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.Read More
If you're expecting a stodgy version of this song from A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum, you're in the wrong place. With his typical wit and dry delivery, George has a new take on Pseudolus's song "Free."Read More
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 Doherty, Matthew Lummus, Mike Walsh, and Eric Williams.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
It's that time of year again: Time for the 2015 National Tour of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical! This is my third year going out on the road with this wonderfully charming holiday show. I'll be playing the Keyboard 2 book again, and also serving as the Associate Conductor. (I love my Keyboard 2 book; it has the zaniest synth patches and some fun licks throughout the entire show, and it's just challenging enough to keep me on my toes but not stress me out.) I'm playing my first Fox Theatre, and seeing a ton of family and friends in our Wisconsin stop.
This year is (thankfully) a shorter tour than last year. This time last year we had already had a week of tech and previews, and a ten-show week in Oklahoma City. We'll be in seven cities this year, one-week sits in each location except for a two-week sit at the end of the tour. If you're in any of the areas below, it would be great to meet up for lunch of coffee, and see you at the venue looking into the pit! (We also have one-night stops in Cleveland, OH, and Atlanta, GA, but probably won't have a lot of time in those cities.) Let me know!!
- Worcester, MA (Nov. 2-8) [Hanover Theatre]
- Detroit, MI (Nov. 10-15) [Fox Theatre]
- Appleton, WI (Nov. 16-22) [Fox Cities Performing Arts Center]
- Columbus, OH (Nov. 23-29) [Ohio Theatre]
- Jacksonville, FL (Dec. 1-6) [Times Union Theatre]
- Orlando, FL (Dec. 7-13 [Dr. Philips Center]
- Fort Lauderdale, FL (Dec. 14-27) [Broward Center for the Performing Arts]
See you soon, New York. Fah who foraze!!
I just posted a review of John & Jen over at CastAlbums.org. 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.
I recently posted a transcription of Duke Ellington's "The Single Petal of a Rose." Written in 1959, it wasn't officially released until the mid-1970s, save for one recording presented to the dedicatee, Queen Elizabeth II.
The song has been a favorite of mine for several years; you can read an earlier post I made about the song, including a YouTube recording, here.
This transcription is partially based on Ellington's original recording and partially based on memories I had of the David Berger transcription I originally got in undergrad and subsequently lost during a move. The loss of the Berger transcription was the impetus for writing out my transcription, as was the opportunity to demonstrate more of my engraving skills. I intentionally left out pedal markings, unlike the error-ridden version published by Hal Leonard, because each pianist is going to approach that differently (just as Ellington did, on different live recordings such as The Great London Concerts and The New York Concert, released by the Jazz Heritage Society). I also wanted to include the bass part, because even though the piece is frequently by a solo pianist, it originally had an arco bass that adds a different dimension to the piece.
I recently found a recording of the piece by Ben Webster, on his See You At the Fair album, and a horrible transcription of a great performance by Marcus Roberts is available on YouTube. My favorite recording remains, though, that of Sir Roland Hanna's from his Duke Ellington Piano Solos album - a superb masterclass in solo piano performance throughout. That's next on my list to transcribe; his slight changes in chords are fantastic, and the overall performance is sublime.