Joyful Music For Uncertain Times

Third Edition featuring Bolcom & Morris

This Sunday, April 5, at 4:15!

Wine, Women & Song XVIII

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way...

For this third edition of Joyful Music For Uncertain Times, I wanted to feature our Cabaret House series, and who better to help me do so than the iconic duo (and Ann Arbor townies), William Bolcom and Joan Morris!  Bolcom & Morris have literally performed at Kerrytown Concert House since the doors opened in 1984, when they, along with many of their illustrious friends, presented two benefit concerts to help give the budding concert house a kickstart. Indeed, those concerts gave KCH an auspicious beginning, putting it on the map of the arts, and soon “the House” became an important part of the cultural fabric not only of Ann Arbor but also Southeastern Michigan. 

Over the years, Bill & Joan have delighted KCH audiences with Bill’s original compositions and with music from the ragtime era to the end of the 20th century.  They performed here this past September with two New York artists, Amy Burton and John Musto, in a concert entitled “Double Date” that was, in turn, delightful, touching and hilarious!

This past Sunday a concert featuring Bill’s music was to have taken place entitled Tears at the Happy Hour with acclaimed Canadian soprano, Rayanne Dupuis, and award-winning pianist, Guy Livingston. Unfortunately, it became one of the many concerts I have had to cancel.  Rayanne approached me last fall with this idea and expressed a real desire to perform the concert at the House with Bill and Joan in attendance.  You’ll find the promotional video they put together for this tour at the end of this message.

Of Bolcom’s music, they write, “…Bolcom blurs the lines between cabaret, classical, music theatre and even country music in his setting of texts by Auden, e.e. cummings, Shakespeare and his long-time collaborator Arnold Weinstein. The result is a body of work which reveals a darkly humorous, sardonic world view.”  You’ll find another video at the bottom of this message of Bill & Joan performing “Three Penny Things,” by John Wallowitch – a perfect nod to their “…darkly humorous, sardonic world view.”
Bill’s hilarious setting of Arnold Weinstein’s poem, “Amor,” is widely performed and an audience favorite.  I found one more video for you of Rayanne and Guy in a delightful live performance of this song at the Atelier de la Main d’Or in Paris. Enjoy below! 

I hope this 3rd edition of Joyful Music for Uncertain Times gives you a bright moment of music today and a much-needed distraction from our current cares.

With warmest regards,

Monica Swartout-Bebow
Artistic and Executive Director

A message from Joan ~
Kerrytown started with an idea Deanna Relyea had about starting a performing place as an alternate to the usual venues in town, the auditoriums and churches that held regular concerts.  When we met her at the House to check it out, we were struck by the intimacy and unusual L-shape, which we had previously seen only at the Village Gate in New York! When we pulled together the first concert, we talked about the range of talents in Ann Arbor, from actors to singers to instrumentalists and groups, from jazz to classical to New Age to improvisation, and decided to throw together a mixture of some of those performers for the first concert.

We all had so much fun, and the audience did, too!  From that day forward, Kerrytown has welcomed every variety of performer and creator in town, including artists and speakers. The profile of the House has expanded to bring in edgy acts from outside, including Europe and Asia and…well, the whole world!  From Deanna’s inspired vision to Monica’s inspired leadership and guidance, Ann Arbor is lucky to have Kerrytown Concert House.  For me, it was performing in front of an awake audience, they know when you’re making it happen, and you feel it when you’ve missed the mark.  An audience member once said to me, “I don’t believe you doing that song.”  It taught me that I can’t tell every story that intrigues me, only the ones I’ve been through and survived.  KCH, long may you wave!

A message from Bill ~
One day in 1984, Joan and I received a phone call from flutist Jill Felber; she and Deanna Relyea wanted to start a place to give small concerts in Ann Arbor.  I’d always hoped for something like that in our town.   Having it away from campus (and not affiliated with our university music school) would open a venue for local and independent music making of all genres. 
In many small towns in Europe, concerts will be staged in the same place as the local conservatory (often a converted large house).  What is now known as Kerrytown Concert House already housed studios for teaching — it was ideal, with a room for 100-150 seats (in the same L-shape as today’s Poisson Rouge in New York).  Would we help pull together two inaugural concerts?  
We wanted KCH to be where you could find chamber music, jazz, poetry readings, both classical and popular song, even a small opera — whatever is around.  We wanted the feeling that anyone in any style might be included. The first concerts would feature all these musics and more: folk musicians, jazz pianists, guitarists (even a hurdy-gurdy player if memory serves), university performers too.

We are so proud that KCH is still going strong, despite crises (like the one now).  Here’s to another 36 years!

Bolcom & Morris: Three Penny Things by John Wallowitch

Dupuis & Livingston: Amor (Bolcom/Weinstein) at Atelier de la Main d’Or in Paris

Rayanne Dupuis & Guy Livingston: Tears at the Happy Hour – promotional video

To learn more about Joan’s book, Let Me Sing and I’m Happy

To listen to Guy Livingston’s Podcast: William Bolcom in Linz – Guy Livingston travels to Linz in 2016, for the European premiere of Bill’s opera McTeague! Guy talks with conductor Dennis Russell Davies, publisher Evan Hause, and Bill Bolcom himself.

An Update from the Director

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

As a result of the latest recommendations by the CDC against gatherings of 50 or more for the next 8 weeks, it is with great disappointment that I notify you of our recent decision to cancel all concerts planned at least through the end of April, and possibly the beginning of May.  Kerrytown Concert House’s priority is the health and safety of our community, and we are committed to doing our part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.  I will come to the office now and again, but know that the office staff will be working remotely most of the time.  We will check voicemail as often as possible, but the quickest way to contact us will be via email:  While the current circumstances are not ideal and certainly concerning, we at the House remain excited about its future, and will continue plans for a terrific season next year and also, for additional presentations this summer if it makes sense to do them.

In my last message I promised that if you couldn’t get to “Ann Arbor’s Listening Room,” we would come to you!  To your right, is our first edition of “Joyful Music for Uncertain Times,” a phrase used by mandolinist and composer, Noah Fishman, who performed here last Fall with Baron Collins-Hill.  I hope that his message and his music will be a bright spot for you today.

With warmest regards and best wishes,

Monica Swartout-Bebow
Artistic and Executive Director