Banjoist Cynthia Sayer anxious to kickoff Allegheny Valley Concert Association season
Cynthia Sayer believes she has the perfect job.
The reason, explains the acclaimed banjoist whose creativity is heard on film soundtracks and in prestigious venues ranging from the White House to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, is this: “I get to play music that makes others feel good.”
The New York City resident returns to New Kensington on Oct. 13 to do just that as the opening act in the 57th season of the Allegheny Valley Concert Association with a 3 p.m. performance at Valley High School.
This time she will be accompanied by her Sparks Fly band, an impressive quartet that includes drummer-percussionist Larry Eagle, a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's Sessions band, which won a Grammy for traditional folk music; and bassist Mike Weatherly, who has performed for President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and with legend Pete Seeger.
Sayer is a founding member of Woody Allen's New Orleans Jazz Band. She recorded several ukulele tunes for Allen's next film, which will be out in 2014.
She has played with Wynton Marsalis, the late Marvin Hamlisch, Bucky Pizzarelli and John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among others.
Sparks Fly is the core group on her new CD “Joyride,” a title, Sayer says, that expresses what her music is all about: “The indescribable connection you feel when everything clicks.”
The artist says she again will try to deliver, “a fun, joyful experience.”
“My music is high-spirited and accessible, and it inspires lots of toe-tapping and often some singing along as well,” she says. “People will experience soulful, entertaining and family-friendly music, which demonstrates the surprising range and versatility of the banjo, America's native instrument.”
Her swing-based program includes American Songbook standards, hot jazz, Western Swing, blues, tango, classical, vaudeville and more, with stops to visit Hank Williams, Irving Berlin and Brahms.
“It makes total sense that the banjo is popular again. Nothing sounds like it, nothing swings like it,” Sayer insists.
She recalls a “terrific, responsive” audience responding to it when she last and first visited the Allegheny Valley Concert Association seven years ago.
“I'm truly glad that the Concert Association decided to have us back. The organization is both special and important, because they are one of the oldest concert associations in the country, and their support of live music is more important today than ever,” she says.
They have managed to continue to offer quality shows for modest subscription costs even though so many others have closed their doors over the years, Sayer says.
“As a performer, I deeply appreciate this dedication to the performing arts and look forward to making good music for them again,” she says.
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lineup of favorites awaits those subscribing to Allegheny Valley Concert Association's 2013-14 season.
“We selected performers who have been well-received. Many people requested we bring certain acts back,” says Bob Sauro, chairman of the association's concert-selection committee.
Banjoist Cynthia Sayer brings talent and showmanship to the season debut Oct. 13, he says. “She wowed the audience in her 2006 debut,” he recalls.
Irish tenor Cahal Dunne sings Nov. 17. “Cahal was here a few times before and did wonderful St. Patrick Day performances,” Sauro says.
The Duquesne University Tamburitzans, returning March 23, is always a favorite. “They have been here many times and the audiences go wild for them,” he says.
River City Brass, absent from the Concert Association stage for many years, closes the season May 4. “I went to a concert last winter, and I was blown away,” Sauro says. “Under the direction of Scotsman James Gourley, the RCBB never sounded more powerful. It will be a great performance.”
All concerts begin at 3 p.m. Sundays at Valley High School auditorium. Tickets are not sold for individual shows, but the entire season.
“We continue to try to keep our prices as low as we can. Usually, the cost of one performance anywhere else is the same as four concerts with our association. Even if someone attends only one (just over $10 for adults, $5 for students) of the four concerts, it is still a bargain,” Sauro says.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bluegrass jam sessions bring out all types of musicians, fans
- Jane Monheit swings in tribute to Judy Garland
- Black Veil Brides headline Black Mass Tour at Stage AE
- Review: ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ soundtrack leaves listeners sated
- Foo Fighters tour coming Aug. 25 to First Niagara Pavilion