Category Archives: Music

New Musicals

This year, I have done (or will do) SIX new shows, that is, shows I have never done before! For the vast majority of the musicals I do, I love repeats, because I love most of the shows. There are a few I hope I never do again (ahem-Carnival) but most I could play endlessly.

These shows are:

  • The Sound of Music
  • Mary Poppins
  • Titanic, The Musical
  • On the Town (concert style)
  • Shrek
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite. I can’t! They each have their moments where I think “this is my favorite show to do!” And I would do any of them again in a heartbeat.

Happiness is…a Bernstein Festival

I have been looking forward to the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Festival in Lawrence, Massachusetts, for months! I will be playing in the pit of all three shows/concert.

The headliner show is, of course, West Side Story. This will be my ninth time playing this show, and I am lucky that I am able to do the Eb/Bb/bass clarinet book again. This is absolutely my favorite show to perform.

Basically using the same set (and locale), In The Heights is the other show being performed in the festival. The last time I played this show, I had to drop out after the first weekend because I had cholecystitis (my gallbladder was inflamed)! I ended up having surgery very shortly afterwards. I am hoping that there are no medical issues during this run.

The other performance is a concert version of On The Town, and I am also playing Eb/Bb clarinets in this one. This is not an easy clarinet book. The Eb parts go up to high G# regularly, and even at one point a high B! I can’t even do that on my Bb clarinet. Probably the person who played this book before me couldn’t play that high either, as the notes are written in an octave lower. I think I’ll do that too. But this is a great opportunity to play something my grandparents might have seen and certainly listened to on records.

Since I’ve been playing again since April, I’ve been lucky that I’ve only had a couple of allergic reactions. One was to cigarette smoke from an audience member and the other from playing an outdoor concert. Still, the reactions lasted less than 2 days, and was not nearly as bad as they had been in the past. I am so grateful that I am able to play shows again.

Here are all my instruments for the festival. This doesn’t even include the instrument stands or gig bag!

My tenor, alto and soprano saxes; Bb, Eb and bass clarinets; and flute and piccolo.

The Theory of Everything

Listening to one of my favorite soundtracks, written by one of my favorite “new music” composers about one of my favorite scientists, and feeling a bit mournful.

Johann Johannsson died February 10. I had discovered him earlier than the ToE soundtrack, but when Q2 started playing excerpts from the soundtrack, I realized that there was more to his music than I thought. I quickly scooped up nearly all of his albums. While ToE is probably his “prettiest” album, IBM 1401, A User’s Manual is probably my favorite. We were lucky to get a full lifetime of genius out of Stephen Hawking, but Johann was only 48 when he died.

I have heard that when we lose scientists, it is not as devastating to the science community because often there are others doing the same work, and discoveries are then made by others. (At least, this may be true these days.) However, when we lose an artist, we lose all the art they may have made because no-one else makes precisely that art.

Stephen Hawkings may well be one of those scientists that individually made a difference in the field; at least, I know he did in the lives of millions of children who grew up to be scientists or at least scientifically literate. We were lucky to have him for over 70 years.

But Johann…all the music we will never have.