Wednesday, December 07, 2011

TodoMusicales Interview

I just did an interview with a journalist in Barcelona at TodoMusicales. Reprinted here, in English.

‘My Lifelong Love’ is the name of the third album of the American composer and lyricist Georgia Stitt,a collection of songs about love performed by different Broadway stars, such as Heidi Blickenstaff, Susan Egan, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Arden, Anika Noni Rose, Laura Osnes, Shoshana Bean and Kate Baldwin. The album was released on the 29th November 2011 by Sh-K-Boom Records.

Georgia Stitt - who is married to composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown - has written musical theatre shows such as THE WATER or MOSAIC, and has also developed her career as a musical director, arranger, pianist and vocal coach. Her body of work includes: assistant conductor of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS on Broadway; musical director and arranger/orchestrator for ‘The Broadway Divas’ concerts in New York, California and Australia; and vocal coach for the 2008 season of the NBC hit show ‘America´s Got Talent’; to name a few.

Georgia Stitt tells us about her recent album, about her current projects and about her points of view regarding contemporary musical theatre.

HOW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE YOUR NEW ALBUM ‘MY LIFELONG LOVE’?
This album, my third (after “This Ordinary Thursday” and “Alphabet City Cycle”), is a collection of songs about love in its many incarnations: first love, lost love, love of music, love of children, and ultimately, love of self. I have been very lucky that many of my friends are Broadway’s greatest singers, and they bring incredible depth and style to their varied performances. It’s a deeply personal album for me, a collection of many small stories that add up to one big story.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS IT ON LOVE?
It’s not so much that I chose to focus it on love. I write many songs, and part of the process of making this album was matching the right singer with the right song. Once the songs were chosen and the recording was done, I listened to it over and over again, trying to discern what this particular collection of songs had to say. It’s important to me that an album doesn’t feel like a random collection of tunes. It has to have a point of view; there has to be a reason for this particular collection to exist. The title track, “My Lifelong Love,” is about looking back on your life and recalling the moment when you discovered your passion. And it’s about thinking you’re in pursuit of something and realizing, instead, that you have found something even better. To me, that was the metaphor for the whole record.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON WHICH ARTISTS TO TAKE PART OF YOUR ALBUM AND WHICH SONGS THEY WILL SING?
In some cases, there are just singers that I want to work with over and over in whatever capacity possible. Susan Egan knows almost everything I have ever written and she could likely have sung the whole record by herself. (We just released her album, “The Secret Of Happiness,” which I produced, a few weeks ago.) I have wanted to collaborate with Brian d’Arcy James for years, and the timing just didn’t work out until now. Kate Baldwin and I have recorded several other things together; Heidi Blickenstaff created the role in MOSAIC and I asked her to archive it here. In other cases, I thought about the essence of the song and tried to imagine the singer who most embodied the same characteristics. It took a very long time to line up all of the right people, but I think the payoff is that the singers each bring so much of themselves to the performances of the songs.

YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST MUSICAL THEATRE COMPOSERS IN RELEASING AN ALBUM WITH A COMPILATION OF YOUR SONGS PERFORMED BY DIFFERENT BROADWAY STARS. HOW DID THE IDEA COME UP?
Oh, I don’t think I was one of the first – was I? I always loved John Bucchino’s record “Grateful,” which came out in 1999 and has some astounding voices singing his glorious songs. And I remember really enjoying the “Unsung Sondheim” album from the early 90s on the Varese Sarabande label, though I suppose that one was curated a bit differently. Believe me, if I were a strong enough singer, I’d have done it all myself. But in a way I think I’m lucky that I have to ask singers to help me, because they bring so much more to the songs than I even knew was there.

HOW HAS THE AUDIENCE REACTION TO YOUR ALBUMS AND CONCERTS BEEN SO FAR?
I’m always amazed when there are people in my audiences that I don’t know. I mean, I expect my friends and family to be there, cheering me on. But when there are complete strangers at my concerts or posting their reviews of my albums online, it still astounds me. People seem to respond to the storytelling nature of my songs. They like to go on the journeys with the singers. I write very theatrical material, songs that require acting instead of just singing. And I love it when you can tell that an actor has totally captivated the audience. I am always looking for universal truths. What are the things that connect us all, make us the same in spite of our many differences? I try to identify that in both music and lyric.

YOU HAVE ALSO WRITTEN SONGS FOR DIFFERENT WEST END PERFORMER´S ALBUMS, AS DANIEL BOYS, CAROLINE SHEEN OR STUART MATTHEW PRICE… HOW DID YOU GET TO WORK WITH THEM?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to the UK and Australia to do concerts and teach master classes. A few years ago in London a group called Contempo Theatre Company in conjunction with Alastair Lindsay-Renton, my UK agent, put together a concert and treated it like one of my albums – with a different singer on each song and me at the piano. I met many of my UK performer friends there and continued to stay in touch with them and follow their work. Last year the same thing happened in Australia with some of the finest performers that country offers. Over the years, our paths have crossed in many different ways – both physically and online – and those friendships have blossomed into many different kinds of opportunities, including the albums of the three fantastic performers you listed above. I’m planning to come back to the UK in 2012, and you can bet I’ll be asking those performers to concertize with me again!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU WHEN YOU LISTEN TO ONE OF YOUR SONGS PERFORMED BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD?
It’s very moving to me, very emotional. When I’m working in an English-speaking country (outside of the US), I ask the singers to use their home accents instead of trying to replicate an American accent. What’s most interesting to me is finding the place where singer and song meet in truth, and that’s easier to find when a singer isn’t hiding behind an inauthentic accent. Everywhere I travel I learn something new about my songs, something I didn’t know was there before. Learning that these songs are bigger than just my own interpretation of them is fascinating and absolutely energizing.

