In a letter read by Principal Pops conductor Jack Everly to the audience during the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch,” Hamlisch’s wife Terry wrote, “When Marvin died; there were a lot of tributes. But Jack Everly’s tribute to Marvin Hamlisch is one of the finest, most elegant tributes ever!”
Over the years, yeahstub.com had the opportunity to interview Hamlisch several times and review several of his concerts with the ISO at Hilbert Circle Theatre, at Conner Prairie (Symphony on the Prairie) as well as performances at Carmel’s Palladium. Based on that interaction with Hamlisch and frequent live exposure to his work, this writer concurs with Mrs. Hamlisch that the ISO tribute was, indeed, a fine musical testimonial to the remarkable composer/conductor and pianist.
In comments throughout the concert, Everly, who was both a personal friend and professional colleague, shared stories about working directly with Hamlisch, including the time he conducted the national tour of the composer’s musical, “They’re Playing Our Song.” Everly also offered insight into Hamlisch’s singular talent such as his ability to communicate the inner emotions of characters in films the composer scored such as “The Swimmer” and “Sophie’s Choice,” the themes of which were part of the program.
Aside from Everly’s lively repartee and exuberant conducting of the splendid ISO, another special feature of the concert were guest vocalists. They included Broadway performer Marissa McGowan, who appeared with the ISO in last spring’s “Anything Goes” Pops concert. McGowan, in possession of a pristine clear voice, made Hamlisch’s iconic “The Way We Were” her very own.
Also striking was the solo performance of boy soprano Jack Martin along with 15 members of the Bel Canto and Cantantes Angeli choirs of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, all of whom sang an excerpt from “Anatomy of Peace,” Hamlisch’s powerfully moving symphonic piece based on Emery Reves’ book, with lyrics such as “I see the world, I hear the dissonance…I see the world as one community…that must be joined by one law…one law for me…one law for all of us…”
Nothing was more impactful, however, in this effectively programmed concert than “At the Ballet,” from “A Chorus Line,” the Hamlisch musical which Everly said “changed musical theater.” Vocalists McGowan and Carolann Sanita, also a Broadway performer, sang the song as well. Also performing was versatile Shannon Forsell, executive and artistic Director of the Cabaret at the Columbia Club and, as Everly stated, “a singer in her own right.” Their strong interpretation of the song was enhanced by the addition of three young ballerinas in tutus who added poignancy as they danced to an already plaintive song.
Also emotionally satisfying was the affecting performance of Maestro Everly himself when he playedhis own arrangement o Hamlisch’s theme to the film “Ice Castles” on the piano.
To summarize the life and music of Hamlisch, the three aforementioned vocalists were joined by Melissa Schott, Jerry Hacker, Joseph Perkins Jr., Gerritt VanderMeer and Corby York who sang “What I Did For Love,” also from “A Chorus Line,” while a montage of photos depicting Hamlisch from young to old were projected onto a screen hanging above the orchestra.
The concert ended with the ensemble of vocalists singing “One,” again, from “A Chorus Line,” which made for an ideal conclusion to what was a magnificent survey of Hamlisch’s music and the career of a man known for his kindness, wit and generosity of spirit.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2014-2015 season call the box office at (317) 639-4300 or visit indianapolissymphony.org.
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