Marbletown transfer
by Bob Margolis
May 22, 2008 01:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A forward-thinking Tim Hauser had an idea for recycling the music of four-part harmony groups while driving a cab in New York in 1972. Harmony singing had gone out of fashion in the '60s, but he figured that if he could get the right combination of male and female voices, there might be a chance of some work on the New York scene.

One night he picked up a passenger named Laurel Massé, who turned out to be a singer like himself. He took her number just in case his idea went any further. A short time later he took another female fare, who turned out be a singer as well. So he took her number.

Then another fare, a drummer on his way to a gig, invited him to come to a party afterwards, where he met other musicians. There he met another young man who was singing in the original Off-Broadway version of Grease.

Hauser finally had the personnel for his harmony group, which he decided to call Manhattan Transfer. They practiced together for five months before landing some bookings at New York clubs, where they discovered that their close-harmony kind of music went down well with patrons.

The rest, of course, is history. In 1975 the quartet recorded their first album, and followed up with a string of hits such as "Chanson d'Amour," "Operator" and "Boy from New York City."

Thirty years on, Manhattan Transfer is still going - with only one lineup change. Laurel Massé, the girl Hauser met in his cab in 1972, left the group in 1978 after she had a car accident and broke her jaw. When she got better she decided that she wanted a solo career. She not only has had a career under her own name, but has also been at the helm of numerous workshops on the creative process. She, along with the Peabody Trio, will headline the Marbletown Chamber Arts Festival running May 23 through June 1 out at SUNY-Ulster.

Appearing on opening night, the Peabody Trio, which has established itself as one of the leading piano trios in the world, brings to its music-making what The Washington Post calls "the romantic fervor of the 20th-century greats."

According to those familiar with arcana such as an analysis of a lock of Beethoven's hair, done in the 1990s, he was toxic. Lead poisoning was the likely culprit for his reputed stomach pains, fatigue and foul temper. The Peabody Trio must have known that he was an angry man, since when they perform his works as they enjoy doing, it is not aimed at the passive. They are also winners of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, and in keeping with Chamber Arts tradition, as winners, they will perform.

Gears switch on Sunday afternoon when world famous counter tenor Drew Minter (a Stone Ridge resident) & Friends perform the same program of early music they did at the Cloisters in New York and Washington's National Gallery.

Here's the full lineup for the Festival's opening weekend:

- Friday, May 23, 8 p.m.: Naumberg winners the Peabody Trio play Beethoven, Ravel and Zhou Long's Spirit of Chimes, plus Opening Night Gala.

- Saturday, May 24, 8 p.m.: Laurel Massé, jazz vocalist, with Tex Arnold, piano, struts the stuff that made Manhattan Transfer a legend in its time.

- Sunday, May 25, 4 p.m.: Drew Minter & Friends present virtuoso music from northern Italy, 14th to 17th centuries, on lute, archlute, vielles, viola da gamba and recorder, plus Minter's incomparable countertenor.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, $10 for college students, free to students 17 and under. For information visit For more on the Chamber Festival's second-week slate, consult our upcoming May 29th issue of Almanac.

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