YOUR MUSICAL ´HELLO! MY BABY´ WAS PRESENTED IN THE FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS IN WASHINGTON. HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE KIND OF FESTIVALS FOR DEVELOPING NEW PIECES?
All of the festivals have their strengths and their weaknesses, but the truth is that musicals are huge and expensive and very few people know how to produce them well. For a theatre to invest their trust and their staff and their money into your piece is a huge show of support. In many cases, the only reason that I finished a rewrite was because there was a theatre waiting to start rehearsal. At every incarnation of your show you learn something about how it works – what the actors need, what the musicians need, what the audience needs. And then, at some point, it’s also necessary to step beyond the staged readings and the festivals and see your show realized in full production. That’s the biggest value of all.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CONTEMPORARY MUSICAL THEATRE? ARE THERE ANY YOUNG COMPOSER YOU SPECIALLY LIKE?
I like that there are so many individual voices coming up through the ranks. I’m a huge fan of Adam Guettel, who has such a unique voice and such a depth of musical sophistication. I like Michael John LaChiusa’s energy and the craft of his songwriting. I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is shaping the Broadway landscape and making it seem like his turf, saying things in ways they have never been said in commercial theatre. I also think there are some younger songwriters who get away with lazy songwriting, but I see actors respond to their material with hunger and vigor. There is such a need for new, good, relevant musical theatre. I applaud anyone who does it well.

AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION OF BROADWAY MUSICALS? IS YOUR AIM OPENING A SHOW ON BROADWAY? OR THERE’S A BETTER LIFE BEYOND BROADWAY?
I would love the chance to have a show on Broadway. I hope I write several shows that make it to Broadway and into markets beyond. But I also hope I keep having the opportunity to write music in many different genres. I very much like writing choral music and I have several published octavos. I like setting other people’s poetry, and I like recording albums. I would not be opposed to writing songs that get placed in movies and on TV shows, but yes, Broadway is definitely a goal.

COULD YOU COMMENT ON YOUR CURRENT PROJECTS?
I just closed a production of my show “Hello! My Baby” at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut. That one was written with Cheri Steinkellner (Sister Act), and she and I also wrote the one-act musical “Mosaic.” I have another book musical, “Big Red Sun,” that I wrote with John Jiler, and my friend Jamie Pachino and I are putting together a contemporary musical revue that I’ll develop at Sundance early next year. And there are a lot of new ideas floating around right now, including another song cycle (to accompany “Alphabet City Cycle”), a few new book musicals, and a big studio movie that I’d love to get the rights to adapt into a big Broadway show. Check back into www.georgiastitt.com in a few months and see which one I actually finished!

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Lifelong Love - November 29th Release!

My album comes out tomorrow! Click here for all of the information, and I'll post an update as soon as I have a hard copy in my hand! (If you've pre-ordered the album from Sh-K-Boom.com, I'm told it already shipped!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog Radio interview with Trish Causey

Loved doing this interview with Trish Causey, who asked me really musical questions. Also hear song clips from my songs KITES AND CHILDREN and SONNET 29, with shout-outs to Brian d'Arcy James, Anika Noni Rose, and Shoshana Bean. Your 30-minute distraction!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Behind the Scenes "Nina Doesn't Care"


Susan Egan has an album coming out on November 15th, and I produced it! Watch this behind-the-scenes movie as she takes you through the "making of" the music video. And if you watch closely, you'll see not just me, but someone little who looks an awful lot like me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Can't Believe It's Been Ten Years

I can't believe it's been ten years. I don't want to write one of those maudlin essays about September 11th, because everywhere you look you can find someone who has written one of those. The emotion in them is overwhelming, and I'm not really ready to go there. Not yet. I know there are deep feelings of grief just barely under the surface of my skin, but it feels indulgent to succumb to them. I didn't know anyone who died on 9/11. It was not my personal tragedy. And yet, I lived in Manhattan at the time, in the West Village, and I experienced the attack on the city in an extremely visceral way. It changed me. It changed us. It was just yesterday and a lifetime ago. I can't believe it's been ten years.

My apartment was on West 11th Street, and our block was set up as the headquarters for information about survivors. All the streets downtown were closed to traffic, and if you needed to find out if your missing friend or family member had been taken to one of the nearby hospitals, they sent you to my block. Tables lined the street, like the press tables temporarily set up for picking up tickets at an opening night event. On one side of the tables sat weary officials behind huge stacks of paper. If your person had made it out of the Towers and had been taken to St. Vincent's Hospital, a few blocks away, you came here to find that out. On the other side of the table stood rows and rows of the most worried faces I have ever seen. And the brownstone steps, for blocks in either direction, were lined with people who didn't yet know anything. It was a place for waiting.

That was the view from my apartment.

On the actual morning of September 11th, however, I woke up in Jason's apartment on the Upper West Side. His phone rang, early. It was his mother, frantic, telling us the world was ending and we should turn on the TV. We turned it on and watched the second plane hit. I remember wondering if my 3 pm coaching was going to happen that afternoon. (It was Alyssa Van Gorder. Funny what you don't forget.) I didn't understand the magnitude of what I was seeing. I had this surreal experience of watching something on TV that was happening only a few miles away. I felt removed from it, like it was a movie, a fictionalized Hollywood horror story. But by the afternoon, the smell in the air made it clear how close we actually were. New York was acrid and pungent for months. You kind of got used to it, which was horrifying in its own way.

A few weeks later, in early October, Jason and I flew to Japan with our friends and colleagues Sally Wilfert and Keith Byron Kirk. We were doing concerts of our own music for the 2001 Tono American Music Festival, created and hosted by my college friend Kevin Simmonds. The plane was empty enough that we spread out and each slept in our own row. When we arrived, the Japanese people seemed more grateful than ever that we had made the trip. They wanted to touch us, to feel that we were okay. We had anticipated being ambassadors of music; we wound up being ambassadors of New York and of America.

That November, my best friend Lisa's daughter Annie had her first birthday, and I tried to write a song to honor the occasion. The lyric was meant to be a celebration of this innocent young life, and instead it wound up being about September 11th. I never wrote the music. I couldn't find it. I put it in a file on my computer where I put lyrics that I intend to come back to later, when I'm ready. I've never gone back to it. I looked at it this week, in anticipation of today. I certainly see how I could edit this thing, fix it, make the words more original, the ideas less cliche. But I still don't hear any music. Ten years later, and I guess I'm still not ready.

