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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Soundheim on adapting to change

Lounder music, smaller orchestras (if at all), file sharing or music theft? Change is here. While we thick of rock stars and large corporation, how often do we think of famous composers and Broadway musicals? The experience of a student today, or a theater goer, is very different than it was in the 1970's, which is radically different than the hey-day of Great White Way earlieet in the previous century.
Broadway in 1909, Wikipedia

A few days ago I wrote about a National Public Radio story about how music is getting louder and louder, with the loss of fidelity and musical quality. Now another sign of the times is reflected in a New York times story about Broadway composer and legend Stephen Soundheim ("West Side Story", "Company", and may other) is having to deal with budgetary reductions in the size and nature of orchestras and the trend toward prerecorded "click-tracks" and electronic music. The story focuses on changes in "A Little Night Music" and his other works.

“I’ve reached an age where I’m two generations past when I was considered avant-garde. I went right from avant-garde to being old hat in five minutes, and you start to feel superannuated,” he said. “With every new generation, popular art changes. Already there’s a generation that thinks the Beatles are old-fashioned, which I find screamingly funny. The same thing is true of plays and musicals. People need things loud and fast. That’s one of the things that I like about ‘Little Night Music.’ The musical says: Slow down. Slow down and think.”

Also recommended is the video link in the New York Times story to Soundheim talking about revivals. Another link recommended on the page involves additional insight from Sounheim.  "Stephen Sondheim talks with Howard Sherman, the executive director of the American Theater Wing, about the value of revues and what he learned from Oscar Hammerstein II. The entire podcast, episode #250  of the "Downstage Center" series."

Published 1/4/2009

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