Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Many Sounds of Salvatore Diana

Salvatore Diana
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

Richard Skipper Celebrates is pleased to announce a NEW New York City holiday tradition, The Many Sounds of Christmas.  This year’s addition will feature The Salvatones (vocal ensemble), New York Virtuosi (String Ensemble), Stephen Fraser (Organist), all under the direction of Daniel Brondel.
RESERVE TODAY!  I would LOVE to see you! Call me for details 845-365-0720 Showtime 4:00 at Historic St. Peter’s Church 22 Barclay Street on December 21st. See their promo HERE.

I am very excited about this upcoming show. I am encouraging all my fans, friends, family, and fellow
entertainers will join me as we celebrate the past year and the promise of the next.
Salvatore Diana and I sat down yesterday to talk about his body of "worth".
Salvatore was drawn to music from a very early age. He started singing around the age of twelve as a soloist. First, in his church and then singing in group ensembles. This continued through his high school years. He started performing in shows and musicals. In college, he really started getting into the classical end of things, beginning with him getting his vocal training.
From a very early age, Salvatore was fascinated with how the human voice can make so many different sounds and effect so many different moods and styles and how personal an instrument is the voice in expressing many different emotions. That fascination has continued to be cultivated through all of Salvatore's educational and professional experiences.
College is where it really became cemented in the classical arena where his passion for the vocal arts was firmly cemented.
Salvatore Diana has been firmly entrenched in this profession for twenty years. He started getting hired for various things, whether it was an opera performance, or performing as a singer for hire, both as a soloist and as a choral singer, as well.
What does Salvatore do when he needs a little "nonsense" in his life?
Recently Charles Truenski interviewed Salvatore and asked him a similar question in a different way. Charles actually asked Salvatore what he did for fun and what he does to relax.  
Singing is definitely a part of that, albeit may be a different type of singing. Although classical music is his staple, he HAS performed musical theatre and he just loves to sing show tunes and has a lot of fun singing piano bar type stuff. That's a way of letting his hair down and have some fun.
What does Salvatore desire more than anything?
What he desires more than anything is to be able to make music
without having to worry about a lot of the little "particulars" and details beyond the artistry.
It is never not about money, of course. Salvatore went into the non profit world with The Salvatones because he believes in the mission of what they are doing and there's a lot of work to do in terms of rallying the community to get support. Salvatore's dream is that they don't have to convince people of the value of the arts, that it just makes sense to people that we should have it as part of our every day life. That is where they came up with their mission that vocal music will become vital, that it is something we cannot do without, like utilities, electricity, running water; that people need the arts in their lives and that we don't need to spend time convincing them. If that happens, then it will be a lot easier to just "worry" about making music. That would be a great problem to have!
The subtext of all of Salvatore's music is about communicating. Singing is just another form of communication. The communication is always driven by the piece being performed. Salvatore's subtext is reaching people. He loves looking out and seeing eyes looking back at him and making a connection. Getting that knowing glance from across the hall, he knows that person has been reached and touched and they have received whatever they were hoping to get from that performance. He is happy to know that they are walking away satisfied and fulfilled.

