Monday, December 13, 2010
Members of my family have asked me what a master class is, and for those of you who don't regularly make a practice of studying musical theater, I'll fill you in. A master class is an organized class where a "master" teacher (in this case, me... yes, I know... ) works one-on-one with an individual student while the rest of the students (and often, faculty) watch. The process is obviously beneficial to the guinea pig student getting the private attention, but it's also helpful to the crowd of onlookers, most of whom are able to absorb some bit of advice or wisdom from watching the process happen in front of them.
I teach master classes at colleges pretty regularly, and usually the students bring in standard musical theater repertoire. I work mostly on song interpretation. I ask a lot of questions. (What does this lyric mean? Who are you talking to? What are you trying to accomplish? Why do you think there's suddenly a minor chord on that particular word? What does the ascending line of the melody tell you about your character's emotional life? What happens if you sing that entire line in one breath?) Because I'm a writer, I try to make the actors question why the composers and lyricists made the decisions they made, and I encourage the actors to make musical and dramatic choices to support their understanding of the text.
Every once in a while, I'll get asked to teach a master class in which the students all have to sing music that I wrote. I love the classics, but I have to admit that my ego and I really like it when the songs are mine. Never have I made it through a class without learning something about one of my songs from the insight and individuality of the actor singing it.
So, on this particular day, an actor put down in front of the pianist a piece of music that I've never released to the public. As you know, I sell a lot of my sheet music, in both hard copy and digital formats, but this guy had a photocopy of a piece of music that I had used in an early reading of my show THE WATER. And that music isn't for sale anywhere. So immediately I knew that the music was a bootleg. I have to assume that one of the actors or stage managers or musicians from one of the early readings of my show made a copy of that score and, without my permission, circulated it.
So.. you know me. I launched into my copyright speech. And the actor was shocked. He had no idea I would be upset. He had just gotten this music from his coach and he'd gone and memorized it. He had really meant to honor me by choosing this song. It was totally not his fault. So I allowed him to work on it -- and that's where the trouble really started.
You see, this music was so old that it didn't reflect the changes we'd made to the second act, where this very song occurs. In the version of the song this guy had, his character proposed to his girlfriend, and at the end of the song, she turned him down. But in the rewrite of the show, the girlfriend now says yes. There's a whole new ending to the song, because we discovered in that first reading that the sad version didn't work. And now here this actor was, in my master class, asking me to help him make sense of a song that actually doesn't even exist anymore.
So first of all, I was embarrassed. Because there my name is on the title page of the song, and I'm watching all these details go by and I'm thinking, "Yeah, we fixed that." "Whew, that was a bad lyric." "Oh, I forgot about those extra bars there because we cut them." And so on. But second of all, and more importantly, I was annoyed that this piece of music is out in the world. Because I didn't release it. That's exactly why I wait until things are finished to make them available to the public. And sometimes it takes a very long time for a song to be finished.
There is a novelty, especially among students and collectors, to having early drafts of works. It's fun to see the notepads where lyricists wrote their first drafts of now-famous lyrics. But what's good for a collector is not necessarily good for an actor. I may not have known in my first draft of that song that it was a bad idea. That's the process of writing and rewriting, which is what writers spend all day every day trying to get right. It is to your best advantage, as the performer, to have the version of the song that actually works.
Actors must have the ability to be critical thinkers. In master classes, I often tell students that trying to find the song that nobody else is singing isn't necessarily a great idea. The best songs -- both contemporary and traditional -- are the ones that have withstood the test of time. They have survived the scrutiny of many different kinds of singers. Uncovering the song that nobody knows may not set you apart because of your incredible research. It may set you apart because you sang something -- maybe even something of mine -- that wasn't any good.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Regular readers of this blog (both of you -- Hi, Mom and Dad) will recall that a year and a half ago BIG RED SUN was part of the Oklahoma City University festival called OCUStripped. And that's the last time I wrote about it. Since then we've made new demos (all featured here on the show's website), edited down a 45-minute version of the show for the festival, hired a fantastic cast, director, & music director, and now I'm orchestrating the whole darn thing for piano, bass, drums, and a reed player. Rehearsals start in a few weeks and we have two presentations at the end of October. If you're INDUSTRY (defined as: “someone who is an entertainment professional who can aid in the advancement of the musicals being presented or the writer’s careers”) you can get a ticket here. And if you're interested in the show, you can write my manager Bruce Miller to get all the materials (script/demo/production specs) for your consideration. Everyone else, please enjoy the demos and watch this space for information about what comes next.
