(Feingold’s article appeared 10/24 in the Village Voice.)
To celebrate her 85th birthday, Barbara Cook gave a singing lesson in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium on October 18 (a week before her actual birthday, which is the 25th). That hadn’t exactly been the great Broadway singer’s intention—she thought she was simply giving a concert—but Cook, in her maturity, has become such a quintessence of what singing at its best can be that every performance she gives is a role model and an instructive example to the young.
And the young, her willing pupils, turned up there, in the guise of the “surprise” celebrity guests, from all walks of musical life, who gathered onstage, after Cook had finished her own substantial set, to pay vocal homage to the birthday girl. They made up a distinguished lot: from the jazz-and-cabaret world, the marital duo of guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli and singer Jessica Molaskey; art-song recitalist and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Susan Graham; pop tenor Josh Groban; and, from Cook’s own generation, the beloved Broadway lyricist (and occasional composer) Sheldon Harnick