Saturday Night Live – with Brian Cheney

By D. S. Crafts – Albuquerque Journal

With all of us struggling at the least just to maintain our lives in some manner as they were in the “before time” (as the phrase now seems to have gained currency), the die-hard spirit of artists remains a force. Streaming concerts has now become the new universal venue, temporarily we hope, and the benefit is that all can participate regardless of geographical locale.

The brilliant American tenor Brian Cheney has been giving thirty-minute recitals from his home, the Star Wars studio, for the past month.  You can “tune in” at 7pm Eastern time Saturdays and be guaranteed a thoroughly entertaining half hour. It makes my day, quite frankly.

Brian has become quite clever in designing themes for the shows, both to engage a (literally) captive audience and to showcase his outstanding artistry. Last Saturday’s program “Brian Cheney – The High School Years” featured some of the very first songs Brian learned in a pre-professional context, from musicals to Italian Art Songs.

Immediately, upon seeing his smiling, animated face, one is drawn to Brian by sheer force of personality. Just as his mentor Jerry Hadley used to do, he becomes one with the audience – no small feat given that there is no audience for him to react to. You simply want to like him.

He began with a song from his first-ever stage performance, The Wizard of Oz. Cast as the Tin Man, he regaled us with the classic, “If I Only Had a Heart.” That was followed by something completely different — the first Italian art song he learned, Caccini’s “Amarilli mia bella.”

Then came perhaps the star of the show, “Mooning” from Grease.  Hardly the most cerebral offering of the evening, but great fun which Brian turned into an unbridled tour de force, not only of hilarious comic sensibility but in pouring out some of the most beautiful notes I’ve ever heard from him – and THAT is saying volumes.  One could almost see him thinking, “I’m just going to let this rip with everything I’ve got!”  And it seemed to amp up the entirety of the concert – not that there wasn’t plenty of energy to start with.

Brian continued mixing excerpts from musicals he had sung with the Italian songs. From the comments coming in on the right side of the screen, it was blatantly apparent that everyone was having a great time.

By all means reserve a half hour of your Sat. evening for Brian’s weekly concert. Live music is by no means dead – transformed a bit, but alive and kicking and not to be shut down.

Link for Saturday:

https://www.stageit.com/brian_cheney/french_kissed/80618