Meyerhoff & Strathmore, MD — Baltimore Symphony Orchestra celebrated the musical genius of Marvin Hamlisch Jan 23 -26, 2014 at the Strathmore in Bethesda, MD and at The Meyerhoff in Baltimore, MD
“Marvin Hamlisch: One Singular Sensation,” the most recent program by conductor Jack Everly, shines new light on many Hamlisch’s selections that are seldom heard, like Anatomy of Peace and the very fresh, new instrumental arrangements for While I Still Have The Time from Nutty Professor Musical, from Marvin’s last musical score for theatre. The program also included many of his most recognized pieces, like The Way We Were and At The Ballet from A Chorus Line. Read more about the program for this tribute:
When colleagues, fans and friends describe Marvin Hamlisch, the late composer and conductor who wrote the soundtrack to a generation of movies and Broadway hits, the praise is extravagant.
That’s no surprise, given his impact on the American songbook. Signature tunes such as “The Way We Were” and “One” percolate through the collective consciousness from movies and plays such as The Way We Were and A Chorus Line. Even those who don’t recognize his name can hum the melodies he penned – “The Entertainer,” “What I Did For Love,” “Nobody Does It Better.”
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played many of these gems in a tribute to its former pops conductor in Marvin Hamlisch: One Singular Sensation.
For current Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly, the concert was especially poignant. Hamlisch was a huge influence on his career. Hamlisch selected Everly to conduct his productions for They’re Playing Our song, A Chorus Line and The Goodbye Girl.
Everly reveres the composer’s sense of melody particularly, and his ear for translating drama and character. Working with him, says Everly, “was always a joy.”
Hamlisch’s talent was widely admired: He was one of just 11 artists who have claimed the “EGOT” title, having earned at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. In addition, Hamlisch won a Pulitzer for A Chorus Line.
Those who have worked with Hamlisch also cite attributes that have nothing to do with red carpets and acceptance speeches: among them loyalty, generosity and humor. President Bill Clinton, at Hamlisch’s funeral last year, declared him “a goodhearted, humble and hilarious genius.”
“He was the most generous, big-hearted person, and unassuming.” Says Gregory Tucker, who became close friends with Hamlisch when Hamlisch was the BSO’s principal pops conductor in the late 1990s and Tucker was the BSO’s vice president of public relations and community affairs. Even late in Hamlisch’s career, Tucker recalls, Hamlisch kept taking on one commitment after another. Looking at Hamlisch’s schedule a couple of years ago- including responsibilities as pops conductor in Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Washington, D.C.- Tucker told his friend, “You’re like some pops conductor trying to make it! You don’t realize you’re Marvin Hamlisch!”
Hamlisch got an early start sounding out tunes on the piano at age 5. He became Juilliard’s youngest student at age 7. By age 21, Hamlisch had his first hit, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” which was No.13 on the Billboard charts in 1965. He broke into Broadway as the rehearsal pianist and arranger for Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand, the same year. His signature versatility and musical prowess led him to compose more than 40 motion picture scores and eight musical theater scores and give countless performances as a conductor, a pianist, and with an array of collaborators.
Hamlisch was also an expert at funny, and played straight man to Groucho Marx in the 1970s. There was a lovely segment during the performance. The big screen displayed a picture of Young Marvin with Groucho while you listend to the Great Groucho Marx singing one of his funny songs: “Lydia, the Tattoed Lady”
As a single performer he loved to chat with audiences, frequently asking for words or phrases from fans, then using them to spontaneously compose and play a song. The results were hilarious- but musically solid. “His musical instincts were always spot on, he just knew what worked and what didn’t work,” says Tucker.
“He was always attuned to the soul of what the song or the scene was truly about,” he says. “Only someone like Marvin could check his ego at the door and choose [Scott] Joplin or [Johan} pachelbel over his own significant compositional abilities. He inherently knew their themes were the perfect choices to convey the emotions and tones in The Sting and Ordinary People.”
Hamlisch was active to the end: In the last year of his life, he opened the musical, The Nutty Professor, based on the Jerry Lewis Character, and finished scoring Behind the Candelabra, a biopic about Liberace starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film was presentes at Cannes Film Festival, Deauville Film Festival and won several Emmy awards at the 2013 Primetime Emmys
At his funeral, luminaries from Liza Minnelli to Richard Gere, Candice Bergen and Brian Stokes Mitchell joined hundreds of others to pay tribute. A 600-member volunteer chorus sang “The Way We Were,”“like a himn,”says Tucker, who flew to New York from his home in the Netherlands to attend the service.
“We won’t ever see someone like Marvin again, I’m sure,” says Tucker. “But the memories that he gave us will long endure.”
Watch video: a few of Marvin’s musical compositions (Sophie’s Choice, The Sting, The Way We Were, A Chorus Line and more)
Source: Source: By Virginia Myers for Applause