A New Classical Collaboration
An Evening with yMusic featuring Amos Lee
149 7th Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11215
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM (event ends at 11:00 PM)
This event is 21 and over
yMusic, "six contemporary classical polymaths who playfully overstep the boundaries of musical genres,” (The New Yorker) performs in concert halls, arenas and clubs around the world. Founded in New York City in 2008, yMusic believes in presenting excellent, emotionally communicative music, regardless of style or idiom. “One of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music,” (Fred Child, NPR’s Performance Today) their virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Paul Simon to Bill T. Jones to Ben Folds—and inspired original works by some of today’s foremost composers, including Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Andrew Norman.
Recent season highlights include a collaborative album release with The Staves on Nonesuch Records, a recording of "God Only Knows" with John Legend for the Grammy Awards, and summer appearances at the Sarasota Music Festival and Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Additionally, the group embarked on an interdisciplinary residency at USC's schools of music and dance, and served as ensemble-in-residence at Florida State University and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. In 2018, yMusic was featured on Paul Simon's Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour, performing in arenas, amphitheaters, and outdoor festivals across the globe.
To date, yMusic has released three full-length solo albums: 2017’s First, 2014’s Balance Problems, and 2011’s Beautiful Mechanical, Time Out New York’s “#1 Classical Record of the Year.” In addition to performing their own repertoire, yMusic serves as a ready-made collaborative unit for bands and songwriters, and has lent its distinctive sound to dozens of albums, most recently In The Blue Light by Paul Simon, with whom the group recently appeared on Saturday Night Live.
With MY NEW MOON, his seventh album, Amos Lee reaches into experiences of hope, hopelessness, loss, and renewal. The result is the most wide-ranging musical effort of his career, a set of songs that examines issues of mortality, survival, connection, and celebration in ways that are both deeply personal and profoundly universal.
In 2007, the singer-songwriter began working with the Musicians on Call program, playing music bedside for hospital patients. He went on to play at VA hospitals, for the Wounded Warriors organization, and for the Melodic Caring Project, singing via video for children who are quarantined, too ill to have friends or family visit in their rooms.
“Everything about the connection of music hit me harder,” he says of these efforts, “and I thought, ‘How can I be helpful, and reach out in a more real way?’ Songs have become a bridge, a way for me to reach outside myself and into other people’s lives. My mission now is to connect with people, to still have fun, but to have my intention be more outwardly based, and from a place of giving and service.”
More recently, Lee suffered a difficult loss of his own. “My grandmother, who was the matriarch of our very large family, and the love centerpiece in all of our gathering, got really sick, and very suddenly passed away,” he says. “She showed love in the small ways—in how she smiled at you when you walked in her front door, how she made a piece of buttered toast a delicacy, how she spoke with such warmth and familiarity to her mailman. In all deeds, she was graceful and beautiful and kind. So her falling ill so quickly and violently hit us all hard. “At one point during her last night,” he continues, “it was just her and me in the room. The rest of the family left, because the doctor told my mother and me that they thought she was stable, but then something went wrong, and she started to fade very quickly. It was around 4:30 in the morning, she was fighting for breath, sweating, and fighting for her life. I stood with her, and held her hand, hoping that she could hear me. I felt totally helpless, and while I wiped away the sweat from her forehead, and words all felt worthless, I started to sing to her. I sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ ‘What a Wonderful World,’ and my grandfather’s favorite song, ‘Born to Lose.’ She looked up at me and smiled a faint smile before she drifted into her final sleep. A couple of the overnight nurses were standing in the doorway, and in a very tragic moment, we all shared a breath. It’s in these moments that I realize how sacred music is, and how the world, which seems in such disarray, can find simple solace and connection in the light of song.” This incident informs much of MY NEW MOON; Lee points particularly to the tracks “All You Got is a Song” and “Hang On, Hang On.” But, he points out, the album is as much about other people’s stories as it is his own. “All this work in the last decade comes to the fore,” he says. “I know many people who have experienced tragedy, and whether it be a friend, or a friend’s child, or a fan I meet at a coffee shop who shares their story with me, I take them all to heart. I want to connect, and to be open to those who have hardship, so that that they know I hear their stories in the same way that they hear mine, and that we’re in this together. I don’t want to overwhelm the listener with sorrow, but I am inspired by these friends and families, and want to help their light find shape.”
Much of Lee’s recent work bore the stamp of strong producers—Joey Burns of Calexico on 2011’s Mission Bell (which debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200, Amazon, and iTunes charts, and spun off a hit single with "Windows are Rolled Down") and Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Eric Church, Cage the Elephant) on 2013’s Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song. But for his last album, 2016’s Spirit, Lee took over the helm. “Producing my last album was cool, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” he says, “but after I did it, I realized that I had a lot to learn, and that I wanted to focus my energy on my performances, and on the songwriting. For this album, I wanted to open up, and push myself to collaborate with someone who was passionate and creative and could really partner with me to elevate the album from a sonic and musical standpoint.”
For the new album, Lee turned to producer Tony Berg, who has worked with everyone from Public Image Ltd to Peter Gabriel, and moved operations to Berg’s Zeitgeist Studio in Los Angeles. Such notable musicians as keyboardist Benmont Tench; drummers Matt Chamberlain and Chris Dave; and multi-instrumentalists Blake Mills, Ethan Gruska, and Jaron Olevsky all participated in the sessions. “I’m trying to grow as a musician, and to put myself around people who are better than me,” says Lee. “I really don’t speak the technical or theory-based language of music, and there are times in the rendering of an arrangement that those skills are extremely vital. Tony was great at that. He has a very unique and progressive interest in harmony, and a childlike wonder and energy coupled with a lifetime of experience. He’s a big-hearted man, and he really helped me explore realms that I didn’t quite know how to reach. His ideology is, ‘Let’s go further left than we want and see what happens.’ “
Lee came in with fifty songs to consider, but knew that there were a few that were key to the project. “A lot of this starts with the song ‘Little Light,’ which is the story of a family I grew close with whose daughter had very serious cancer,” he says. “She’s a beautiful kid who was suffering a lot, and sometimes she and her dad would FaceTime me from her hospital room, while she was going through chemo, and I would sing to her. I wanted to write her something with hope, and to remind her that she was awesome.”
Seated Ticket: $35 ADV / $45 Day of Show (please note, all seats are general admission and first come, first served) SOLD OUT
Standing Ticket: $28 ADV / $38 Day of Show (general admission, standing room only)