December 6 is the new date for the Iridium’s gala event celebrating the life and career of the late Barry Levitt; the foundation bearing his name is the evening’s beneficiary. The group’s mission is to expand the audience for live music — through scholarships, mentoring and seminars for talented youth. The $30 cover contributes to these worthy efforts in Levitt’s name. Music Director is Russ Kassoff with Boots Maleson on bass and Brian Brake on drums.
Barry Levitt, well known as “the Maestro,” was a music director, conductor, arranger, composer, pianist, producer, educator and songwriter who worked on Broadway, in musical theatre, television and cabaret, and led jazz and big bands. He passed away suddenly on September 21 at age 70 after suffering a massive heart attack. His death has had an enormous impact on the many people he worked with and called friends. He was not only universally beloved – a kind, gentle and supportive man – but was one who touched many hearts during his four-decade career.
Barry Levitt served as president of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs and was artistic director of the Lyrics & Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. On Broadway, The Maestro served as music director and arranger for Catskills on Broadway, which he knew about firsthand, and for the musical Swinging on a Star, a revue featuring the lyrics of Johnny Burke. He was music director, pianist and arranger for the Off-Broadway productions Little Shop of Horrors, Taking My Turn, Back in the Big Time and A Match Made in Heaven.
He wrote music for film and music-directed for an impressive list of celebrated performers such as Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, Julie Budd,Julie Wilson, Ben Vereen, Bernadette Peters, Eartha Kitt, Carol Woods, Faith Prince, Chuck Cooper, Marilyn Michaels, Billy Eckstine and many, many more.The Maestro, together with producer Scott Barbarino, gave master classes, including the Jazz Vocal Brunches at the Iridium, from 2006 to 2009. These were followed by 100 performances with Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band at the Iridium, which garnered them MAC‘s 2012 Show of the Year Award. Additionally, he produced, arranged and conducted CDs and conducted nationally, including the New York, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Indianapolis Pops Orchestras. Many more became familiar with Levitt as a member of the team with Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper, playing the keys for their open mic/variety show series at The Iguana.