Jazz virtuoso Dick Hyman to present an online performance with grandson and other accomplished musicians
Legendary 93-year-old jazz pianist Dick Hyman joins forces with his grandson, designer and artist Adam Charlap-Hyman, and Metropolitan Opera star Anthony Roth Costanzo to create a surreal meditation on time during quarantine, with intricate paper cuts and ecstatic musical performances.
The event will be held as a part of the Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions, a direct response to the pandemic, was launched to financially support artists and nurture their creative process during these challenging times.
It is the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, and is granting more than $150,000 in commissioning funds to artists who have been or were supposed to be featured at Works & Process. Artists from a wide variety of genres have been commissioned to create new works, less than five minutes long, while social distancing, and will premiere on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (@worksandprocess) every Sunday and Monday at 7.30 pm and can be viewed anytime after.
Dick Hyman's performance is the last of a series of performances lined up for next week. See schedule below:
May 24 - Jamar Roberts
May 25 - Brandon Stirling Baker
May 31 - Dance Heginbotham
June 1 - Click Clock - Tick Tock by Dick Hyman - Composer / Pianist, Anthony Roth Costanzo - Concept / Singer, Adam Charlap Hyman - Concept / Paper Cutter, Zack Winokur - Concept / Director, David Hyman - Producer, Sarah Stuve - Video Editor and Ed Vinson - Percussion
Talking about the performance, Anthony Roth Costanzo says, "Works and Process at the Guggenheim recently launched a virtual commissioning series, and as an artiste, they have worked with often, they asked me to create a video. What should I do? Opera is among the most interdisciplinary of art forms, and as such, requires true collaboration at every turn. More than I miss being on a stage, I miss the kind of close artistic dialogue that feeds innovation, and the detailed craftsmanship that is often inspired from such interplay. While I have been happy to see so many artists pouring the hearts out to iPhone cameras in their living rooms, I have also been hungering for more aesthetic polish, and more original material.
So I called two frequent collaborators, director Zack Winokur and designer Adam Charlap Hyman, to see how we might approach a collaboration that represented the same kind of rigour we apply when not in quarantine. First, we needed a visual concept that could bring provide the requisite beauty. Zack proposed using Adam's paper cutting wizardry, a skill he learned in China, apprenticing with a master paper cutter. We decided that if we could somehow animate these intricate miniatures, it would provide a visual landscape as captivating as a well-honed set in a theater. To delve one step further into Adam's arsenal, Zack suggested approaching Adam's grandfather, and storied jazz legend, Dick Hyman. At 93, Hyman has played the piano with everyone from Count Basie to Bette Midler, and is an accomplished composer, in addition, having written the score for Moonstruck and countless Woody Allen films. When the three of us finally figured out how to add a fourth line to a call, we got on the phone with Dick and threw out different ideas for jazz standards, secretly hoping he might offer to write us something new. Sure enough, he asked if we'd send him some ideas for lyrics and he'd start dreaming up melodies. Since the grandfather/grandson team would both be using their hands to virtuosic effect in different mediums, I proposed the idea of "Time on my Hands" as a jumping-off point for the newly composed quarantine tune. We sent Dick a slew of clichés about time, and also mentioned the idea of incorporating gibberish. He liked this avenue of exploration and said he'd sit down at the piano. A few days later, he sent us a demo, having taken our initial idea and fashioned it into something sublime. After another call about how this could be fleshed out, two pairs of Hyman's hands got to work in their respective homes - Dick penned a new song as Adam unfolded a paper narrative. Dick called up percussionist Ed Vinson and had him record the ticking sounds of a clock to punctuate the piano part.
When those two recordings were sent to me with the sheet music, I then began figuring out how to shoehorn my operatic falsetto into the whimsical idiom of Dick's genius new work. As I stood in front of my computer recording, Adam began warming up his scissors. Should the video include shots of him cutting, or only the final product? Should the cut-outs tell a story or be abstract? Should we see Dick's hands playing the piano or just hear the music? Zack roped in editor Sarah Stuve and all of us got on the phone with our bonanza of ideas. Through the kind of true collaboration that reminds me of being in the rehearsal room with a skilled cast and a fine creative team, we whittled down the options to find the right path forward. In the series of calls that followed, the singer gave his opinion about a jump-cut, and the designer gave his advice on a line reading. This was what I had been missing in my isolation; this was as close to putting together a full production as we were going to get right now. While the final video will only be a minute and change, it represents the kind of layered ingenuity and interdisciplinary play that I crave now more than ever."