Music Notes

Star Wars

The best score for a movie Oscar nominations have been announced, and three of the giants in movie music (John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Thomas Newman) are vying with two relatively recent composers (Jóhann Jóhannsson and Carter Burwell) for the prize. Remarkably, Williams is the only one of the five who has won an Oscar. WQXR has more information.

— — — — — is one of many websites that features various streams of classical and movie music. This one also airs past broadcasts of the Peabody Award-winning radio program Performance Today. Another feature that might interest you is “Composers Datebook” which is a two minute hosted broadcast featuring information about classical music and its composers. It’s worth checking out. One of the music streams, “Lullabies,” is perfect for my one year-old grandson.

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There is one place in the United States where you can go each summer to see a series of operettas and Broadway musicals. That place is The Ohio Light Opera company at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. At the company’s website you’ll find a calendar showing the offerings during the season. Note that there are two performances on certain days rather than one – a matinee and an evening performance.

This year the productions are:

  •  Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate
  • Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun
  • Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado
  • Jerome Kern’s Have a Heart
  • Jacques Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne
  • Ivo Norvello’s The Dancing Years
  • Emmerich Kálmán’s The Little Dutch Girl

You are probably unfamiliar with some of the shows, and that is part of the plan (and the fun). There are many, many excellent operettas and Broadway musicals that are seldom performed, and Ohio Light Opera is trying to showcase some of them along with the old standards. It reminds me of the situation with operas. Every opera company in the United States could perform Puccini’s La Bohème to a sold out house every year, but there is a lot more to opera than La Bohème.

Tickets, especially to shows like Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate and Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, will sell out fast, so make your reservations as soon as possible. Note: When I attended a few years ago, tickets were non-refundable, so check on this before you order.

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 Bette Midler

The talk is that The Divine Miss M, aka Bette Midler, will star in a Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s 1964 musical Hello, Dolly! on Broadway in early 2017. She will reportedly receive $150,000 per week plus a percentage of the box-office receipts. Playbill has some of the details.

In the same article there is a piece on a well-received play based on John Kennedy Toole’s book A Confederacy of Dunces. The adaptation, according to Playbill, will eventually make its way to Broadway. It’s about time.

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Mozart in the Jungle is an Amazon series about the private and public lives of classical musicians fighting for jobs and applause in New York City. In an odd decision Amazon has just released the episodes in the second season all at one time. Therefore, you don’t have to wait for a new episode each week. Instead, you can watch all of the season’s episodes one after another in what’s called “binge watching.”

The series doesn’t glamorize the lives of young classical musicians. Instead it shows them living in trashy apartments, taking drugs and drinking (even prior to auditions), and having lots and lots of sex.

I remember learning about some of the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes when I read two books by Johanna Fiedler, Arthur Fiedler’s daughter. One was Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops and Me, and the other was Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera. Neither books was a graphic as Mozart in the Jungle.

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