Andrei Strizek

Music | Musings

Sondheimas 2k16: "It Takes Two" with Nikka Graff Lanzarone and George Abud

My rehearsal with Nikka and George for this year's Sondheimas was one of the zaniest rehearsals I've been a part of. The two of them have a ridiculous amount of chemistry together, and I regret that we can only see a smidge of that in their banter at the beginning of this video. But throughout the rest of the song - well, they're both delightfully charming and goofy and full of that joie de vivre that makes this a special performance.

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Sondheimas 2k16: Opening Number

Like any good opening number of musical, the opening number of Sondheimas hopefully sets the tone for the evening, and tells the audience what the show will be about. To some extent, at least. The first year's opening number was from Frogs and "God" from Sondheim on Sondheim, setting up the religious ceremony. Last year we opened with an instrumental of "I Never Do Anything Twice" (tongue-in-cheek) and the opening invocation from Frogs, followed by Molly Pope singing "Back in Business" from Dick Tracy - songs that said, "We're back!" This year, we opened with "Baby June and Her Newsboys," from Gypsy, performed by the Sondheimas Boy Choir - here, Sean DohertyMatthew LummusMike Walsh, and Eric Williams.

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Arrangements & Transcriptions updates

Some arrangements and transcriptions - both new and old - have been uploaded, and will continue to be uploaded over the next week or so. Public domain pieces are completely available for download, scores and parts. A "pay what you can" button has also been added, to help with website maintenance.

If you are looking for an arrangement or transcription, send me an email.

Some of the new uploads:

  • Debussy's La fille aux cheveux de lin for euphonium and piano
  • Mozart's O Isis und Osiris for euphonium and piano, and for tuba and piano
  • Bridal Chorus for tuba-euphonium quartet or ensemble (I know from experience that it works great at weddings!)
  • Suo Gan for various ensembles

As always, I would enjoy hearing from you if you perform any of these. Drop me a line.

Sondheimas 2k16

The third celebration of Stephen Sondheim's birthday at Feinstein's/54 Below was on March 21st. I've been a part of this celebration - produced by David Levy & Maggie Larkin - for all three years. The first year I arranged "Loving You" for the finale; last year and this year I was the music director.

I think many would agree with me when I say that this year's quasi-religious celebration (devised by Rachel Shukert) was the biggest and best yet.

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Pastiche in Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins": an economical and powerful score

The following was originally published in the Winter 2015 edition of The Sondheim Review (Vol. XXII, No. 1), in an issue focused on the 25th anniversary of Assassins.

Any discussion and celebration of Assassins would be incomplete without examining Stephen Sondheim's vivid and at times ironic use of pastiche in this, his most compact theatre score. More than any of his other musicals, Sondheim's score is filled with pastiche and parody songs. These songs evoke specific time periods in this nonlinear show, helping ground each scene in its historical setting. Sondheim achieves this through direct quotation or metamorphosis of familiar melodies such as Sousa marches and "Hail to the Chief," or by crafting tunes similar to revival-tent hymns and 1970s AM radio hits. The awareness of well-known styles draws the audience in to the play's difficult subject matter, but concurrently distances the audience in part through the paradoxical usage of many of these styles.

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New review: "John & Jen" 2015 off-Broadway cast album

I just posted a review of John & Jen over at This is the new cast album, with Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in the title (and only) roles. I saw the show back in February, and it was stunning; they are phenomenal actors and singers and that really comes across on this recording. I wish they hadn't written new orchestrations for the album because they are too much for this score. (The production earlier this year used the show's original orchestrations, without the percussion part, so just piano and cello.) I also think that this is Lippa's strongest piece of musical theatre, when looking at complete works - funny how it is also his first piece of musical theatre.

This is a wonderful recording and one that should not be passed up.

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