I can't believe it's been ten years.

GROWING TO DO
for Annalise Francis Cole on her first birthday, November 17, 2001
Words and Music (?) by Georgia Stitt
©2001 Geocate Music (ASCAP)


Annie was born in November,

A bundle of warmth to a city of snow.

And the world changed

'Cause a baby had started to cry.

Wrapped in pink and all geared up to grow–

That’s how little Annalise said hi.



She giggles, she squeals, she drools,

And she laughs at cootchie-coo.

We’ve all got some growing to do.



Annie could crawl by September.

Pull herself up with her miniature hands.

But the world changed.

When the city outside tumbled down.

Lives and buildings snapped like rubber bands.

Annie didn’t even know to frown.



We struggle, we doubt, we mourn.

And we grieve until we’re blue.

We’ve all got some growing to do.



Sometimes a plane can fall out of the sky.

A war can break out in the wink of an eye,

And people who didn’t do anything wrong can die.

We ask, unanswered,

Why?



Annie was one this November –

A child full of warmth for a city in fright.

And the world changed.

When Annie revealed she could walk.

Baby steps and holding on too tight.

Maybe little Annie’s got it right.

And maybe all the rest of it is talk.



We stumble. We stretch. We cry,

But in time, we will renew.

Baby steps and holding on too tight.

We’ve all got some growing to do.

We’ve all got some growing to do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HELLO! MY BABY at the Village Theatre in Seattle


It's super exciting to have a show in a festival of new musicals, and Cheri Steinkellner and I are lucky enough to have had that experience a few times now. After having had readings at CAP21 and Goodspeed and a youth theater production at the Rubicon Theatre, this week we are at the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle. Here's the view from where I sit right now.

That's the end of the first act, where Frances and Junior realize they might be falling in love. But as usual, shenanigans will conspire to keep them apart until the end of the second act. I hope you all get a chance to see the show eventually. We've got a lot of development opportunities coming up, and I'll blog about them as they materialize. I can't announce (ahem...) until the theaters announce... but it's looking more and more like there will be things to announce very soon. How's that for cryptic?

Set on the sidewalks of New York in the 19teens, Hello! My Baby is a riotous new-fashioned musical-comedy chronicling the beginnings of that original all-American art-form: Popular Music. A new take on the classic songbook musical, H!MB updates the greatest hits of Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, Cohan, and a score of others, weaving them into a timely romantic farce that sings to all ages.



HELLO! MY BABY
Book and New Lyrics by Cheri Steinkellner
New Music and Arrangements by Georgia Stitt
Directed by Rich Gray
Music Directed by RJ Tancioco

Sunday night, August 14th, 7 pm
More info here

Follow HELLO! MY BABY on Facebook or on Twitter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Songwriting Master Class in North Hollywood

Everyone's process is different, and we all know something about how to write or else we wouldn't be here. But how do we write on a deadline? What does it mean to have technique? How much do we depend on our collaborators, and how much do we push them? In this two-day workshop, we will tackle a number of songwriting challenges. Exercises (depending on the desires of the group) could include writing a simple and clear 32-bar song, writing a song based on someone else's experience, writing a (not boring!) list song, writing comedy, writing a song for a character in a found photograph, setting a piece of poetry, and/or writing lyrics to a pre-existing melody or writing music to a pre-existing lyric. Ideally, we will do some small group collaborating and assuredly we will have some overnight homework. Writers must be willing to attempt to write both lyric and melody even if experience is more significant in one area than the other. (Participants need not be pianists but must have some way (sing? guitar? demo?) to present original music.) Think 'theater games' for the writer. Class needs a minimum of four participants.

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SONGWRITING MASTERCLASS with Georgia Stitt
Instructor: Georgia Stitt

Saturday/Sunday 2pm to 6pm
July 23 & 24
Course Fee: $195 (Early Bird/ANMT Member Fee: $150)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Monday, June 20, 2011

Censorship in Texas

I received this letter from my friend Kaitlin Hopkins, who is the head of the musical theater department at Texas State University. I am sharing it here. Regardless of your thoughts on religion or gay rights, these are issues of censorship, hatred, bigotry, and misinformation. If you are in a position to support Kaitlin and her student, I encourage you to do so. Thanks. G.

Dear Friends in San Antonio and Austin (and a few in New York/LA too),

One of my students is working at the San Perdro Playhouse in San Antonio, Texas where they are doing Terrance McNally's play Corpus Christi.

It was greatly upsetting to hear that protestors were showing up every night of the run (thru July 10th) due to the subject matter. If you are not familiar with the play, it depicts Jesus and the Apostles as gay men living in modern-day Texas. See photos of the protests.

My student Joe (who is in the production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in other theater space there) was squirted with holy water by a Catholic woman in the crowd last night trying to get into the theater. I am not sure if she thought it might melt him like the Wicked Witch, ensure he not burn in hell or just give him some relief from the heat in Texas right now but regardless of her reasons, I am asking friends to help in whatever way you can to show support for this play, the theater and this company of actors and director who are going through this. Last night the casts were not allowed to leave the theater once they were in the building.

Those of you that are in the area, please go support the production and let your friends know about it. I am notifying the two student organizations on the Texas Sate campus that support the gay student community here, LAMBDA and the Bobcat Equality Alliance so they can lend their support and stand in solidarity with this company. This breaks my heart, I have many gay young men and woman students here who need to know they are not alone and can be who they are and not be humiliated or punished for it.

Those of you in New York: if you have blogs or in any way can let people know, I would greatly appreciate it. Last night the protest crowd was about 30 strong, some with signs that were just awful. My guess is the numbers will increase next week. I am hoping to get this company some support.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

How To Treat Your Pianist

Oh my goodness she makes me laugh. I do not have issue with point number 6, though. Do you?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Making A Record

Of all the things I do, I think being in the recording studio is my favorite. Of course, it's also the most expensive thing I do, so I don't get to do it as often as I'd like. One of the things that has most surprised me about being a grown-up professional musician is how little of your time is actually spent making music. But when I DO get to sit at a piano and play -- either into a microphone or for an audience or just for the pleasure of playing -- it's the best part.

