Ariana DeBose is another veteran Sondheimas performing, returning after last year's knock-out performance of "The Ladies Who Lunch." Fortunately, this year our shows were on a Monday, when Hamilton is dark, so Ari didn't have to race to 54 Below after her show like she did last year. Ari's song this year was a medley of "Something's Coming" from West Side Story and "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle, arranged by Kurt Crowley.Read More
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Your task: Take a pseudo-minimalist Sondheim song and change it into one with a funk groove. Make sure to keep it interesting. Find a way that showcases James's voice and personality. Finished product: our "Putting It Together," which brought down the house at both Sondheimas performances.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
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
I was asked to arrange "Loving You" in early 2014, for inclusion at the First Annual Sondheimas celebration on March 22d. David Levy was organizing a birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim to be held at Broadway’s supper club, 54 Below. Without much thought, I said yes. I mean - David is a good friend, I’d have the opportunity for an arrangement of mine to be performed at 54 Below, and the timing worked out perfectly that I would be able to attend on my spring break visit.
And then I promptly forgot about it.
Until around the middle of February, that is, when David checked in on my progress. I smiled, said it was coming along, and then I started working on this arrangement. "Loving You" is such a simple song that I knew immediately my arrangement wouldn’t be flashy. It was not my intent to add much that wasn’t already written by Sondheim; I wanted it to be almost understated, to let the words and their meaning, the harmonies, the melody, be at the forefront.
I toyed with the idea of including a cello and a piano part, but I liked the sound and intimacy of a small a cappella choir instead. Part of me wants to write a cello part, but I haven’t had the drive. I like the sound of this as it is.
Sometime during this process I asked David how he was planning on ending the Sondheimas celebration. I was wondering if he was going to use “Sunday,” which is cliché but also a great ending. His reply: “No! We’re ending with your arrangement!” That meant, of course, I’d have to sit through the entire presentation on edge, waiting to hear a fine choir assembled for this occasion sing my arrangement.
Later in the spring, I asked my quite large class of musical theatre students if they would be willing to learn and perform this at our cabaret that we always do at the end of the semester. They did a great job with it, and we barely had any rehearsal time! It was exciting to hear the song again, and to be able to conduct it this time.
I’ve uploaded the PDF to my Arrangements page. It’s available there as a free download. I would enjoy hearing from you if you perform the piece. It needs, at minimum, 8 singers (2 per part), but as you can see in the video above, a larger choir is possible. The piano part is included to help during rehearsals; it can be utilized during a performance if necessary, but I prefer it sung a cappella. And watch out for that key change! It can be a little tricky.
Thank you to David, Jose, Steven, and several others as listed on the PDF for their support and help with this arrangement.