Click here to hear the closing number, cleverly titled: "Big Red Sun."
BIG RED SUN (Harry, Helen, Eddie and ensemble)
Singers: Daniel Tatar, Melissa Lyons, Jason Robert Brown, Katie Von Till, Lizzie Weiss, Dan Callaway, Jay Donnell
Piano: Georgia Stitt; Bass: Tim Christensen; Drums: Tom Walsh; Guitars: George Doering and Kevin Dukes
Monday, August 16, 2010
(an interview with the Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura, California, August 13, 2010.)
Hello! My Baby's Composer and Arranger Georgia Stitt speaks to Rubicon on composing for theatre and the human condition.
It's a timeless alliance, Words and Music, a pairing behind every great musical since the first, and it's the same with RTC's current crowd-pleasing production Hello! My Baby. Last week we introduced you to Cheri Steinkellner, the mind behind the words of our standout musical; this week we're proud to introduce Georgia Stitt, H!MB's talented composer. Georgia received her M.F.A. in Musical Theater Writing from New York University and her B.Mus. in Music Theory and Composition from Vanderbilt University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is a recipient of the ASCAP Frederick Loewe Fellowship, the Harold Arlen Award, and the Sue Brewer Award for excellence in music composition. Georgia lives in Los Angeles (and sometimes New York) with her husband, composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown, and their two daughters.
RTC: I overheard you calling Hello! My Baby a “new-fashioned musical,” and I think it’s most apt. My teenagers saw the show and absolutely loved it.
GS: Thanks! At one of our early performances I sat behind a row of women in their seventies, and I spent most of the show watching their reactions. It was just thrilling to me. When the introduction of a song would start, they would all look at each other and smile and nod; they knew what was coming. They seemed to really enjoy the songs and how they were used in the context of the show. I spoke to them afterwards, introduced myself, and asked, ‘So did you know all the songs?’ and they said, ‘Every single one. This is our music. This is the music from our era.’ So I know it worked on that level, but also to be discovering that teenagers are responding to it -- what other piece do you know of that can speak to both of those generations at the same time? So that was the goal with this show, to take the catalogue of music that’s literally a hundred years old and re-purpose it, really, so that it has a resonance for all audiences today.
RTC: Great music transcending generational boundaries - it gives me hope for this latest generation!
GS: One of the boys in the cast sang to his girlfriend, in all sincerity, “If you were the only girl in the world.” I thought ‘how amazing is that? That’s the song he thinks of, that best expresses what he wants to say to her.’ He’s adopted it into his vocabulary. It’s part of the roster of songs in his head now, music that he can relate to, that express his feelings.
RTC: This is the second time you’ve worked together with Cheri Steinkellner -- you’re making quite a team. You must be developing a real working shorthand by now?
GS: The two pieces couldn’t be more different, of course -- but a shorthand sure, and more than that, a trust. I think that trust is what develops over time. I know that her work is going to be good and creative, and she’s going to inspire me and I’m going to come up with ideas and she’s going to respond to them. That kind of collaboration is fabulous. The other piece we wrote together is called “Mosaic,” a contemporary story that deals with a woman on a computer keeping a video blog -- there’s nothing Irving Berlin about it. But that’s the thing -- the job of a theatrical composer is to be able to write music that tells stories in many different styles. I have to be well-versed in a broad spectrum of music, so understanding the songbook of the early 1900s is just as important as trying to find the voice of this character who is sitting in pajamas on her MacBook in 2010. That’s the thrill and challenge of writing music for the theatre -- depending on the project, it just sends you to very different worlds.