Several months ago this musical theater friend of mine, Robert Creighton (who goes by Bobby, so I'll now start calling him Bobby), asked me if I might like to help him make his first solo album. Bobby has been in six Broadway shows (currently ANYTHING GOES) and he's written a show about Jimmy Cagney (called CAGNEY) that's getting a lot of attention. Bobby felt like if he made a record of old-fashioned songs, people would buy it. Only he didn't want the album to feel old fashioned. He wanted fresh, new arrangements of the songs that were suited to the kind of singing he most enjoys. Bobby knew that that kind of arranging is exactly what I did on my musical HELLO! MY BABY, so he asked if I'd like to do it for him, as well.

I've recorded my own debut album, and I've played on and written for a lot of other people's albums, but Bobby and I were starting from scratch. He'd say, "What if we recorded 'You Are My Sunshine?" and I'd say, "How do you hear it? Is it a ballad? Is it an uptempo? Is it a solo? A duet? Is it guitar-driven, piano-driven, rhythmic, lyrical? Is it happy? Are you singing all of the verses? What's the right key for you? Do you like the intro or should we skip it?" We did this over and over again until we had a master list of songs we liked and a template for how each of the songs might go so that the album was diverse and interesting but still felt like it all came from the same source.

It's interesting to consider that people don't really listen to records the way they used to. In 2007 when I released "This Ordinary Thursday" my record producer told me that I was the first album on their label (PSClassics) that sold more song downloads than physical copies. It used to be that you could have a hit single on one side of the vinyl and then you could put some less-good "filler" song on the B-side knowing that people would buy it just to get the hit. Nowadays, people can sample the 30-second preview of the song on iTunes, and if it's not as good as the rest of the album, they'll just skip it.

As we've been recording, I've asked Bobby to consider the order of these songs. I remember putting on a record in my room and listening to it from top to bottom. But now we listen to music in our cars, on our iPods, while we work out, and there are many more things to consider. Your first track still has to be fantastic, or people don't listen to the second track. But people who listen in their cars often get four or five songs in and then they've arrived at their destination. They might not ever get to the end of the album. And so many people just pick their favorite tunes and put them in shuffle play, so maybe it doesn't matter at all, anyway.

Unless it does. Sometimes a person will still put on a record and listen to the whole thing consecutively. Maybe they just want to sit and experience your music, top to bottom, in the order you intended. And for those people, we try to keep in mind that the best albums have flow. They have balance. The tempo, energy, key, and style of one song will lead you appropriately into the next. Great albums are conceived as great albums.

So, back in January Bobby and I recorded five songs. And last week, in late May, we recorded seven more. I flew to New York on Sunday. On Monday, we rehearsed all day, making sure we had communicated about all the ideas for the arrangements, making sure we'd thought through the performances. We talked about how singing on mic is so different from singing on stage. On the microphone, I can hear whether or not the singer is smiling. Joy can be captured in an audio performance. We rehearsed Bobby's guest singers. (They are unbelievable... but I won't spoil the announcement for him.) On Tuesday, we recorded the rhythm section - piano (me), bass, drums, and guitar. We recorded most of these things to click track (metronome) so the time would be unwavering. On Wednesday, we brought in a horn section (trumpet, trombone, sax) and recorded them as overdubs to the rhtyhm tracks we'd already recorded. On Thursday Bobby did most of his solo vocals as overdubs over the rhythm and horn charts. And on Friday, we brought in the guest vocalists and recorded them in duets (and in one case, in a barbershop quartet) with Bobby. We spent a lot of time on Thursday and Friday doing rough edits, comping together what we call a "rough mix," which means all of the layers are there, but they are not yet balanced against themselves.

So what we have now is like raw footage for a film, and now the editing begins. Next week we start mixing, or balancing the sounds. After that, there's mastering, which is the final post-production step that evens out the levels and keeps you from having to turn the volume up for one track and down for the next. And then Bobby will have photos made and a cover and a CD jacket designed. And then we'll have made a record. Simple as that.

(photo l to r is Eric Davis (guitar), Bobby Creighton, me, Larry Lelli (drums) and Randy Landau (bass))

Thursday, April 28, 2011

College MT Programs?

I've been asked to compile a list of colleges that have prominent Musical Theater programs. Basically the list should include any school that would have enough kids studying musical theater that they would book master classes, have a library of sheet music, produce a non-student-run musical, etc. Here's what I've come up with so far. What am I missing? Leave comments! Thanks!


