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Lost music refound

December 6, 2017

A “multimedia meditation” on the life of pioneering singer-songwriter Elizabeth “Connie” Converse, A Star Has Burnt My Eye includes performances of her songs, readings from her letters and more. The acclaimed show, led by its creator Howard Fishman, is at the “Black Box” studio in Skidmore’s Bernhard Theater this week, December 7, 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets—at $18 for the general public and $12 for the Skidmore community—are available ”online here or by emailing the theater box office.   

converse album cover
How Sad, How Lovely

Converse wrote and performed songs in New York City in the 1950s, but later she left the field and moved to the Midwest. In the 1970s she sent letters of farewell to her family, packed up a Volkswagen Beetle and was never heard from again. An album of her songs, How Sad, How Lovely, was compiled in 2009 and rereleased in 2015. It reveals, as one critic wrote, that “everything we value in singer-songwriters today—personal perspective, insight, originality, empathy, intelligence, wry humor—was abundant in her music."

howard fishman on stage
Fishman on stage

An exploration of Converse as a lost great artist, A Star Has Burnt My Eye premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last year and was a New York Times “critics’ pick.” Directed by Paul Lazar, artistic co-director of the Obie-winning Big Dance Theater, the production caps Fishman’s two-week campus residency working closely with a range of students. He and Lazar visited classes in directing and in performing arts management and production, plus they have involved about 20 students in sound and lighting, props and managemen tfor the Converse show.

Over his career, Fishman has toured from Lincoln Center to rural Romania and fronted ensembles from punk to bluegrass to classical to experimental music. He has produced and released 11 albums, composed for theater and film and written and directed plays. The New York Times has said that his work “transcends time and idiom,” and the All-Music Guide has called him “an important force in creative music.”

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