RTC: The more things change, the more they stay the same -- authentic expression of the human condition.
GS: The goal is to try to find something that’s specific to the character, but thematically universal. So the audience can be watching and say ‘That’s nothing like my life, except that it’s exactly like my life.’
RTC: I see you have created a CD of original music.
GS: Yes! I’m going to make some copies available at the shows this weekend-- I want to donate a portion of the sales back to the Rubicon Educational Outreach program, my little thank you to them for supporting our piece. The thing about writing theatre is that it takes so long to develop a piece. You know, you have an idea and you write it and then you have a reading and then you do a workshop and then you get these out of town productions or these youth theatre productions where you see things --- Cheri and I have already made a number of changes, things we could only learn by watching it with an audience and seeing what lands and what doesn’t, questions they might have, that kind of thing. So it just takes years to get from “I have an idea for a musical’ to ‘Here is my musical.’ In the meantime I wanted to get these other songs out-- character-driven songs that weren’t written in the context of a musical. One of the nice things that’s happened is that it’s made its way to parts of the world that I would not have been able to go. I get emails from people from many other countries who say ‘I love this song,’ or ‘May I use this song’ in places I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach. The goal, of course, is to write something like ‘New York, New York,’ a song that just becomes part of the lexicon, that’s so resonant to people it just becomes something that everybody knows.
© 2009 Rubicon Theatre Company
Friday, July 30, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Friday, July 02, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
June 12, 2010
Pasadena Presbyterian Church
585 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
JASON ROBERT BROWN has been hailed as “one of Broadway's smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim” (Philadelphia Inquirer), and his “extraordinary, jubilant theater music “ (Chicago Tribune) has been heard all over the world, whether in one of the hundreds of productions of his musicals every year or in his own incendiary live performances.
GEORGIA STITT has been called "a songwriter with a truly distinctive writing voice; a voice that blends theater, pop and classical flavors into a sound all her own" (Craig Carnelia). Her music is "highly recommended. Reflective and personal, but with the intelligence and craft of good theatre songs" (National Public Radio).
JASON ROBERT BROWN
in concert TOGETHER
with TY TAYLOR, ALLIE TRIMM, AMY RYDER, LARA PULVER, DAN CALLAWAY and TRACY NICOLE CHAPMAN!
and in the CHOIR:
Francesca Baer, Christopher Carothers, Robyn Clark, Will Collyer, Cat Davis, Jay Donnell, Scott Douglas, Jesse Einstein, Graham Fenton, Julie Garnye, Lori Jaroslow, Nicole Kaplan, Chil Kong, Tyler Mann, Ashley Marks, Baraka May, Megan McDermott, Eileen Cherry O'Donnell, Erin Quill, James Leo Ryan, Jennifer Shelton, Ali Stroker, Elissa Weinzimmer, Lizzie Weiss, Robert Yacko, Penelope Yates, David Zack
Tickets ($35 general admission)
For church members: $15 tickets available at PPC
Pasadena Presbyterian Church offers sacred space for the city, building a worshipping community whose foundation is the inclusive love of God. Through the hospitality of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we witness to our oneness in Christ by bridging boundaries of age, language, race, class, culture, gender and sexual identity. We welcome all people to serve as Christ's disciples for our diverse multicultural city and world. By nurturing the mind and spirit, celebrating the creative arts and engaging in local and global mission, we proclaim hope.
Friday, May 21, 2010
How often have you felt like you would do something to help, but you just didn't know what to do?
I am inspired by my friend Daniel Tatar. A friend of his, Ana Adame, was diagnosed with late-stage lymphoma this last February, and according to Daniel, "her fears were not for herself, but for her son and his future. The cancer treatments have been extensive and intense, keeping her away from work and family."