US

Abilene Christian University (TX)
AMDA (NYC, LA)
American University (DC)
Arkansas State University (AR)
Avila University, Kansas City (MO)
Baldwin-Wallace College (Ohio)
Ball State (IN)
Bates College (ME)
Belhaven University, Jackson (MS)
Belmont University (TN)
Berklee College of Music (MA)
Birmingham Souther University (AL)
Boston Conservatory (MA)
Bowling Green State University (OH)
Brigham Young University (UT)
Brown University (RI)
CalArts (CA)
CalPoly (CA)
Cal State Fullerton (CA)
California State University Chico (CA)
CAP 21 (NY)
Capital University, Colombus (OH)
Carnegie Mellon (PA)
Catholic University (DC)
Catawba College (NC)
Central Michigan University (CMU) (MI)
Chicago College of the Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt U. (IL)
Cincinnatti Conservatory (CCM) (OH)
Clarion University (PA)
Coastal Carolina University (SC)
College of the Canyons (California)
Colombia College, Chicago (IL)
Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids (MI)
Cornish College Of The Arts (WA)
Covina Center for the Performing Arts (California)
East Carolina University (NC)
Drake University, Des Moines (IA)
Drew University (Madison, NJ)
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti (MI)
Elon University (NC)
Emerson College (MA)
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison (NJ)
Florida Atlantic University (West Palm Beach, FL)
Florida State University (FL)
Florida International University (FL)
Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts (Lakeland, FL)
Hartt School of Music (CT)
Hollins University, Roanoak (VA)
Hofstra (NY)
Howard University (DC)
Hunter College (NY)
Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)
Indiana University (IN)
Ithaca College (NY)
James Madison University, Harrisonburg (VA)
The Juilliard School (NY)
Lees-McRae College (close to Boone, NC)
Liberty University (Lynchburg,VA)
Loyola University, Chicago (IL)
Manhattanville College
Marymount Manhattan (NY)
Milliken University (IL)
Middle Tennessee State Univ (TN)
Missouri State Univeersity (Springfield, MO)
Montclair State University (NJ)
Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA)
New World School of the Arts (FL)
New York Film Academy (NY)
New York School of Film and TV (NY)
Northwestern (IL)
North Carolina School of the Arts (NC)
North Dakota State University, Fargo (ND)
Nova Southeastern Univeristy, Ft. Lauderdale (FL)
NYU (Tisch, Playwrights, Steinhardt) (NYC)
Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan)
Ohio Northern University (OH)
Oklahoma City University, OKCU (Oklahoma)
Oral Roberts University (OK)
Otterbein University (OH)
Ouchita Baptist College (AR)
Pace University (NY)
Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Allan Hancock College (CA)
Patel Conservatory, Straz Center for the PA (Tampa, FL)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Penn State (PA)
Plymouth State University, Plymouth (NH)
Point Park University (PA)
Rockford College (IL)
Rowan University, Glassboro (NJ)
Samford Univeristy (AL)
Sam Houston State University (Texas)
San Diego State Univ (CA)
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) (GA)
Seton Hill University, Greensburg (PA)
Shenandoah Conservatory (VA)
Shorter College (Rome, Georgia)
Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)
Suffolk University, Boston (MA)
Syracuse University (NY)
Temple (Philadelphia, PA)
Texas Chrisitian University (TX)
Texas State University (San Marcos, TX) new program
Troy University (Troy, AL)
Tulane Univ. (New Orleans, LA)
UCLA (CA)
The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
The University of Arizona at Tuscon (AZ)
The University of the Arts (PA)
The University of California, Irvine (CA)
The University of Central Florida (FL)
The University of Central Oklahoma (OK)
The University of Cincinnati (OH)
The University of Colorado Boulder (CO)
The University of Findlay (OH)
The University of Florida Gainesville (FL)
The University of Georgia Athens (GA)
The University of Oklahoma (OK)
The Unviersity of Maryland, College Park (MD)
The University of Memphis (TN)
The Univeristy of Miami (FL)
The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
The University of Minnesota (Duluth, MN)
The University of Mississippi (MS)
The University of Missouri, Kansas City (MO)
The University of Montevallo (Montevallo, AL)
The University of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC)
The University of N. Carolina Greensboro (NC)
The University of Nebraska, Lincoln (NE)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (NC)
The University of Northern Colorado (CO)
The University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
The University of Southern California (USC) (CA)
The University of Southern Colorado (CO)
The University of Southern Illinois (Carbondale, IL)
The University of Southern Maine (ME)
The University of Tampa (FL)
The University of Tennessee (TN)
The University of Texas (TX)
The University of Tulsa (OK)
The University of Wisconsin at Steven's Point (Steven's Point, WI)
Valdosta State University (Valdosta, GA)
Vanderbilt University (TN)
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Viterbo College (WI)
Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Wagner College (NY)
Weber State University (Ogden, Utah)
Webster University (MO)
West Texas A & M University, Amarillo (TX)
Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC)
Western Illinois University (IL)
Western Michigan University (MI)
Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University (NJ)
Wichita State University (KS)
Wright State University (OH)
Yale University (CT)


PROMINENT HIGH SCHOOLS
Booker T. Washington- Dallas
Campolindo HS- Moraga (CA)
Dreyfoos School of the Arts- Palm Beach, Fl
The Duke Ellington School (Baltimore)
Episcopal High School- Houston
Hamilton Academy of Music - Los Angeles, CA
High School of Visual and Performing Arts- Houston
Humphrey's School-TUTS- Houston, Tx
Interlochen Academy Interlochen Michigan
LACHSA - Los Angeles, CA
LaGuardia High School (NY)
NC School of the Arts High School Division- Winston-Salem, NC
New World School of the Arts- Miami
NOCCA (New Orleans Creative Center for the Arts)- New Orleans
North Carolina Theatre School Raleigh, NC
Orange County High School of the Arts (California)
Pebblebrook High School (Atlanta)
Pinellas Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School- St. Pete Fla
Stratford High School- Houston
Virginia Governor's School of the Arts- Norfolk,Va
Walnut Hill School for the Arts - Natick, MA


INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS
The Arts Educational Schools (ArtsEd) (London) (UK)
The Australia Institute of Music (Australia)
Bird College, London (UK)
The Brit School (London) (UK)
Canadian College of Performing Arts (Victoria, Canada)
Central School of Speech and Drama (UK)
Concordia University (Montreal, Canada)
Danske Musicla Akademi (Denmark)
Dudley College (West Midlands, UK)
Griffith University (Australia)
Guildford School for Acting (UK)
Italia Conti Academy, London (UK)
Knightswood, The Danse School of Scotland (Scotland)
Laine Theatre Arts (UK)
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) (UK)
London Studio Centre (London, UK)
Monash University (Australia)
Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts (London)
National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) Sydney (Australia)
Performers College (London)
Randolph (Toronto, Canada)
Royal Academy of Music (London)
Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (UK)
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (UK)
Sheridan (Ontario, Canada)
St. Lawrence College Brockville (Ontario, Canada)
Trinity Laban College of Music and Dance (UK)
The University of Ballarat (Ballarat Victoria) (Australia)
The University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada)
The University of Gothenburg, Academy of Music and Drama (Sweden)
The University of Toronto (Canada)
The University of Western Ontario (Canada)
The Urdang Academy (UK)
Victoria College of the Arts (Australia)
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) (Australia)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Musical Theatre Talk Radio Interview


Listen here to today's radio interview. Trish Causey and I talked a lot about writing, music directing, TV work, balancing motherhood and career, and plans for the future. (My part of the program starts at about 8:50.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coachings: Pop/Rock

I give several private coachings each week to actors and singers who book an hour of one-on-one time in my studio. I work from the piano and guide the actors through song interpretation or vocal technique or audition prep. Each coaching is its own unique little thing, but today an actor was specifically looking for a pop/rock song. Ah, yes. That again.

