Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Carnegie Hall, March 13, 2015

On the evening of March 13, 2015, conductor Steven Reineke and the New York Pops Orchestra gave my 9.5-minute epic "History Of Television Overture" its New York and Carnegie Hall debuts.

Maestro Reineke commissioned this extensive medley of famous television theme songs in Spring, 2014 (so extensive and diverse was the list of themes to be included that I decided to call it simply "The History Of Television.") He debuted it in the summer of 2014 in a concert he put together called "As Heard On TV," which premiered with the Houston and Toronto Symphonies.  The concert also included my "Crime Theme Classics" (another overture-like medley of TV themes, but focused on the crime shows) and my "Muppet Medley," which I had arranged & orchestrated for the Muppets' concert at Carnegie Hall in March, 2012.

I had never heard my "History Of Television Overture" played before last Friday. So not only was I thrilled finally to hear it played by a live orchestra – I was thrilled to have been called to play the piano IN that orchestra – and on the stage of Carnegie Hall – and in front of a completely sold-out house of 2,804 people.

The concert featured the Carnegie debut of Broadway star Sutton Foster, and her huge fan club filled the theatre, including many of the directors, music staff, choreographers, and orchestrators who had worked with her throughout her career thus far.

Before we played my "TV Overture," Steven Reineke went far outside the conventional norm and introduced me to the crowd as the arranger-orchestrator, telling the audience, "He's never heard it before either!" The piece is a barnburner, and a tour de force for any orchestra.  The crowd gave it a huge ovation – and I was stunned when Maestro Reineke had me front and center for a bow. Only stars ever stand front and center at Carnegie – not arrangers. So it was a major career triumph. Thanks, Steven, and thanks to the virtuosic New York Pops!

I previously appeared at the piano, center-stage at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 2011, under the baton of Jack Everly, as we performed our concert "From Rags To Ritzes: The Music Of Irving Berlin," featuring a large number of my orchestrations (some of the best I've ever done.)  Previous orchestrations of mine played by Steven Reineke and the New York Pops at Carnegie include several for their annual Galas: a Hope & Crosby "Road Movie" medley, and a medley of songs from GYPSY; also an overture plus a medley and finale for the Muppets concert, several songs for Cheyenne Jackson's Carnegie debut concert, and several songs for Megan Hilty's Carnegie debut concert (including an epic new version of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," which Megan's been using all over the country.) In the words of a former California governor: "I'll be back..."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

American Showstoppers: An Evening Of Irving Berlin

On March 6th and 7th, 2015, I presented the sixth of my "American Showstoppers" concerts – "An Evening Of Irving Berlin."  The evening featured my 14-piece Fred Barton Orchestra, and starred Karen Ziemba, Brent Barrett, Lee Roy Reams, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Karen Murphy, David Elder, and Damon Kirsche, with featured performances by Jesse Luttrell, Hannah Rose DeFlumeri, and Bruce Landry. The concert was directed & choreographed by Jason Wise.

The Fred Barton Orchestra and the "American Showstoppers" concert series are devoted to classic Broadway music, in my own arrangements reflecting the personality of each composer under discussion, and performed by the best old-school performers who are keeping alive the old art of stopping shows.  Previous evenings were devoted to the showstoppers of Harold Arlen, Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers, Jerry Herman, and Cy Coleman.

The Irving Berlin concert played to sell-out crowds at the Michael Schimmel Center in Manhattan, and the Leon Goldstein Performing Arts Center in Brooklyn.  Next season's concerts will feature the music of Frank Loesser and Cole Porter.
Top left, Karen Ziemba – "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy"
Top right, Brent Barrett – "Let's Face The Music And Dance"
2nd left, NaTasha Yvette Williams, "Slumming On Park Avenue"
2nd right, Karen Murphy – "Falling Out Of Love Can Be Fun"
3rd left, Fred Barton – "I'd Rather Lead A Band"
3rd right, Brent Barrett, Karen Ziemba, Lee Roy Reams – "Play A Simple Melody"
Bottom, Lee Roy Reams & Dancers – "There's No Business Like Show Business"
(Photos Kevin Yatarola for the Michael Schimmel Center)