The Many Sounds of Christmas   
For a while, Salvatore lived downtown. He was living there during a period of renewal. Most of us New Yorkers know firsthand the devastation of 9/11. Over the course of the last ten plus years, it has been all about rebuilding and renewal. Salvatore was there to witness most of it. He sees a community who is looking for something more. It may not be saying that it is looking for "something", but there is a lot more of a residential community being built there. There is an even larger business presence, even beyond the financial factor that is well established there. Everything is undergoing a boom right now, but one thing that IS missing is a presence of the arts. There are some well established art institutions downtown, but it is nowhere near what is going on in midtown with both Broadway and the classical music scene. It is all a perfect storm in a way.Salvatore desired to see what kind of a classical experience he could bring downtown. He has a lot of good friends, both business and professional, who are downtown. He also has a great relationship with the Pastor of St. Peter's Church at 22 Barclay Street. Salvatore shared with him that he wanted to create something to offer to the community there. At the same time, Salvatore came in contact with the string orchestra, New York Virtuosi, who are putting a fresh face on classical music. They bring a great energy and Salvatore loves the way they present themselves to the world. Really, all of this started coming together. They said to each other, "If we're going to do this, Christmas music is something that is very special, and Christmas is something very special in New York City." Anyone who
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church (Manhattan)
either lives here or has visited here at this time of year KNOWS that there is this kind of intangible energy and good feeling that one gets walking around in the city with all the lights and all the people walking around. Downtown, Salvatore feels, is an opportunity to bring something new and different, something new for the holidays for the residents and people who work there and also the people visit. That is how The Many Sounds of Christmas was born.
Is Salvatore Diana absolutely sure that he is doing what he should be doing at this point in his life. He is about as sure as anyone could be!
It is natural for anyone to question whether or not they are maximizing their potential. The fact that The Many Sounds of Christmas fell into place relatively quickly, with all the parties involved, tells Salvatore that they are on the right track, that this is what he should be doing.
New York Virtuosi
All of the singers in The Salvatones are paid. They are all professional singers. In order to make a living, they all have to piece together a lot of different work in this freelance world of singing. Some are singing jobs, some are teaching jobs. They may have a few other side jobs, like temp jobs or the service industry somewhere. That is an unfortunate state of affairs because it taxes these singers from an energy standpoint. It would be great if we could pay singers what they are truly worth. That would really improve the production over all.
There is somewhat of a double standard for instrumentalists vs. singers. Part of The Salvatones' mission is to show the value of how hard singers work and what they are worth.
Even though The Many Sounds of Christmas has not happened yet, Salvatore cannot imagine this NOT happening. Even though the first performance of the first year has not happened, Salvatore really believes this to be an annual tradition in the making. His hope is that on December 23rd, the downtown community will be glad that there is another one coming next year.
From a rehearsal standpoint, the singers work really hard. They work from both an artistic and technical standpoint. Much like the ballet, there are a lot of exercises that are done to prepare themselves physically and structurally. They do this in a very thoughtful way. They are constantly adding things as they are building themselves up to the performance. They are polishing and finishing up till showtime.
Daniel Brondel
The three founders, Salvatore, Daniel Brondel (who is the artistic director), and Joanna Johnston, had sung in different groups together and in different combinations. They were all in a place in their lives where they desired to create a different type of vocal singing experience. A type of vocal ensemble where they were gathering really solid vocal artists who could sing as soloists but also have the ability to work as an ensemble.
Daniel is a "right brain, left brain" type of director. It is very much a part of his preparation process. He is very thoughtful about his approach in preparing the singers, both from an exercise standpoint, in terms of building specific exercises that help instill certain "best practices" and then in terms of adding that layer of polish to a piece, that layered "finish", those little details that really makes a difference. He is extremely diligent in his preparation. Anyone who would ever desire to sit in on a rehearsal would be quite fascinated about the painstaking care and detail that they ALL take. Part of his leadership is also part of the ability of the singers to be able to partake of the process.
The Salvatones have been together for about five years now. They have just recently converted into their non profit status.
The Salvatones have maintained a very strong core in the DNA of who they are which are the vocal sounds that they produce, the process that they go through to get there, selecting the right singers that have the vocal talent (including a strong sense of professionalism and the right attitude), the ability to work as a group.
All of those things are still very strong today. What has changed, Salvatore thinks is, by virtue of adopting this mission of theirs, (which is to foster greater appreciation and wider accessibility of vocal music to the arts), really drives their reason for being. They really desire to bring new audiences, not just to themselves, but to the arts scene. That is a common refrain that all performing groups are trying to accomplish.
This is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. The Salvatones feel that they have a unique ability to potentially help with that objective because of the cross over nature of their group. They are all classically trained, but a lot of their repertoire is very accessible. The Christmas songs that will be performed at The Many Sounds of Christmas will not be the classical favorites that people know, although there a few. By and large, the other repertoire that they perform is on their CD to be released next month. That music is different in that it represents quite an eclectic repertoire that covers vocal standards and is very accessible. You don't need to know anything about music or about vocal singing to appreciate it. That is really what they are trying to do with this industry, make it really accessible and remove a lot of mystery and make people entertained and show more people just how powerful and uniting music can be.

The advice that Salvatore would impart to anyone desiring to create a similar type of concert is to have a very clear idea of what you hope to achieve and the audience you desire to attract. Make sure that you are true to who you are and what you do. You never want to change who you are and what you do for anything. People can sense that. People know when you are not authentic and not true to yourself. People, inversely, respond to things that are honest and truthful. Make sure that any successful endeavor is a coming together of what the world needs and what you do best.
Find what those two things are you will have a great recipe for success.
The Many Sounds of Christmas is perfectly timed at 75 minutes without an intermission. They see it as a complete uninterrupted experience. The goal was not to make it too long. On Sunday afternoon, December 21st, the show is at 4PM. Still time to go to an early dinner. Same thing on Monday evening, December 22nd, after a 7PM show. Even though there are multiple performers, this is not "chunks" of performers lumped together. There will not be a "chunk" of organ music followed by a chunk of vocal music followed by a chunk of string music. Everything is interwoven and everything flows together. There will be sections of music defined by theme and mood verses instrumentation, thus the many sounds of Christmas! It is not a layer cake. It is more of a nice hearty soup.
We have covered Salvatore's vocal music background. There is another side to Salvatore, perhaps to be covered in another blog at sometime.
He works in the advertising industry. A lot of people look at him quizzically. He has this artistic musical side. Then, the flip side of that is that he works in the business world. The advertising world, however is also a creative world filled with very creative people. Being a creative person, he thrives in that environment. It is also a business that depends on highly functioning people and teams that work well together. Of course, he has brought that over into his vocal music. He enjoys being a part of an ensemble. It is very much a part of who he is.
At this point, would he do anything differntly and why?
He would have started The Many Sounds of Christmas sooner!
Salvatore's goal with all of this is to bring a group of strangers together for a very short period of time and leave all of the chaos of the world outside and the hustle and the bustle of the city and the preparations of the Christmas season and give us an oasis of calm, of reflection, of peace, of enjoyment, of happiness that will sustain us and stay with us throughout the rest of the season. I, for one, need this and can't wait! Please join me in celebrating The Many Sounds of Christmas AND Salvatore Diana!

 Q and A with The Salvatones Part 1

Part 2

Help fund Wonderful World CD Recording Project

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!
Sylvia Syms as Dolly


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                
Daniel Brondel, Salvatore Diana, Charles Truenski

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Be sure and Save The Date to see Kim Grogg on December 5th in Go Where The Love Is
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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com



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