Musical theater actor/singer/dancer types are being asked more and more to sing pop/rock, and often they have no idea what to do. They've spent years tap dancing and singing Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Charles Strouse, and Ahrens and Flaherty and now they've got a big audition for one of the more pop/rock shows. (Think Spring Awakening, Next To Normal, Rent, Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia.... etc.) Actors want you to believe they can do everything, that they are malleable, versatile, skilled chameleons. Sometimes this is actually true.

But the actors who have for years relied on, well, acting, are freaked out at the idea that they will be required to stand in the middle of an audition room and sing a pop song. Here's why.

The big difference between musical theater songs and pop (radio) songs is they way they function. For the most part, a musical theater song exists to get a character from point A to point B. Over the course of the song, a character will have a realization, make a discovery, choose a direction or solve a problem, leading us from one dramatic scene to the next, keeping the show moving forward. If a musical theater song does not have direction to it, an actor has nothing to play and the show stalls. We audience members don't want that. We are sitting in the seats of the theater, waiting to see what's going to happen to our character. We are listening. We are invested. We do not want to be here all night.

A pop song, however, is usually more of an elaboration of a feeling. Pop songs are designed to be sung along with. They make you smile or they make you ache or they make you dance. If you can't sing along to the chorus by the second time you've heard it, it's probably not going to stick. So if you try to act your way through a pop song, it's likely going to be pretty awkward.

I remember one coaching where the actor asked, with earnest sincerity, "Won't you take me to... Funky Town?"

So here's the challenge. You've got to find a song that lets you rock out like a superstar on stage at Madison Square Garden, but you've also got to convince the panel that you can hold your own in a role in a musical.

I'm going to jump ahead and tell you that the answer is, and always is, you've got to figure out who YOU are when you're wearing this particular costume. In the same way that you'd expect to dig deep into your personal experience to figure out where you and Nathan Detroit meet, you've also got to find your inner rock star.

Here's what I think. I think the casting directors and the creative teams are asking you to show them what you look like when nobody else is looking. How do you sound when you're in the shower? What's on your iPod at the gym? What's in your car on a road trip? What is the music that you feel, deep in your soul? In today's coaching I asked my singer what pop music (recorded in the last ten years please, and five is better) he belted out in his car. His first two answers were Maroon 5 and Kings of Leon. So we spent some time on YouTube watching the videos of their songs, critically asking ourselves these questions.

1. Does this song have enough music in it? Is there an actual melody for me to sing? Is it going to sound decent when it's played on just a piano? Is it in my vocal range? (Or could it be if I raised or lowered it a step or two?) Is it as satisfying to sing as it is to listen to?

2. Once I cut the guitar/keyboard/bagpipe solo out of the middle, is there enough song left for me to use? Is there an obvious place to end? Is there a full song here or just a really great 16-bar cut? (Both are useful.)

3. Is the sheet music available? (Everything we found today was available for $5.25 at www.musicnotes.com.) Important: Is it in the same key as the recording? Or perhaps better still: Is it transposable into a key that's better suited for me?

4. Are any of these lyrics going to make the panel cringe? Do I believe what I'm saying? Will I be able to be authentically me when I am standing in that room, singing this song?

5. Can I sing this song without just imitating the original recording artist? Or if I DO imitate the original recording artist, do I sound awesome? (God forbid you sound like a pale imitation of the only other person we've ever heard sing this song.)

Ultimately, my client and I found a few songs today that he is going to learn, and once we've worked on them a bit he'll choose what's the most effective for him. His goal was to find the thing that would not make him feel like an idiot in the "I-don't-really riff/sing-gospel/rock/improvise" category. If we find that song -- or ideally, two contrasting songs -- we will put them in his book, right after Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You."

And my client sings a mean "If I Loved You."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2011

I spent Thursday and Friday participating in an amazing event. My pal Susan Egan and I were asked to be the closing event at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Susan and I perform together often, and she has a longstanding relationship with Disney dating back to the 90s when she was the original Belle in the Broadway production of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. (Look how gorgeous she is!) The convention was a gathering of extremely media savvy mom bloggers, and we were asked to put together an hour-long set that incorporated singing and talking on the topics of motherhood, social media, and balancing home and career. (I feel like I am both expert and novice at all of those things!)

Susan and I wondered, what on earth qualifies us to talk to this group of women? And as we sat down to build our show, here are some of the things we remembered. Susan had one of the very first websites for a Broadway actress, and I have been blogging since 2006. We are both active on Facebook and I have a busy Twitter account. (Susan now has one, as well, as the result of meeting so many inspiring women this week!) And we've done entire shows about motherhood before. (Remember our "All Knocked Up" show? Here's an interview we did as we were putting it together two years ago.)

So Sus and I put together a show that consisted of a lot of my tunes but also a lot of found material, and we yammered on quite a bit between tunes.

1. THE ME OF THE MOMENT (music and lyrics by Georgia Stitt)
Brand new song of mine, written specifically for Susan Egan about the many roles (wife, mother, performer) real women are required to play. (To be released on my next album, with Susan singing.)

2. MY LIFELONG LOVE (music and lyrics by Georgia Stitt)
A woman recounts the story of falling in love with Adam, a boy who played the clarinet. (Released on Lauren Kennedy's album "Here and Now" on PSClassics.)

3. I WON'T SAY I'M IN LOVE (from Disney's HERCULES) (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel)
Susan's song from Hercules that her character Meg sings, sung here with the movie's animation projected on a screen behind her.

