Thursday, January 28, 2010

THE LAST NEW YORKER opens February 19, 2010!

At last! THE LAST NEW YORKER opens in February 19 at the Quad Cinema in New York City. We filmed it in 2005 and it has traveled through a number of festivals, winning awards. Starring Dominic Chianese, Kathleen Chalfant, Dick Latessa and Josh Hamilton, written by Adam Forgash and directed by Harvey Wang. Here's the link at the IMDB, and here's the website. Can't wait!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Father, Maurice Finnell, 1916-2010

Favorite beverage at his favorite place, The 3 Guys Coffee Shop

My dear father passed away on January 5, 2010 at age 93. He was a rare human being, a witty and erudite gentleman from another era and a Teacher of Music for over 50 years in New York City. He taught Sight-Singing and Musicianship and was a vocal coach to over 9,000 students, was on staff at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), Turtle Bay Music School, The American Theatre Wing and at NYU's Gallatin Division, and also taught at Guild Studios at the Ansonia Hotel and at his private studio at home. He was still teaching until a few weeks before his death, and had planned to start again in January after recovering from a fall.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey to parents who immigrated from Eastern Europe and Russia, and the youngest of 8, he was musically precocious, and sang at age 16 in local vaudeville theaters. A baritone, he studied to be an opera singer, and sang in regional opera in his home town, but World War 2 interrupted his studies and he went off to serve at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. At the end of the War he resumed his musical training through the G.I. Bill by studying at the American Theater Wing in New York City. To supplement his singing career, he taught Sight-Singing, and was such a success that he abandoned his singing for teaching, and built an illustrious career. His students perform on Broadway, Television, Films and Opera, and include many famous names as well as others who continue to teach his methods. Dad was also active in choral work, conducting many High Holiday Services, in which I occasionally sang soprano. (I was tolerated by the other singers.) I grew up listening to solfeggio as I did my homework, and got a thrill seeing Broadway shows with my Dad that his students were appearing in. Later, as a costume designer, I had the pleasure of working with some of his former students as a professional in my own career.

Over the last five years I have been Dad's caregiver as his health issues mounted, and as any caregiver knows, it's a very demanding job, and not for everyone. Dad made it easier for me by remaining his gracious self, never wanting a fuss and spending too much time thanking me for things that he needn't have. It was a pleasure to do for you, Dad, and I only wish that we'd had a little more time together.

His funeral was this past Friday, and he is dearly missed and lovingly remembered by all, but probably most by me, as he was my best friend and advisor, in addition to being a loving and wise parent. Be at peace, Dad, you have earned your rest.

MTA: A memorial service celebrating his musical life was held on April 10 at the Friars Club in New York City.