Jane Austen's PERSUASION Song Cycle was originally scheduled for live performances at the NY Summerfest of 2020, with work for 10 singers and 5 musicians, music director, director and costumer. Postponed 4 times already (to the 2021 NY Summerfest most recently), we at PasticheNYC decided to create a full 9-song online production, and pay for stipends to the performers and creative team -- eventually adding up to 28 artists, including our stellar Tech Editor, Tony Torn -- being paid for their beautiful work. With no concerts, festivals or companies hiring in the near future, we saw this as a way to keep the stories and music we love out there in a brand-new way, while helping to keep our artists afloat.
Jane Austen’s PERSUASION Song Cycle was put together as a video pastiche recording in the winter of 2021, after receiving a grant from the Roy Cockrum Foundation. Our artists were in a CoVid diaspora from Canada to Israel, from San Francisco to Florida. Exploring ways to make the work as visually exciting as it is musically intriguing, we ran into some technical delays in editing (not everyone had greenscreens). After having to divide the instrumental recordings among 3 different string quartets, we decided to split the work into 2 parts and had them streamcast by CyberTank in February and April 2021, and then, hosted by TornPage, the entire work in June. Our editors, Emily Duncan and Tony Torn were fully functioning as artists in this steep learning curve. The piece is now freely available on YouTube/@pastichenyc.
In addition to our friends and family, we were hosted by the NY chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America on their website, as well as linked to the JASNA national page, and boosted by a kind curator at the New York Public library. That and the diversity of our cast brought us into many networks of people, and our adverts were seen on social media by thousands of people all over the world.
Since CoVid was by no means resolved, we went ahead with the 2022 Pastiche project, The House of Mirth Song Cycle, based on Edith Wharton’s novel. It was created by lyricist/director Emily King as a staged concert of 11 songs set to piano scores by the award-winning Japanese composer, the late Ryuichi Sakamoto. Conceived as a period fancy-dress concert version with piano accompaniment and 9 classically trained singers, our diverse cast of (then back in NYC but still socially distanced) performers bring a modern sensibility that race is to the modern audience what caste was to Wharton’s Gilded Age. As a tragic bookend to our rom-com Persuasion Song Cycle, The House of Mirth freely admits that love might still not conquer all.
With the lengthy editorial process in the works for House of Mirth, PasticheNYC turned to a new medium in 2022, the podcast, as the perfect platform for Grace Under Pressure, an 8-part radio play written for the unforgettable Alice King (1957-2022). With a powerful cast of New York voice actors safely socially distance but recorded live in the studio, Alice’s captivating performance in this simple story of a woman alone in New York in the ‘90s is now on record for all time.