October Surprises

Songs For Oktoberfest, Columbus Day, Halloween & Autumn

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One of the many pleasures of American Popular Song is the broad range of human experiences it describes. The seasons have always been an inspiration to poets & musicians, and October is no exception.

Employing lyrics, music, anecdotes & literary allusion [Frost, Cather, Bronte, Wolfe, Capote] this October-inspired Lecture-In-Song is made up of a quartet of vital elements: two earthy cultures [Germany & Italy], a fun-filled holiday [Halloween], and the season itself [Autumn].

OCTOBER SURPRISES begins with the hearty Oktoberfest, an invitation to eat, drink & dance the polka since the early 1800s [“I Love Louisa,” “Beer Barrel Polka,” “Du, Du, Liegst Mir Im Herzen,” selections from THE STUDENT PRINCE…] Add Columbus Day, in praise of Italy´s contribution to America´s culture [“Volare,” “That´s Amore,” “Al Di La,” the international Neapolitan standards…] Stir in the overlapping beauty & mystery of Autumn [“Lullaby of the Leaves,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Indian Summer,” “Shine On, Harvest Moon,” “Autumn in New York,” “Moondance”…] and Halloween [“Long Black Veil,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “Witchcraft”…], and you have a uniquely delightful, satisfying sampler of the season.

Drawing upon the reliable riches of American Popular Song, beautiful poetic & literary selections as well as a few borrowed international favorites, OCTOBER SURPRISES is an opportunity to savor the many flavors of what is literally the most colorful month of the year.


If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.

Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.

Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.

In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.