It's heartbreaking to hear about anyone struggling with the burden of medical expenses (even with health insurance, thank you America), but as a mother I am especially moved by her concern for her child. And so was Daniel, who took the "how can I help?" question and provided an answer.
Daniel called me a few months ago and said he wanted to put together a benefit to raise money for Ana to help offset her medical expenses and provide her some financial relief. If he just gathered all his friends in the same place and had them perform, and sold tickets, surely that would amount to something. We've all talked about doing it for this cause or that cause. Daniel actually did it, and it's turned into a beautifully produced, highly professional benefit.
So, I'm performing, and I roped my husband (Jason Robert Brown) into coming, too, as well as my gal pal Susan Egan. And we're on the same bill as Ana Ortiz (from Ugly Betty) and Megan Hilty (Wicked) and Steve Kazee (Spamalot) and Luke Menard (American Idol) and Valerie Perri (Evita) and Michelle Duffy (Can-Can). Cuz Daniel has some fancy friends.
It's going to be a great evening of showbiz, but what's especially unique about this evening is the extremely personal way it came to be. I don't yet know Ana, but I know Daniel, and I'm amazed at what he's managed to pull together in such a short time. If I were in need, I hope someone would be so committed about figuring out how to help me.
If you can make it, please come. It's in Pasadena on June 7th. Details here. There's a silent auction (7 pm) and a concert (8 pm). (I'm singing one of my own songs and performing with Susan.) But if you can't make it, maybe you can make a donation. For Daniel. For Ana.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Paulette suggested I might want to meet Cheri Steinkellner, a writer based on the west coast (as I am). Cheri's credits are impressive: in addition to having SISTER ACT currently running on London's West End, she wrote a musical called PRINCESSES, a movie called TEACHER'S PET and a little TV show called CHEERS. Yeah, okay, I'll meet her. We had coffee and she pitched me an idea about a woman keeping a video blog. As the woman talked into the computer, the images she saw on her screen would be projected onto an upstage wall. The woman would be archiving her life and at a certain point in the show we'd realize she was pregnant, and she was archiving for her unborn child with the fear that she might not be there to watch the child grow up. It was a great start and it made me excited to think about working with her.
This idea ultimately became MOSAIC, and we spent the fall of 2009 writing it. The first draft Cheri sent me was about seven pages long... this happens, then this happens, then there's a song, then this happens, etc. And we carved away at it, adding lyrics and music and reshaping the dialogue until we had a version that was about 35 minutes long. We flew to New York, and with Cheri at her computer and me at the piano, we played it for Paulette, who cried at the end. Success.
Paulette was pulling all the details together for the Off-Broadway production, and the other piece she'd commissioned was written by composer Josh Schmidt and playwright David Simpatico. (Their piece is called WHIDA PERU.) Director Jonathan Butterell was examining both pieces, trying to find things about them that linked them together. If you know me, and you know Josh, you can see what a challenge that might have been. I have really gotten to know Josh and his work through this process, and I think he's an astounding musician and an inspiring composer, but as he said to me during the rehearsal process, "We don't even breathe the same musical air."
Cheri and I, along with Paulette and Jonathan, began talking about casting and all came to the conclusion that the piece would be a natural fit for Heidi Blickenstaff. We made an offer and hoped she'd say yes. Thrillingly, she did. Steve Marzullo, a friend and colleague I respect and admire but had never worked with, agreed to music direct. We found Simon Kafka to play the guitar parts, which then meant I had to write guitar parts. We were off and running.
