World-renowned entertainer Michael Feinstein will team up with special guest and celebrated inspirational performer Sandi Patty to present a livestreamed concert, “Home for The Holidays: An Evening with Michael Feinstein and Special Guest Sandi Patty” on Friday, Nov. 20 at 8:00 p.m. The FREE online concert, a holiday gift to the community, will emanate from the stage of the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. According to Scott Hall, the center’s director of communications, “We have had over 3,000 household registrations from coast to coast and even folks from Europe, South America and Australia.”
Feinstein is the center’s artistic director and founder of the affiliated Great American Songbook Foundation. His work as a singer, pianist, preservationist and advocate for timeless, popular music has earned him five Grammy Award nominations. Patty, known as “The Voice,” is one of the most acclaimed vocalists in contemporary Christian music, with 40 Dove Awards, five Grammy Awards and numerous other accolades.
Backed by a trio composed of pianist Miro Sprague, drummer Mark McLean and bassist Steve Dokken, Feinstein and Patti, accompanied on several numbers by pianist Steve Potts, will present a program of seasonal favorites and Songbook classics. The concert is a multi-camera production, featuring HD video with stereo sound and will be viewable on any device, from any location, at thecenterpresents.org, YouTube and Facebook.
Considering Feinstein appears regularly at the Palladium and Patty has sung countless times with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in both Pops and Yuletide Celebration concerts and at other local venues, both are familiar faces to Central Indiana audiences. Before the pandemic, the two music stars were scheduled to perform together for a two-night run of this holiday show, but like everyone else in the entertainment world, they have been forced to adapt.
Over the years, I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing both artists perform live more times than I can keep track of. I have also interviewed each of them numerous times. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Feinstein by phone from his part-time home in Carmel, which he shares with his husband Terrence. Their permanent home is in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.
How did this concert come about?
Originally, we were going to do two concerts with a socially distanced audience, but it was canceled and replaced with this virtual one without an audience.
Has virtual performance become an art form in the age of COVID-19?
Yes, with varying degrees of success. Personally, I find it difficult if you are performing in your home. Also, it looks amateurish. But luckily, we will be doing one with full lights and sound and a crew. Of course, not having an audience is a huge factor and makes a tremendous difference. As artists, we have to recalibrate our brains. It’s just a difference experience.
What will your holiday concert program consist of?
As a holiday concert, it will be a combination of songs the audience loves and songs that express the holiday season for me. Sandi, as a special guest, is going to do a group of songs in the middle of the concert and we are planning on doing something together as an encore at the end.
What is your history with Patty?
Sandi and I have performed together at the Palladium and she has performed as a mentor for the Songbook Academy and has been incredibly generous. Characteristically, when we asked her to be a special guest for this program, she immediately said yes. She is not only a superb talent, but also a beautiful human being and I think I can safely say, we have great affection for one another.
Speaking of the Songbook Academy, how did last summer’s intensive go?
I thought it went very well. It was a wild card and we didn’t know how it was going to turn out. Our virtual presence was wonderful and so many people watched. We had a larger audience than we normally would have had, even though it was a very different experience. Most importantly, it seems like the participants gained knowledge and education. They got what they wanted out of it and that was what we were most excited about.
I understand that you and Terrence are moving? Where to?
We have lived in hour home in Los Feliz for 21 years, but are moving to a home in Pasadena. It has a lower level that will give me a space to store my personal archive with an amazing amount of space. Terrence found the house, which is an old mansion. When he saw it, he said, “I know what to do with this house.” He had the emotional wherewithal to fix it up. It has been a three-year project. It looks like a 1930s home, but it has a new infrastructure. It has all new wiring and everything to make it a 20th-century home, but everything looks classic and it’s quite an achievement.
Are you still adding to your collection for the proposed Great American Songbook Museum?
Yes, but I keep things that I use, such as orchestrations. I am still processing things, but will eventually send 50 boxes to Carmel that will go into storage.
When will the building be constructed and where will it be located?
Well, we (Songbook Foundation) are just now selling Asherwood, which has been an infusion of money, which will go toward the building of the museum. I don’t know the timeline because we are still in the stages of very carefully finding out exactly what we are going to need because working with the Grammy Foundation, with which we are associated, has been extraordinary because they have only supported or put their names on six other institutions. They looked at our mission and our collection and believed this is a significant project and wanted to partner with us. It’s extraordinary. We are drawing up a list of things, which, of course, will change. We have plans and drawings for the first steps, so we are definitely moving forward. We are also looking at locations of land and so it is progressing. There have been conversations with owners of parcels of land close to the Palladium.
What about the new cabaret, Feinstein’s at the Carmichael at the new Carmichael Hotel in Carmel? How’s it coming along?
The club is gorgeous. It’s moving forward and as soon as we are able to open, we will. It is the best of all the clubs I have been associated with because it is purposely built as a nightclub. It’s the first time I have been associated with a room that is literally built as a club. 54 Below in New York was designed as a club, but before I was involved with it. This one I have been involved with and is the largest club. The sight lines are perfect, as is the stage, the bar, and the sound and lighting systems. We also have a private room with doors that close and then open to the show. It’s a spectacular room. Other rooms hold 150, but this one will hold approximately 200. It’s large, but still has an intimate feel.
Shifting to the pandemic, what have you learned from it?
Like many people, it has given me the opportunity for self-examination and to look at things that drive me to reassess. I think the best gift, in the face of tragedy, that can come from this is the interconnection with the self and with a fundamental appreciation of the earth and the symbiotic relationship we have with it.
What is your hope for the “new normal” post-pandemic?
I hope that, despite the divide in our country, that people will have a deeper appreciation for life and for the planet and for spirit. I think what is happening right now is a tremendous transition where it is sink or swim with life and we have to change the way we operate.
How have you remained creative during this time?
Picking up music that I have never played or just learning or discovering. I have this amazing archive. Now, I have the time to look at music and to discover what I have and to reconnect. So, it has been a great gift to me to spend time with things that I normally don’t have the time to connect with.
Do you miss traveling?
No. Having traveled for 40 years, I don’t miss it. I am fine with it and absolutely don’t miss it.
What about performing for live audiences?
That is the reason for me to connect with other people and the physical resonance of connecting with live audiences is an important element, so I do miss that.
Are you able to achieve gratitude during these troubled times?
Maya Angelou once said the most important time to have gratitude is when things are not going well. It’s easy to have gratitude when things are going well, but it is essential to have gratitude when there are trials and travails. That is the time when we need gratitude the most.
For more information about “Home for The Holidays: An Evening with Michael Feinstein and Special Guest Sandi Patty,” visit thecenterpresents.org.