Songs From the Great American Songbook Performed on Shelter Island - 27 East

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Songs From the Great American Songbook Performed on Shelter Island

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Shelter Island Friends of Music (SIFM) presents pianist/composer John Musto and his wife, soprano Amy Burton,  performing songs from the Great American Songbook on May 26 at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. COURTESY SIFM

Shelter Island Friends of Music (SIFM) presents pianist/composer John Musto and his wife, soprano Amy Burton, performing songs from the Great American Songbook on May 26 at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. COURTESY SIFM

authorStaff Writer on May 21, 2024

Shelter Island Friends of Music (SIFM) presents soprano Amy Burton and pianist/composer John Musto performing songs from the Great American Songbook on Sunday, May 26, at 6 p.m. at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. Their repertoire will include music from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein.

According to the Great American Songbook Foundation, this music is considered to be the “most important and influential American jazz and popular songs from the early 20th century that have stood the test of time in their life and legacy.” Singer Tony Bennett has described this genre as “America’s classical music.”

Husband and wife duo Amy Burton and John Musto perform throughout the U.S. and abroad in recital and cabaret concerts. They toured the U.S. and Mexico with “Late Night with Leonard Bernstein,” narrated by Bernstein’s daughter Jamie, with pianist Michael Boriskin.

The couple is based in New York City and have had successful careers individually and together. As a pianist and composer, Musto has won two Emmys, among many awards, and in 2019, he was selected as one of four artists to receive the prestigious Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his orchestral song cycle “Dove Sta Amore.” In addition to his composing and performing schedule, he also runs the graduate program’s performance department at the City University of New York.

A sought-after opera singer and teacher for three decades, Burton has performed with major opera companies worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera and was also a leading soprano at New York City Opera, where she received the Christopher Keene Award, the Kolosvar Award and the Diva Award. She performed at the White House, as well as in recitals and in cabaret settings. She is currently on the voice faculty of Julliard, the Mannes School of Music, and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Burton said she loves teaching, and uses what she learns in her own performances.

“I am still a singer, so I feel that whatever experience I am gaining now in my performances is very useful to my students,” she said. “For me, it’s a lovely balance, and I feel very lucky to be teaching and performing, because it’s very exciting to help train and inspire the next generation … I want nothing more for my students than for them to have the life that I’ve been able to have.”

Musto and Burton often do residencies and master classes together at universities and conservatories, and have become popular on the cabaret circuit.

“One of my favorite things to do is to play the Great American Songbook,” said Burton.

Their rendition of these memorable songs constitutes the fourth concert of the SIFM’s 47th consecutive season, which will feature at least seven concerts. There is no admission fee for the concert, but donations are appreciated. A reception with the musicians follows.

Shelter Island Presbyterian Church is at 32 North Ferry Road (Route 114) on Shelter Island. For more information, visit

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