Creative team in place, we rehearsed in New York for the month of March and ran for sixteen performances in April at Primary Stages, housed in 59 East 59th Street Theater. The rehearsal process was pretty standard, I suppose, except it was exhausting for Heidi never having anyone else as a scene partner. And the piece asked her to get very emotional and very personal. She's a total rock star, because she did it all, sometimes crying her way through rehearsal (often making everyone else in the room cry, too), sometimes screaming, trying things, rejecting them, keeping them, elaborating on them, challenging us to make our work specific and correct. Meanwhile, our director Jonathan had such a respect for the writing, for the actor's process, for making the rehearsal room a safe space where risks can be taken and process can grow. He is musical. He is thoughtful. He is organized. Cheri and I have made a few small changes at his request, but really the overall sense in the room has been that the script has something to say and it's everyone's job to honor it and bring it to life. Ooooohhhhhh what a treat it is to have so much space to grow.
And then we teched, and then we opened, and then we got reviewed, and then we closed. It was a quick chapter, the birth of this little piece. My very favorite thing about the process, and what I say when anyone asks me, is that it was a thrill to be commissioned to write a piece and then get to see it come to life. We didn't get stuck in development. We didn't have seven hundred readings. We didn't have to fire anyone. There were no legal battles or personality conflicts. We just wrote it, and Paulette just did it. For giving me THAT experience on my first Off-Broadway show, I will always be grateful. Thanks, all.
P.S. In the works... We plan to write a companion piece to MOSAIC: our own second act. We've recorded three of the songs with Heidi, which I hope to release on my next album. And the sheet music to those three songs is available here ("Not Yet") and here ("You Never Know") and here ("Lullaby").
MOSAIC (part of INNER VOICES)
written by CHERI STEINKELLNER and GEORGIA STITT
starring HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF
directed by JONATHAN BUTTERELL
music direction and piano STEVE MARZULLO
guitar SIMON KAFKA
produced by PAULETTE HAUPT and PRIMARY STAGES at 59 East 59th Street
producing associate SUSAN ELLIOT
stage manager BOB BENNETT
assistant stage manager AARON GONZALES
costume and set design DANE LAFFREY
lighting design JENNIFER SCHRIEVER
sound design TOBY ALGYA
video design ROCCO DISANTI
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Academy II: HOW TO CREATE A MUSICAL
Sunday May 23rd
Barnsdall Gallery Theatre
Festival Training for Young Composers, Lyricists and Writers
Here's a chance for high school and college students to spend a day working with some of the great theater writers of today learning what the pros know about how to write a musical, how to compose a score, write lyrics, conceive the book. If you're interested, let us know right away. We've booked the theater at Barnsdall Art Park for Sunday, May 23 from 9:30am-3pm. You will also have the opportunity to present your musical idea and/or perform for the panel’s feedback. Please let us know in advance if you wish to do so or simply take it all in.
Our faculty includes: Jeff Marx (Avenue Q), Georgia Stitt (Sing Me a Happy Song) and Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary (First Date). This is the chance of a lifetime to learn from the pros. The cost of participating will only be $25 per person. Limit of 50 people. We need to know right away if you're interested. Just email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll follow up.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The Theatre Company at CAP21 presents:
Hello! My Baby
Book by Cheri Steinkellner
Music Supervision and Arrangements by Georgia Stitt
Musical Direction by Aron Accurso
Directed by Cheri Steinkellner and Janet Brenner
Cast Featuring: Harrison Brian Fuchs, Charlotte Maltby, Ashley Mortensen, Emma Steinkellner, Ashley Kane, Matt Gibson, Howard McGillin, Nick Austin, Kevin Metzger, Adam Mosebach, Robbie Metzbower, Jacob Hoffman, Julie Halston, and Robert Creighton
HELLO! MY BABY weaves an updated Tin Pan Alley score into a new-fashioned story of teen song-pluggers, gangsters, immigrants, and debutantes on the Lower East Side of New York, as they fall in love, peddle tunes, gender-swap, and two-step over society to make their dreams come true via the brand-new art form they're making up as they go along: American Popular Music.
Monday, March 29th at 7:30PM
The Shop @ CAP21
18 West 18th Street, 6th Floor
FREE to the public. Reservations Recommended.
