Though the six-man ensemble Hudson Shad (five singers and a pianist) debuted officially in 1992, their nucleus formed in 1977 when three of them made their Carnegie Hall debuts as soloists in Penderecki’s Magnificat. Throughout the late ’70s and ’80s, their members were in demand as early music specialists, oratorio soloists and opera singers, and most of them sang at one time or another as Gentlemen of the Choir at St. Thomas Church in NYC.
In 1989, the Arts at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn asked bass Wilbur Pauley to contract a quartet to perform as The Family in Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” with Marianne Faithfull. After this initial success came another request from St. Ann’s to assemble a group similar to the legendary German group, the Comedian Harmonists, for a tribute to their music. Just before the first performance in 1992 the group decided to call itself Hudson Shad.
Since Hudson Shad’s initial performance of The Family, they have performed the Seven Deadly Sins in over 20 different productions, numbering over 100 performances worldwide, with (partial listing): NY Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien, Toronto Symphony, and Orchestra Regionale di Toscana. They participated in a staging of the work, in a double bill with Weill’s Der Lindbergflug, at the Macerata Festival. They have twice recorded the work, once with Masur and the NY Philharmonic and once with Ms. Faithfull, Maestro Dennis Russell Davies and the RSO-Wien. Other orchestra appearances by Hudson Shad have featured more Weill: “Kleine Mahagonny” with the St.Paul Chamber Orchestra, and “Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny” at the Salzburg Festival. The Schubert bicentennial found Hudson Shad returning to the NY Philharmonic for orchestral works with men’s voices, and they performed Schubert songs using the Reger orchestrations with the Bruckner Orchester in Linz.
Hudson Shad has specialized in the repertoire and sonic style of The Comedian Harmonists and, since their German debut in 1995, they have performed throughout Europe in cabarets, prestigious concert halls such as Theatre des Westens, Gewandhaus in Leipzig and opera houses such as Semper Oper Dresden, Deutche Oper, Komische Oper, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Printzregenten Theatre, as well as in Germany’s largest revue theatre, the Friedrichstadtpalast, for the hundredth anniversary of Marlene Dietrich’s birth. Since being involved with the interpretation of so many Kurt Weill works, they found an ideal niche with their “Weill American Style” show that they debuted in Berlin and performed in Chicago, New York and at the Weill Festival in the composer’s birthplace of Dessau. In 1999 Hudson Shad was featured on Broadway in a musical tribute to the Comedian Harmonists: Band in Berlin. They have also been guests on Prairie Home Companion, NPR Radio, Fresh Air and in numerous TV and Radio appearances in Germany.
Hudson Shad has always been interested in exploring many genres of music which lead them to develop a wide variety of programs. They have developed a Cowboy program that features film music and various country western hits spanning many decades. In addition they have a Christmas program including Spike Jones’ version of The Nutcracker, and a “Crooner” program that highlights “Ratpack” repertoire from Sinatra, Martin, Crosby and Astaire.
Other guest appearances include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as the “Wild Things” in Oliver Knussen/Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Stravinsky’s Renard with Charles Dutoit and Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, more Kurt Weill in Rome, Linz, Paris and Zagreb with Marianne Faithfull as well as guest artists of the US State Department with a two week tour of Japan.