4. THIS ORDINARY THURSDAY (music and lyrics by Georgia Stitt)
Title song of my CD, about falling in love with a city and falling in love with an extraordinary man.

5. I NEVER EXPECTED THAT (music by Georgia Stitt, lyrics by David Kirshenbaum and Georgia Stitt)
Social Media song -- "The things the internet says about you/ Are there forever whatever you do..."

6. CHILDREN WILL LISTEN (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)
Relevant in a new way in the context of bloggers. "Careful the things you say. Children will listen."

7. I GET TO SHOW YOU THE OCEAN (music and lyrics by Georgia Stitt)
The Cape Cod song I wrote for my daughter Molly on her first birthday. Recorded on "This Ordinary Thursday" by Faith Prince.

8. NINA DOESN'T CARE (music and lyrics by Susan Egan and Brian Haner)
Susan's original tune about how playing a princess on Broadway was a little bit different from raising a princess.

9. DEFYING GRAVITY (music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz)
Because isn't that what we're all trying to do?

10. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST MEDLEY (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Tim Rice)
Susan's signature Disney song, supported with backstage video from the original production.

11. MOMSENSE (based on the William Tell Overture, music by Rossini, lyrics by Anita Renfroe)
Seriously the best encore ever written.

WHILE I was on stage, I got nearly 50 new followers on Twitter, and in the days following the network continues to grow. I'm just beginning to learn about all of it, but I've got to believe that social networking like this can only contribute to sales on iTunes and www.musicnotes.com. Plus, it was great for my ego. FASCINATING.

If you're searching, my songs can be found on iTunes and the sheet music is available on www.musicnotes.com. Details for easy downloads HERE.

Thanks to all of the women (and some men, too) who made this week possible. What a treat to be included!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Australia, CAP21 Gala, March Update!

So... I went to Australia.

It's kind of a crazy thing that every now and then I get to put on a dress and do a concert in a foreign country, but two weeks ago Australia got to see me do exactly that. In beautiful Brisbane (which they call Bris-Vegas for no obvious reason), I co-hosted an evening with my fantastically talented fellow songwriter JOHN BUCCHINO, featuring the song stylings of singers MARIKA AUBREY, ANDREW CONAGHAN, MADELINE CAIN, ANGELA HARDING, LUKE KENNEDY and TOD STRIKE. And then, less than a week (and a few master classes) later, I had a solo concert in Melbourne, adding the vocal talents of SOPHIE CARTER, AVIGAIL HERMAN, and CHRISTINA O'NEILL. My husband Jason was also on tour in Australia, and so our kids were able to come with us. Kangaroos were seen; it was a great time! Thanks to everyone who made that trip possible, especially JEREMY YOUETT of Your Management International and MEL ROBERTSON, stage manager extraordinaire.

The past few months have been jam-packed, keeping me the best kind of busy. In January HELLO! MY BABY was presented at the Goodspeed Festival of New Voices in Connecticut, and the show was a big success. We had some incredible actors from the senior classes of the Hartt School of Music (Hartford) and the Boston Conservatory, and they brought real joy and fun to the presentation. This past weekend we did a backer's audition in Santa Barbara, CA (see photo), and we're considering a number of possibilities for the world premiere of the show, hopefully next season. I'll certainly keep you posted here if there are announcements to be made, but if you'd like to see pictures of the show and read about its progress, find our "HELLO! MY BABY" fan page on Facebook!

In February, writing partner JOHN JILER flew out to LA and we began a major rewrite on our show BIG RED SUN. For those of you who don't live in this particular hell, writing a musical means writing a first draft and then rewriting it over and over again. The more opportunities you get to work on a show, the more you learn about it. And after the NAMT Festival last fall, we learned quite a bit. So BIG RED SUN is getting a bit of a facelift and will hopefully be ready to show off her (his? her?) fancy new smile again by the end of the summer.

And FINALLY, right around President's Day, I had an original piece of music featured on NPR. Take a look.

UPCOMING:
On April 11th, JASON ROBERT BROWN and GEORGIA STITT (that's me!) will be honored in a gala concert for CAP21 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in NYC. Special guests will include (this is good stuff, y'all): DAVIS GAINES, AISHA DE HAAS, CHRISTOPHER JACKSON, BRIAN d'ARCY JAMES, LAUREN KENNEDY, JESSICA MOLASKEY, KELLI O'HARA, a 30-voice choir and a nine-piece band. OH YES.

Details here:
http://www.cap21.org/gala.html

and here:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=203567582992942

Jason and I don't perform together often. This is going to be a good one. Hope to see you there!

I'm off this weekend to be the guest speaker at Disneyworld for a Celebration of SOCIAL MEDIA MOMS. I'm singing original songs (with SUSAN EGAN) and talking about Twitter. Help me look more impressive by joining Twitter just to follow me!

Thanks for reading, you guys. I remain so grateful that you are listening.

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH!

XO
Georgia

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Performance Practices

My friend and fellow musician Bruce Mayhall interviewed me for a lecture on performance practices. I was so interested in the intelligence and specificity of his questions that I really took my time answering them. Read and take note, kids.

So, first: what would you say are the most significant tasks of conductors/performers in transferring your notation to realization? Do you regard the score as rather proscriptive, carefully notating what you want and expect adherence to it, or do you view it more as a skeleton to which re-creative artists add the flesh and dress? What about rhythmic or pitch ornamentation (do you permit, want it?)

A lot of my writing is style writing, meaning it's the job of the performer(s) to identify the style of the piece and adhere to the performance strictures of that style. I often write in my scores tempo and expression marking that give clues -- "in strict time" or "freely" or "with growing urgency" -- but it really does demand a lot of the performers to know whether or not this is piece that has room for embellishment. I always say to singers that if you feel the need to add notes to the ones that are already there (pitch ornamentation, riffing) you'd better have a strong acting reason that supports it. If I want the singer to riff, I use slash notation and say "vocal improvisation." Because most of my work is for the musical theater, I will always embrace the strong acting choice over the strict adherence to a detail in my score, so long as the intention of the musical gesture is intact and the style is consistent.