Click here for Free TICKETS or call 212-352-3101
Saturday, March 06, 2010
LET ONE CHILD SEE
Music by Georgia Stitt
Lyrics by Bil Wright
©2000 Geocate Music (ASCAP) All Rights Reserved
Cole Burden, singer
You've made me see
that life is still around here living,
that in the wind somewhere,
a child may be singing.
Please speak to me, Earth.
Tell me that I can be.
Of all the things that God has made,
He's just as proud of me.
Let one child see.
You've made me see
that from the darkness may come learning.
That in the night somewhere
a lifefire may be burning.
Please speak to me, Earth.
Tell me that I can be.
Of all the things my God has made,
He's just as proud of me.
Let one child see.
You've made me see.
Let one child see.
And should someone ask, "Was there love here?"
I'll say that it shone through the rain.
And if they should ask about giving,
I'll look through my memory and see
someone who got so much from living
and gave it all day by day to me.
Let one child see.
You've made me see
that lives are still around here living,
that on these streets somewhere
my own child may be praying.
Please speak to me, Earth.
Tell me that I can be.
Is Is this a place where I'll find grace,
and stumbling blocks become the rocks
on which my on which my life can stand?
Now hear me, God!
As you've shown me, please let just one child see!
Let one child see.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Now, the backstory. Randy Redd is an amazing man. I met him ten years ago when we were both on the tour of PARADE. He was an actor; I was a pianist. We became really great friends and over the years he's done readings and demo recordings for me. In the time since, he's become a music director, himself, and he's a great vocal coach, too. And he's a composer. (Talented, much?) But, perhaps most relevant to this evening's theme, he's become quite the producer of humanitarian entertainment, too. (Is that the right way to say it? He uses entertainment to do really good, really important work.)
In the fall of 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Randy (who is from Mississippi) co-created an organization called AFTER THE STORM. It's hard for me to put words into their mouths, but as I understand it, the initial goal of the organization was to use the arts (particularly musical theater) to bring aid to the post-traumatic youth of New Orleans. The first thing they did was to mount a production of Ahrens and Flaherty's ONCE ON THIS ISLAND using local kids, survivors, many of whom had never before been involved in musicals. The second thing they did was make a documentary about it. Go to THIS PAGE and view the trailer to be inspired by the work they are doing.
Their work in New Orleans continues, but this month it expands as Lynn, Steve, and Randy put together this benefit to provide some relief to the children of Haiti. I am thrilled to be a part of it and I hope you'll do what you can to support their efforts, as well. (My song is called "Let One Child See." Bil Wright wrote the lyrics and it will be performed by Cole Burden and a choir of backup singers.)
Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and After The Storm present
The Human Heart: Helping Haiti's Children
Monday, March 1st at 7 PM
$100 (Premium - includes Preferred Seating, Meet & Greet and more!)
Starring: Farah Alvin (Chess, The Look Of Love, Nine, I Love You Because), Betty Buckley (Triumph of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Carrie, Song & Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cats, 1776), Tituss Burgess (Guys And Dolls, The Little Mermaid, Jersey Boys), Quentin Darrington (Ragtime), Gregg Edelman (A Tale Of Two Cities, Wonderful Town, Into The Woods, City Of Angels), Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone, Once On This Island, Chicago), Rachel Bay Jones (Hair), Janine LaManna (The Drowsy Chaperone, Seussical, Ragtime), One Life To Live's Mark Lawson, James Lecesne, Michael McElroy (Big River, The Wild Party, Rent, The Who's Tommy), Gerry McIntyre (Once On This Island), Jill Paice (The 39 Steps, Curtains, The Woman In White), Billy Porter (Smokey Joe's Cafe, Grease), Christy Romano (Avenue Q, Parade), Robin Skye (Parade, Cyrano), Stephanie Umoh (Ragtime), Lynne Wintersteller (A Grand Night For Singing, Closer Than Ever) and Andrea Frierson (Once On This Island, Marie Christine, Juan Darien, The Lion King). This fundraiser will also feature new songs by Brooke Sunny Moriber, Bill Schermerhorn and Michael Feinstein and Georgia Stitt and Bil Wright and special appearances by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and more. Directed by Randy Redd, Aaron Jodoin musical directs and leads a 5 piece band with vocalists Cole Burden, Mary Catherine McDonald, Caroline Dooner, Justin Lopez and Matt Dengler. All proceeds go through After The Storm directly to SOS Children’s Villages.
