the rough and tumble landscape of NYC in the 80s, paralleling the illness of Tuberculosis suffered by the characters of the opera with characters who are HIV/AIDS positive.


Much like the figures in his beloved musicals, Larson died quite young, ten days before his 36th birthday- passing on the day of the first off-Broadway preview of the performance of Rent from a heart related complication. He never got to see the fully staged performance premier on the Broadway stage. Despite his untimely death, he posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, and New York Dramatic Critics’ Circle award for Rent in 1996. In 2005 the musical was adapted for the screen withstanding the test of time, and providing much needed BIPOC representation of genderfluidity in cinema for a new generation of young people. The film allowed access to rock musicals outside of the theatre, bridging the gap of the expensive show ticket, into the mainstream.


The first time I saw Rent, was via a film DVD rented from my local library. I was in high school- delicately awkward and still forming notions around my queer/POC identity through my love for musicals. It quickly became a film I would watch on repeat, and a favorite soundtrack that I would shamelessly belt out loud. It was intersectional before intersectional was a thing. As for many queer kids of my generation this musical shaped my sense of self, community and what love could be, whether it be platonic, romantic or both. There are also parallels regarding our current COVID-19 pandemic, and how many of the inequalities and struggles faced by the characters still continue to persist. One suggestion Larson posed as a question remains ever-present, “How about love?”

Notes from jess saldaña

Stephen Sondheim (March 22, 1930 – November 26, 2021) was an American composer, songwriter and lyricist. One of the most important figures in twentieth-century musical theater, Sondheim was credited for having reinvented the American musical with shows that tackled unexpected themes that range far beyond the genre's traditional subjects, with music and lyrics of unprecedented complexity and sophistication. His shows addressed darker, more harrowing elements of the human experience, with songs often tinged with ambivalence about various aspects of life. 

Sondheim began his career by writing the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), before eventually devoting himself solely to writing both music and lyrics. His best-known works include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987).

Sondheim's numerous accolades include eight Tony Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2008), an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has a theater named for him both on Broadway and in the West End of London. Film adaptations of Sondheim's work include West Side Story (1961), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Into the Woods (2014), and West Side Story (2021).

Learning of his death, Barbra Streisand was quick to comment on social media of her appreciation for the composer behind such Broadway landmarks as CompanySweeney ToddFollies, A Little Night MusicSunday in the Park With GeorgeMerrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods and Assassins: “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics,” Streisand wrote on Twitter.

John-Charles Kelly, baritone in the Stonewall Chorale who played Sweeney Todd, recalls "One night, in our production of SWEENEY, the Judge's body refused to slide down to the pie shop, so I literally pushed him down the chute!" He also reminisces, "In my favorite show, FOLLIES, we were doing an "all-star" production including Maxine Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, who could remember every lyric the Andrews Sisters ever sang, but was having trouble remembering Sondheim. My husband, the Director, thought up using TV cue cards in the orchestra pit with the lyrics written on them! Great idea - until the night the man turning the cards dropped them!" and "Same show, FOLLIES, different production - this time with Patrice Munsel, the youngest diva from the Met. She was "Carlotta" and sang I'm Still Here. As she hit the high note of the song, she threw back her head - and her wig came off! She held the note, reached back, put her wig back on properly, and finished with a "Ta-Da"! The audience went crazy!"

Elaine Paige, who worked on Broadway with Sondheim in Follies and Sweeney Todd, called him a “dear man” and “one of the most important musical theater giants of his generation.”

Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics stand as milestones in the world of American musical theater. Some of his best-loved songs from acclaimed shows are included in this extended choral medley, artfully arranged by Mac Huff.


The Stonewall Chorale is proud to dedicate this performance to Sondheim’s memory.


Notes from Wikipedia and John-Charles Kelly, compiled by Cynthia Powell 


You Will Be Found

Benj Pasek (June 9, 1985) and Justin Paul (January 3, 1985) work together as the Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriting team known as Pasek and Paul, lending their talents to musical theater, television programming and film. Beginning their collaboration as freshmen attending the University of Michigan, they made their NYC debut in the form of a benefit concert of their original works. They also contributed to the 2006 off-Broadway musical, White Noise: A Cautionary Musical, which won Talkin' Broadway's 2006 Summer Theatre Festival for Outstanding Original Score. This all took place before both of them had completed their BFA degrees in musical theater, which they did in December of 2006. Among their numerous hit collaborations is their musical, Dear Evan Hansen, which was inspired by the death of Pasek's fellow high school student. The show features a book by Steven Levenson, was directed by Michael Greif, and starred Ben Platt in the lead role for its premiere in July of 2015 and its later Off-Broadway and Broadway debuts in 2016. The show would go on to win six awards at the 71st Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score for Pasek and Paul, and Best Musical Theater Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards. 


