New York's Broadway has for decades been synonymous with the culture of American musical theatre. But it is also the birthplace of popular music as we know it today. There, at the beginning of the 20th century, began the music industry that still lays down the economic conditions according to which music is produced. In their conveyor belt-like work for the emergent musical theatre business, songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George and Ira Gershwin – ever in pursuit of the balance between artistic ambition, innovation and commercial potential – created the Great American Songbook, the canon of standards that every jazz musician must have at his command, indeed the very nucleus of American songwriting. At the House musicians of highly divergent styles will show what the songs of Broadway mean today.
No matter what Maria Muldaur sings, her 40-year-old love affair with American music can be heard in every tone. Maria Muldaur, a New Yorker by birth, made her debut as a folk singer in the Village in the 1960s. She was immensely successful during the 1970s with jazzy pop songs such as ‘Midnight at the Oasis’. More recently, she has mainly been focusing on the blues. For her Broadway programme she largely picked jazz and bluesy numbers by Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin – to name but a few.
Berlin musician Masha Qrella, in contrast, who made a name for herself as bassist and singer with the bands Contriva and NMFarner, as well as with the solo albums Luck and Unsolved Remained, will be performing Berlin’s contribution to the Great American Songbook and presenting Broadway compositions by Kurt Weill and Frederick Loewe.