SOS Children's Villages is assessing the most immediate needs of the thousands of victims of the disaster in Haiti and will provide medical supplies, drinking water and basic food supplies. In the days and weeks to come, SOS Children's Villages Haiti will provide temporary care for children who are not accompanied by adults or even long-term care for children who have lost their parents in this terrible catastrophe.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I'm a songwriter. I've also been an actor, a performer, a public speaker, a husband, a dad and -- currently -- the president and chairman of the board of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). But I'll always be a songwriter, because creating music is a big part of how I know I'm alive.
I'm worried for the future of this craft. People who create music have more tools, technology and options at their disposal than ever before. Yet the question of how they can and will make a living from their art has become a flash-point for attack, particularly online. An "attack mentality" has taken root, springing up at any mention of how creators should be compensated when their works are used in digital channels. And speaking frankly, it's strangling the real dialogue that's sorely needed.
Click HERE to read the rest of the article.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Sam is a beautiful composer and as much as anything, he is a great melodist. So for the first step, he handed me lead sheets of his lush melodies with the chord symbols above them. The songs were titled things like "New Ballad" or "Duet" or "Political Song" and it was up to me to figure out what they should be about. We wrote several songs this way before life and its extenuating circumstances got in our way.
The two most popular of these songs are on my album, "This Ordinary Thursday." Sam wrote music and I wrote lyrics for the song AIR (sung by Will Chase) and PERFECT SUMMER (sung by Kelli O'Hara). But there were several others we wrote and just didn't record. The sheet music for two of those songs has just been made available at my favorite digital sheet music store, Musicnotes. (Click HERE to view my sheet music catalog there.)
The first of the two is a song called "Invested In You." (Sheet music HERE.) It's a duet, and I was playing around with the lyric, trying to write a love song using a whole lot of financial jargon. (Sondheim has a song called "Love's a Bond" from the show SATURDAY NIGHT which was probably my inspiration.) At my last Birdland concert in NY, I had Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat sing it together. They're actually married, so it was extra-cute. (And I was pregnant, so I was not.)
The second song is a tune called "If I Could." And it's your pretty old-school musical theater ballad (for a tenor) that is both romantic and tinged with melancholy. An actable love song - that was the goal. I don't have video footage of it, but you can listen to Dan Reichard sing the song (its premiere, at the New Voices Collective, SIIIGGGGHHHHH) HERE. My friend Kevin Odekirk has just recorded the song with a full orchestra (!), so as soon as that's released I'll let you all know.
Sam is on the road these days as the conductor of DREAMGIRLS. So if you happen to go see the show, head down to the orchestra pit, say hello, and tell him you heard his songs!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Click here: Songwriting for The Theater, Week 1 (by Jason Robert Brown)
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
So anyway, in surfing along, I found this end-of-the-year quiz and it seemed like a pretty good one as far as these things go. Fun. Distracting. Maybe even a little bit informing in a reflective kind of way. And totally self-indulgent, so I forgive you if you skip this particular entry. It's probably more for me than for you.
Thanks to "All & Sundry" for the questionnaire. (Apparently she lifted it from someone else originally, too. Such is the internet.)
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Got a manager. Wrote for four saxophones. Gave in to having a fake Christmas tree.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not even remotely. In recent years I've tried just to make one resolution and to make it something totally reasonable. I think this year's resolution was to call my parents more regularly. And there was one stretch where I think I went about two months without calling my dad. So I didn't make one for this year.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
REALLY close. Me. Also several girlfriends.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
I'm afraid to answer this question. But no.
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A production of one of my shows. Patience. A waistline.