One of the most well-known songs from the show, You Will Be Found was originally written as a replacement for another song that once closed the first act of the original 2016 production. At this moment in the show, the title character is giving a speech of hope to his schoolmates. The speech then goes viral when someone posts it on social media, allowing the song within the arc of the show to build into a moving and resounding chorus anthem. The song has been recorded by numerous artists since, and gained additional renewed attention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it provided many with a sense of hope and connection in the midst of unprecedented global difficulty.

Notes from Emily McSpadden

You'll Never Walk Alone

“In 1909, the Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnàr debuted his new play, Liliom, in Budapest. In the play, Liliom, a troubled and periodically violent young carousel barker, falls in love with a woman named Julie. When Julie becomes pregnant, Liliom attempts a robbery to support his burgeoning family, but the robbery is a disaster and Liliom dies. He ends up in purgatory for sixteen years, after which he is allowed a single day to visit his now-teenaged daughter, Louise.


Liliom flopped in Budapest, but Molnar was not a playwright who suffered from a shortage of self-belief. He continued mounting productions around Europe and then eventually in the U.S., where a 1921 translation of the play attracted good reviews and moderate box office success.


The composer Giacomo Puccini tried to adapt Liliom into an opera, but Molnàr refused to sell him the rights, because he wanted "Liliom to be remembered as a play by Molnàr, not as an opera by Puccini." Instead, Molnàr sold the rights to Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, the musical theater duo who were fresh off the success of Oklahoma! In doing so, Molnar insured that Liliom would be remembered almost entirely as a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein's, retitled Carousel, which premiered in 1945. 


In the musical, Rogers and Hammerstein's song You'll Never Walk Alone is sung twice – first to encourage the newly widowed Julie after her husband's death, and then by Louisa's classmates years later, at a graduation ceremony. Louise doesn't want to join in the song – she's too upset – but even though her father is now invisible to her, Louise can feel his presence and encouragement, and so eventually she starts to sing.


The lyrics of “You'll Never Walk Alone" contain only the most obvious imagery: the song tells us to "walk on through the wind and through the rain," which is not a particularly clever evocation of a storm. We are also told to "walk on with hope in your heart," which feels aggressively trite. And it reports that "at the end of the storm, there's a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark." But in reality, at the end of the storm, there are tree branches strewn everywhere, and downed powerlines, and flooded rivers.


And yet, the song works for me. Maybe it's the repetition of the words "walk on." I think two of the fundamental facts of being a person are 1. we must go on, and 2. none of us ever walks alone. We may feel alone (in fact, we will feel alone), but even in the crushing grind of isolation, we aren't alone. Like Louise at her graduation, those who are distant or even gone are still with us, still encouraging us to walk on.


The song has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin. But the most famous cover came in 1963 from Gerry and the Pacemakers, a band that, like the Beatles, was from Liverpool, managed by Brian Epstein, and recorded by George Martin. In keeping with their band name, the Pacemakers changed the meter of the song, increased the tempo, giving the dirge a bit of pep, and their version became a number one hit in the UK.

You'll Never Walk Alone is cheesy but it's not wrong. The song doesn't claim the world is a just or happy place. It just asks us to walk on with hope in our hearts. And like Louise at the end of Carousel, even if you don't really believe in the golden sky with a sweet silver song of the lark when you start singing, you believe it a little more when you finish.”

From The Anthropocene by John Green (with thanks to Pam McAllister for finding this interesting article)

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The Stonewall Chorale

Soprano: Michelle Ammirati, Suzanne Cohen, Jeanne Fahrenbach, Julia Feikens, Larissa Flint**+, Kaila Galinat, Joan Gardner*, Rachel Oladimeji, Katie O'Neal, Deb Reiner*, Sarah Rhoads*, Lyndsey Richardson, Jess Saldaña, Emma Shilliday, Ann Sweeney*, Isabel Taswell*, Joyce Weinstein, Deb Woolridge


Alto: Olivia Beeman, Alva Bostick, Erin Clancy, Nicola d'Allessandro, Stephanie Heintzeler*, Siobhan Hotaling, Grace Lazos, Elana Leifer, Shay Li*, Cecelia Martin, Emily McSpadden+, Julia Millison, Nicole Mion, Marina Mulé*, Lisa Reeves, Maya Sariahmed, Katherine Silva, Gwendolyn Stegall+, Susan Strickler, Jan Thompson*, Janet Zaleon**, Ellen Zimmerli*


