These works are either and/ors – works that are suited for both chamber and/or orchestral forces. Others are strictly for orchestra. All may be viewed as concerti, after a fashion; protagonists with orchestra.

A Beautiful Deception (Erik Satie)
Eric-Satie-120x120Audiences simply cannot believe that I have not made up the script. I have not! One cannot improve upon Monsieur Satie and anyone who dares must leave the hall! This most idiosyncratic of French artists will not be improved upon. One who eats only white foods, creates his own church with a thousand functionaries (Satie being the sole congregant), who rises at 7:18 a.m., is inspired from 10:13 to 11:47 a.m. and retires at exactly 10:37, who writes his own reviews (who else?)… Read more

Beloved Brahms (Eduard Hanslick)
Eduard-Hanslick-90x90The work was originally titled Entelechy, a Greek word meaning completed realization. I was in love with the title, but a Connecticut theater executive director chastised me: What the heck is the piece about? Get the name of the composer or performer in the title, he went on. Well, he was right, and I’ve pretty much done this since but I do use the word entelechy in the script. So there… Read more

Confidentially, Chaikovski ( Chaikovski and Nadejda von Meck)
Young-Chaikovski-90x90Nadejda von Meck was a wealthy widow of 45 when she first encountered Chaikovski’s music. Overwhelmed by the beauty of what she heard, she decided to use part of her large fortune—the greatest fortune in all Russia—to support the composer, age 36. By mutual agreement the pair never met, though they occasionally made eye contact at concerts or at the opera house. Von Meck thought a face-to-face with her “artist/man” would only diminish her in his eyes… Read more

Copland & Me (Virgil Thomson)
Virgil-Thomson-90x90The year 2000 was a bonanza for Aaron Copland devotees with performances, festivals, symposia galore, all celebrating the dean of American composers. There is nothing like a centennial to make the musical establishment go crazy. I had been requested by several organizations to create a Copland work but felt uncomfortable portraying Copland as Copland. It would be caricature, and besides, I most often get inside a character by recollections or parallel remembrances of someone close by. Virgil Thomson fit the bill perfectly… Read more

Dvorak’s New World (Harry Burleigh)
Harry-Burleigh-90x90Anyone who’s ever experienced an American spiritual has Harry Burleigh to thank. No, he did not compose any, for as he stated, “The spirituals were never ‘composed,’ but sprang into life, ready made, from the white heat of religious fervor during some protracted meeting in camp or church.” What Harry Burleigh did was to capture them on paper, and, in deceptively simple but elegant realizations, hand to the world America’s true folk songs… Read more

Pardon My English (Ira Gershwin)
Ira-Gershwin-90x90Jim Sinclair, founder and music director of Orchestra New England, and I fussed over several ideas for a proposed theatrical portrait. If memory serves we went through quite a list of composers before Gershwin surfaced. “Yes, he’s our man,” Jim offered up. I concurred, both of us thinking at that point of George, I am sure. As I began to do the research, it was apparent that brother Ira need be the proper Gershwin to tell the tale… Read more

Unanswered Question (Charles Ives)
Charles-Ives-90x90Charles Edward Ives is the seminal American composer, creating a body of music so personal and so not of-its-time that by the 1940s, when his music began to garner the attention of a younger generation of musicians, Ives had long since given up creative endeavors due to ill health and an isolation from musical life itself. As an old man he recollects the past and the things that give his life meaning… Read more

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Antonio-Vivaldi-90x90Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is unmistakably Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous work. Obviously, out of 500 composed concertos, one of them is bound to be a hit. You’ve heard many movements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in movies like Tin Cup, Spy Game, A View to Kill, What Lies Beneath, White Chicks, Saved!, Pacific Heights, The Other Sister… the list keeps going, but I think I’ve proved my point. Perhaps you’ve attended a wedding where Vivaldi’s Four Season’s was played?g… Read more

Changing the status quo of orchestral programming is a difficult proposition compared with chamber offerings: think of redirecting an ocean liner compared to a kayak or canoe. It’s the nature of the beast. So it gives me great pleasure to see the adventuresome spirit of the conductors and musical directors who have added these theatrical portraits to their lineup. Tutti Bravi!

A short anecdote.  I was in the audience when the Hartford Symphony premiered  Unanswered Question, my Charles Ives portrait. A middle aged couple seated next to me had no clue that I was the perpetrator of the evening’s activities. In pre-concert chit-chating the husband, a many year subscriber, said he hated Ives – all Ives. His wife, a non-subscriber, seemed an agnostic about Ives. After the program I asked them what they thought. The husband: “I still hate Ives, though I knew next to nothing about his life.” The wife:  “I thought the music fascinating, loved the love story of Ives and his wife Harmony (yes, Harmony). I think he’s a most interesting classical composer and I’m heading home and buying anything I can find on” Neat! I was pleased to be batting .500, pleased that a bit of context, a bit of understanding this wonderfully complex man’s life would allow her to listen to his music with open ears. This of course is what Ives was up to –  opening ears.

We can assist you with recommendation for actors that have performed these works in chamber format, as well as directors familiar with the format and production, and of course a list of appropriate repertoire for the individual shows.

For those works that include projected visuals we will be pleased to supply a CD for an additional negotiated fee.