(Vocus) March 25, 2009
When we think of musicals such as "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music" or "My Fair Lady," we're reminded of Tony crooning "Maria," another Maria rapturously singing the title-tune "The Sound of Music," or Liza Doolittle claiming "I Could Have Danced All Night." The melodies and words roll by, but the colors of the instruments playing them, the haunting high string lines, the countermelodies and embellishments in the flutes and clarinets, or the dramatic chords by the trumpets are all the works of the orchestrators.
The Music Division of the Library of Congress will host a free, two-day public symposium on Broadway orchestrations on Wednesday, May 6, from 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., and on Thursday, May 7, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The event will be held in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not required.
The program is being presented under the auspices of the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust for the benefit of the Library of Congress.
Panel discussions will examine the craft and the orchestrations and careers of such Broadway legends as Robert Russell Bennett, Robert "Red" Ginzler, Don Walker, Philip J. Lang and Ralph Burns. Joining in the discussion will be a dozen top musicians--orchestrators, conductors, composers and musical directors--who have been active on Broadway for more than 50 years.
A panel with music directors will discuss reconstructing and conducting classic Broadway shows for revivals or concerts today. There will also be a panel on the pit musicians' view of working with orchestrators and their scores.
Orchestrators scheduled include Oscar-winner Sid Ramin ("West Side Story," "Gypsy" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"), multiple award-winner Jonathan Tunick ("Follies," "Sweeney Todd" and "Titanic"), Larry Blank ("The Drowsy Chaperone," Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and "The Producers") and Grammy-winner Marion Evans ("House of Flowers," "Mr. Wonderful" and "What Makes Sammy Run?").
Other panelists include Tony- and Emmy-winner Elliot Lawrence ("Bye Bye Birdie," "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and the Tony Award Telecasts since 1967), Tony- and Emmy-winner Donald Pippin ("Oliver!," "Mame" and "La Cage aux Folles"), Rob Fisher ("Chicago" and the City Center Encores! Series), Ted Sperling ("Light in the Piazza" and "South Pacific") and musical contractor Red Press ("Gypsy," "Mame" and "Chicago").
Moderating the program will be Steven Suskin, author of "Show Tunes," "Opening Night on Broadway" and "Second Act Trouble" and a staff contributor to Playbill.com and Variety, and theater historian Robert Kimball.
The symposium is presented in conjunction with the release of "The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations" by Steven Suskin (Oxford University Press, 2009). The book discusses the work of the major orchestrators of the American musical theatre, includes a lively description of the art of orchestration, and details contributions to more than 700 musicals. Much of the extensive research was done at the Library's Music Division, which has a vast collection of orchestrations and related materials, including the collections of Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Don Walker.
The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library's rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library's website http://www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at myLOC.gov.
Mark Eden Horowitz
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