Tenor: Jose Cuevas, David Fanger**, Tae Hassoun, Donald Johnston, John Kennedy, Debbie Mincer+, Bernie Mulvaney*, Scott Munson*, Manuel Ovando*, Christina Richards, Gilbert Robinson, Scott Smith, John Swedenburg,* Taronté Venable+


Bass: Alan Anderson, John Barrow*, Michael Conwill**+, Malcolm Couden, Marsh Drege, Eric Goldsborough*, John-Charles Kelly, Eric Manlapig, Jason McDowell, Kyle O'Connor*, Peter Van Derick, Steve Vasta*


* 21-22 season member is on leave for this concert

** Section Leader

+ Board Member


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Artist Bios

CYNTHIA POWELLConductor and Artistic Director, celebrates her 19th season with the Stonewall Chorale.  A graduate of Westminster Choir College, she has worked with many musical groups in the NY metropolitan area and has conducted major works for chorus and orchestra. She has served on the guest faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, led the St. George's Choral Society in NYC, and was a guest conductor at the International Choral Festival in Havana, Cuba. She is also the Artistic Director of Melodia Women’s Choir, and currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster of Temple Sinai in Tenafly, NJ. Her passion for music and commitment to the choral art is coupled with a desire to generate awareness and funds for timely causes, and she has produced recitals, oratorios and concerts to benefit Bailey House, a homeless residence for people with AIDS, for Doctors Without Borders, the Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan, and Water is Life, Kenya. 

ERIC SEDGWICK, Pianist, has performed with many of music’s top talents including Leona Mitchell, Sanford Sylvan and Marni Nixon, Broadway leading ladies Sarah Rice, Carole Demas and Debra Monk, and English hornist Thomas Stacy of the New York Philharmonic. A frequent performer and collaborator in the NYC area, he is also a vocal coach at the Manhattan School of Music and the faculty collaborative pianist for the Tanglewood Music Center. He has served as rehearsal pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams and Andris Nelsons. He is a regular pianist for events with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and has worked for Carnegie Hall’s Music Education Workshops with Joyce DiDonato, as well as for the International Vocal Arts Institutes in New York and Montreal, and for Beth Morrison Projects. For ten years he was the music director for the Junior Opera Theater scenes program at Manhattan School of Music, directed by Catherine Malfitano. On the west coast, he has been a longtime coach and music director for the OperaWorks training program in Los Angeles.

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Sponsorships & Dedications


Debbie Mincer sponsors the piano.

In honor of our superb pianist Eric Sedgwick who quietly keeps us on track and in tune

The Alto Section sponsors Habanera

In honor of our Two Fabulous Carmens.

Janet Zaleon sponsors Va, Pensiero
Because it inspires us to work for justice and liberation.

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Charles Abbott & John-Charles Kelly, Marianne Ardito, Susan Bargman, John Barrow, Alyson Ben-David, Jeanne Betancourt, Donald Bickford, Tom Bogdan, the Brode family, Angela Bucknell, Samphas Chhea, Alan Cohn, Aaron Comins, John Cunningham, Stephen and Nola Deutsch, Diane Duckler, William Erlbaum, Fidelity Charitable, Louis Fifer, MacKenzie Fillow, John Fischer, Marshall Foster, Verene Grigoletto, Louis Harrison, Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP, Stephanie Heintzeler, Roger Hirsch, John Kennedy, Pamela Knight, Beth Knobel, Aaron Koffman, Robin Krause, Becky Kurtz, Jennie LaCovey, Robert Lewis, Virginia Lowery, Tondra and Jeff Lynford, Pamela McAllister, Marjorie McCoy, Arthur McLean, Barbara Merjan, Deborah Mincer, Carolyn Mincer, Debra Monk, Elizabeth Neill, Andrea Newman, William Nye, Manuel Ovando, Alan Pasternack, Geoffrey Proulx, Joyce Pyle, RBC Capital Markets, Deb Reiner, Ellen Reiner, Michael Richardson & Ruthann Richardson, Scott Robertson, Verdery Roosevelt, Bruce Sandys, Serra Schlanger, Sara Sloan, Ann Sweeney, Twitter, Susan Ullman, Valerie Wald, Lee Warshavsky, Joyce Weinstein, Eric Weis, Jeffrey Whiting, Brooke Wiese, Janet Zaleon, Marilyn Zaleon, Ruthie Zaleon

Special Thanks

Michael Ottley, Holy Apostles

Intersections International, Grant Support

QUO, Instrument support
Jeanne Fahrenbach, Sets and design

Curtain Up! is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature and administered by LMCC. LMCC serves, connects, and makes space for artists and community.
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