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Great American Songbook concert: Duo presented by Shelter Island Friends of Music

On Sunday, May 26, Shelter Island Friends of Music will present soprano Amy Burton and pianist/composer John Musto performing songs from the Great American Songbook at 6 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.

Their repertoire will include music from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein. According to the Great American Songbook Foundation, this music is considered to be the “most important and influential American jazz and popular songs from the early 20th century that have stood the test of time in their life and legacy.”

Singer Tony Bennett has described this genre as “America’s classical music.”

Husband and wife duo Amy Burton and John Musto perform throughout the U.S. and abroad in recital and cabaret concerts. They toured the U.S. and Mexico with “Late Night with Leonard Bernstein,” narrated by Bernstein’s daughter Jamie, with pianist Michael Boriskin.

As a pianist and composer, Mr. Musto has won two Emmys, and in 2019, he was selected as one of four artists to receive the prestigious Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his orchestral song cycle “Dove Sta Amore.” 

The New York Times said Mr. Musto’s “pianism was exquisite and exploratory,” and The New Yorker called him “an extraordinarily gifted pianist.”

A sought-after opera singer and teacher for three decades — The New York Times described Ms. Burton’s voice as “luminous” and “lustrous”— she has performed with major opera companies worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera and was also a leading soprano at New York City Opera, where she received the Christopher Keene Award, the Kolosvar Award, and the Diva Award.

She performed at the White House, as well as in recitals and in cabaret settings. She is currently on the voice faculty of Julliard, the Mannes School of Music, and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Ms. Burton said she loves teaching, and uses what she learns in her own performances. “I am still a singer,” she says, “so I feel that whatever experience I am gaining now in my performances is very useful to my students. For me, it’s a lovely balance, and I feel very lucky to be teaching and performing, because it’s very exciting to help train and inspire the next generation.”

Ms. Burton added, “I have a lyric voice and the parts that I played — that my voice was most suited for — was as the sweet young thing, and I managed to eke out three decades of being 16. ”

Their rendition of these memorable songs constitutes the fourth concert of the Friend’s of music’s 47th consecutive season, which will feature at least seven concerts.

There is no admission fee; donations are always appreciated. A reception with the musicians follows the concert. 

Visit shelterislandfriendsofmusic.org for more information and the rest of our 2024 season.