NEW YORK — In a city where each week’s concert listings regularly span the genre spectrum, the iPod Shuffle Award for most eclectic lineup must surely go to Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.
Now in its eighth year, the main season’s 2006 lineup kicked off Jan. 12 with Brian Stokes Mitchell and runs through Feb. 24, with Bernadette Peters closing it out May 1 in a gala perf at Avery Fisher Hall.
Other shows include opera diva Deborah Voigt, Broadway star Victoria Clark, Brooklyn-based new-country purveyors Hem and alt-rock musicians Duncan Sheik and Fountains of Wayne, as well as tribute shows to the likes of Cy Coleman, Jule Styne and Burt Bacharach.
“Since it started, the series has evolved into a presentation program in which we try to show the lineage from the Irving Berlin era to singer-songwriters of today, like Stephin Merritt and Sufjan Stevens,” says Jon Nakagawa, producer of contemporary programming for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
“We want to show the breadth of American songwriting — not just the popular music but also country, bluegrass and jazz, which are all part of that heritage,” he adds. “By programming 15 concerts spread over six weeks, we’re asking audiences to look at and appreciate all these genres of music side by side as part of a unique American art form.”
Echoes of the series last season also were felt beyond the single-night perfs. A concert staging of Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion,” starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris, was aired under PBS’ “Great Performances” banner, while a recital of Sheik and Steven Sater’s musical version of the Frank Wedekind play about troubled-teen sexuality, “Spring Awakening,” helped oil the machinery for a full-fledged production at Off Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company later this season.
Since its inception in 1999, other American Songbook alumni have included Betty Buckley, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski, Lisa Loeb, Audra McDonald, Megan Mullally, Rosanne Cash, Kenny Rankin and Elaine Stritch.
Look out for Green Day and Barbara Cook sharing the stage next season.