You’ve Got a Friend Dazzles Audiences at the Paramount
Carlos Villamayor, Feature Writer
You’ve Got A Friend, a musical celebration of the legacy of Carole King and James Taylor, filled the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater last Friday night with the sounds and rhythms of nostalgia and friendship at the hands of Kirsti Manna and Jonathan Birchfield, accompanied by the dazzling St. Thomas Orchestra.
The night was filled with banter between Manna and Birchfield, who made their audience laugh, as well as delight in unforgettable classics like “You’ve Got A Friend,” “Carolina in My Mind,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
As if Manna and Birchfield’s virtuosity was not enough, the St. Thomas Orchestra, under the exceptional direction of Mariano Longo, added another dimension entirely to the performance and enriched the attendants’ experience.
Lisa and Gary, fellow Paramount members from New Jersey, had seen King and Taylor perform separately and together beforehand, and thought the symphony pops presentation would be an interesting take on the music. They thought the concert captured the music and personality of King and Taylor very well.
“It also sounds nice to say we went to a [symphony concert],” said the couple, laughing.
Gary and Fiona from Congers also praised Manna and Birchfield’s performances.
“It’s a great act, they’re amazing talents,” Gary said. “I’m pleasantly surprised, I feel like I’m really seeing Carole King and James Taylor.”
Fiona added they had to come early just to check out the theater, “a beautiful place.”
Carole King and James Taylor’s 2010 reunion inspired Manna and Birchfield, both of whom have been accomplished songwriters and musicians for years.
“You’ve Got A Friend” is, for Kirsti Manna, an “opportunity to pay homage to the music, the lyrics, and the melodies, that moved us to become songwriters and performers.”
For Christopher, a music aficionado from Port Chester, this was yet another entertaining visit to the Paramount, having attended performances by Art Garfunkel, Kenny Loggins, Melissa Etheridge, and, most recently, Michael McDonald.
“Music makes my world go round, no question,” he said.
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