Do you prefer to have conductors consult you about questions they may have about interpreting your work (by either collaboration on the project, or discussions with you about specific concerns) or do you want them to bring their own best skill to the process?

I try to be accessible for questions and comments that come in through my website, but I'll confess that I'm not always able to answer every email in a timely manner. If I get the same question more than a few times I'll answer it in a post on my blog, so I recommend at least a google search before asking. Every now and then I'll hear a performance of my own material that doesn't match my intentions, and I'll wonder if I was unclear in the score or if my notations have just been ignored. I always go back to see what's actually on the page and then I try to imagine how the performer (conductor, pianist, etc.) could possibly have misinterpreted me. If I can think of a better way to express myself, I'll change the score. I am always amazed that people cannot just read my mind.

Secondly, how does vocal quality differ in Broadway performers from say, pop singers or operatic/oratorio style singing? What are the most important skills for a vocalist to develop to appropriately present your work?

Musical theater is all about the storytelling. We musical dramatists focus on expressing an idea to an audience through the use of music and lyrics. I will use a less perfect singer before I will use an unclear actor. I know in other performance styles more emphasis is put on the goal of singing something perfectly. I will emphasize singing it honestly. I'm more interested in WHY you sang that note that whether or not you approached it flawlessly. That said, if your acting choice is getting in the way of your vocal technique, that's not acceptable, either. The baseline is that you have to be able to sing well -- in tune, with accurate notes and rhythms, with intelligent musical phrasing. If you can't do that, even great acting skills won't save you. I can't bear it when a singer sings through punctuation. Trying to prove to me that you can sing a long phrase is useless if it means you've sung through two separate ideas without contemplating why there's a comma between them. I tend to direct singers often to "speak sing" a bit more, to "sing conversationally." And the key to that is knowing when to sing conversationally (in wordier, notier sections which are usually less melodic and more densely populated with lyrics, often the verse intro) and when to sing lyrically (the more melodic sections, the places that have longer notes, sweeping musical lines, climactic lyrical statements). The contrast of those two singing styles in the same piece is captivating to me. Finally, while musical theater does demand singers use their belt voices, I don't really care how high you can belt. I just need the thrilling notes to be thrilling, the loud places to be loud, and the moments with the highest stakes to be supported. Usually that's a belt, but if you can convince me of it otherwise, go for it. But make sure you're singing musically and that belt has a contrast somewhere else in the song. You do not want your audience to be fatigued because you're singing loud and high the whole song. Boring.


What instrumental combinations are best for your work? Live players and acoustic, traditional instruments - and/or synthesized, programmed computerized sound, and/or electrified instruments? Do you orchestrate your own work?

I write for acoustic instruments, with only a very few exceptions. I do orchestrate my own work but I have also worked with other orchestrators. The size of the pit orchestra is determined in balance by the needs of the show (is it a rock & roll score? a swing big band? a contemporary guitar-based pop sound?) and the budget of the producers. At the Broadway level there are union rules determining the minimum number of musicians you can use in a show. I tend to believe the more musicians you can get, the better. I have played synth in pit orchestras and yet I'd still rather have a live harp than a synthesized one any day. I'm a bit of a traditionalist.

Tempo: do you mark M. M. = ; or do you use objective/subjective words to convey your tempos? Is tempo fluctuation desireable (according to emotional content of the text? or other factors?), or do you (again) specify in your score and expect conformity?

Both. I do use M.M = and I often couple it with descriptive words. Tempo fluctuation, again, completely depends on the style of the piece. A lot of theater and pop writing is groove-driven. If that's the case, then no, tempo variation is awful. Often in master classes my first wish is that I could turn on a metronome and make the pianist keep better time. The pianist's job is to provide a bed of support for the singers, and if the pianist isn't keeping steady time, how can the singer possibly make appropriate choices, sing syncopations accurately, or put an accent on a downbeat? But then if the piece calls for rubato playing, I very much want the performers to make expressive and musical choices. I try to notate the difference as often as possible but I also expect the performers to understand the style of music they have chosen to perform.

Rhythms: do you notate "swung" rhythm or would you expect (as in pop and jazz notations) performers to understand what is appropriate to your style?

In theater it is standard to notate swing rhythms as eighth notes and then write a parenthetical comment ("swung eighths") at the beginning of the section. I have also seen dotted rhythms (dotted eighth/sixteenth) used to denote "swing" time, but rarely do I see swung things written out in 12/8, as would be most accurate. I usually prefer to notate the rhythms as straight eighths with written commentary, and I try to be consistent in style for the entire piece.

What are any other aspects of performance practice are of concern to you?

Vibrato should be natural. Dynamics are not arbitrary. And finally, the most thrilling performances of my pieces are the ones that teach me something I didn't know about the song. Find the place where the truth of the song and the truth of the performer meet. If it feels false to you, it probably is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thanks for purchasing sheet music!

Hey, guys. I just wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who have made the effort to find and purchase sheet music instead of downloading it illegally. I know it's a question of ethics and many of you are making a huge difference in the lives of the composers and lyricists you support. This report is very encouraging. Thanks!!

Australia Concerts in March

GEORGIA STITT CONCERT DATES:
BRISBANE - John Bucchino, Georgia Stitt and Friends in Concert
Brisbane (with John Bucchino) - Wednesday March 2
QLD Conservatorium Theatre
7.30pm
in association with Harvest Rain
Info/Tickets:
http://www.qtix.com.au/

MELBOURNE - Georgia Stitt and Friends in Concert
With Andrew Conaghan, Tod Strike, Madeline Cain, Sophie Carter, Chrissy O'Neill and Avigail Herman
Melbourne - Sunday March 6
Bennetts Lane
7.30pm
Info/Tickets:
$35 Advance Sales / $40 At the door
Moshtix
W: www.moshtix.com.au
Ph: 1300 GET TIX (438 849)


Visit:
www.yourmanagement.biz
for more information!