Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Methinks We Begin a New Journey

Earlier this afternoon, Linz and I had the opportunity to present a project to the rising class at Penfield High School in Rochester, New York.  The project we have proposed is a Shakespeare Sonnet composition project that will involve the advanced voice class, the orchestra and the theory class. 

Throughout the next school year, we will be examining the Shakespeare Sonnets with the voice class, translating 5 to 7 of them into modern English with the students' help, and then setting the original sonnet into a vocal composition with orchestrated arrangements.  In performance next June (2012),the class will present their translated versions paired with the original sonnets ... all set to music, which will be performed in a special concert.

When talking to the class today, it became apparent that Shakespeare is a mystery ... and yet everyone thinks and believes that to know Shakespeare is evidence of an educated person.  Based on their response, it is clear that learning Shakespeare is perceived to be a difficult task. 

With this project, our goal as composers/writers is to connect them with this heightened language in a way that makes Shakespeare's words personal to them, so that when they speak these words without the music, they will feel and know the power of great writing --writing that transcends time.

So ... we are off!  ... beginning a journey ... we hope it will be a fantastic one for all involved.  We certainly know we are looking forward to the experience.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Joy of What We Do

This past weekend, we (meaning my writing partner, Lindsay Baker, and I) had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the New York Musical Theater Festival's (NYMF) Bootcamp.  For two days, we sat together with other winners of this year's Next Link Project and the producers of shows for the 2011 festival, hearing and sharing information about what we are about to undertake--a New York City production of our show.

One of the most amazing moments of the entire weekend was when each of us (the writers) shared a song from our musical.  This is the musical in its purist form because these performances come straight from the heart of the people who created them.  What is so extraordinary about the experience is that here in a room full of strangers, we all share a common bond.  We all know the joy of what we do AND ... in this powerful moment, we have the opportunity to share this joy with others who understand completely what it means to write a musical.

For those who have never attempted to write one, it is important to know that for a composer/lyricist/playwright, "joy" is the most necessary ingredient in the writing process--at least it is for us.  Joy has to be the overarching presence because sometimes that is the only thing a composer/lyricist and playwright has.  It is the joy that sustains the writer through the bleak times and it is the joy that is replenished when a special opportunity like this one presents itself.

Our experience over the weekend was supportive, encouraging, and positive.  NYMF puts together people who love theater ... musical theater ... and they make it happen.  Because of the NYMF staff and what they accomplished this weekend, we believe that we will be able to produce our show.  Already they have given us access to tremendous resources and introduced us to fabulously talented people, people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make a show happen ... directors, designers, marketing people, and people who have created wonderful shows for them in the past.

As a result, we welcome our journey ahead.  From what we learned in bootcamp, we know that the next several months will be insane and that things will happen quickly.  Our hope, however,  is that when we open, we will still know that same joy--the joy of what we did!!