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The birthdate of my second daughter.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having a baby. Sorry, I'm sensing a theme here.
9. What was your biggest failure?
The end of a collaboration, kind of breaking up with a partner and letting go of a piece. Also, sometimes I was really bad at returning phone calls. And note the above new year's resolution fail.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Hand infection that required surgery in October.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new house. Also, Ugg boots. I love them. But I really love the house more.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Molly gets the big sister award of all time.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
People who trade (upload, download, re-sell) copyrighted sheet music and prevent the copyright holders from being able to sell their product. (See "Georgia's 2009 Soapbox.")
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really excited about?
Family. Commissions. New projects on the horizon, new collaborators.
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? happier, fuller
– thinner or fatter? fatter, but it's post-baby so I have an excuse for a few months at least
– richer or poorer? poorer. more mouths to feed, less work
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
exercise, cooking, sleeping, writing (always writing)
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Facebook, procrastinating, wishing for things instead of making them happen
20. How did you spend Christmas?
In NYC two weeks before, on Christmas day it was family and close friends at home. I cooked a rib roast.
21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I am constantly in love with my husband and newly in love with our baby.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is too strong a word. I don't hate. I really don't. I'm disappointed. I'm annoyed. But I don't hate.
24. What was the best book you read?
Thornton Wilder, THE EIGHTH DAY
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Fauré Requiem. I didn't know it before.
26. What did you want and get?
A new house, a second child, good reviews for ALPHABET CITY CYCLE
27. What did you want and not get?
Back into my skinny clothes, a production of my show, a finished second album, Hawaii
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I went to dinner with some of my best girlfriends in LA. And then my husband and I went away for the weekend.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More time with extended family, less barking dog
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
32. What kept you sane?
Jamie. Rita. Elizabeth. Susan. Ali. Bruce. Alastair. Kevin.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My crushes tend to be on real people. I can count three that I had this year.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
It's the year of Health Care, isn't it? The recession has been going on for a while but this is the year it hit home. I wish I had unbelievable amounts of money so I could support the non-profits and charities that are struggling.
35. Who did you miss?
Always miss Grandpa Stuart. Miss friends in NY when I'm in LA, friends in LA when I'm in NY. Now I'm missing the Friskes, who moved across the country.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Bruce. Jean Owen. Cheri.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Do not overpack. I hope I can remember it.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
All Things In Time.
Monday, January 04, 2010
First of all, yes, she's here, and her name is Susannah. For the privacy of my family I'm trying not to print too many details about either of my kids this year, but I will give you this one photo. (Proud momma can't resist.) She's almost ten weeks old and we're just getting into the new rhythms of our larger family. I may not be sleeping much but I'm having a most wonderful time. Molly is a dream of a big sister. I know I'm gonna have a hard time when they're both teenagers, but for now, I'm in pink heaven.
So. Back to it. Professionally, I realize there are a lot of things I missed in the time when I was hibernating. The biggest, most important thing I want to tell you about is the release of my friend Kate Baldwin's album, Let's See What Happens (PS Classics). It came out in late October (I was kind of busy with other things that week), and it's a dreamy collection of golden-era songs written by Yip Harburg and Burton Lane, separately and together. I mention this album for two reasons. 1. I wrote the orchestration to one of the songs, a tune called "Moments Like This." It's track #3, a torchy ballad that I scored for four saxophones, piano, bass, and drums. The band said it sounded like Lawrence Welk and I took that as a compliment. Also, 2. Kate Baldwin is the singer on the recording of my "Alphabet City Cycle" and I think she can do no wrong. Beautiful woman, beautiful voice, beautiful spirit. You should check out her website (www.kate-baldwin.com), order or download her record, and keep your fingers crossed that you get to see her on stage. (You've got about two weeks to catch her in the Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow before it closes.)
Okay, that's enough for tonight. Thanks for reading! Woo-hoo -- I got a whole thing completed without a peep from that sleeping baby. Will wonders never cease?