Issue 21: The All-American

Welcome! In complete contrast to the last issue, all of the music in this one was written by Americans, about America: from Hollywood to Broadway with a few stops in between.

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity speak with the legendary, modest and supremely talented David Newman back in March. In his 30-year career he has scored more than 110 films, including War of the RosesMatilda, Heathers and Serenity as well as recently arranging the score for Steven Spielberg’s bold new re-imagining of West Side Story. He is known as one of the world’s most accomplished film composers, yet he was originally intent on becoming a conductor – read what made him change his mind. Although he shifted his focus to composing, David has conducted almost all of his own scores and is now a highly sought after conductor of film-with-orchestra concerts. Unsurprisingly, the conversation with this unique man is unlike any other in Notes from the Podium.

Simon Beck was an absolute pleasure, and we could have discussed West Side Story for many hours longer than the time we had! Simon made his conducting début at the tender age of 20, making him the youngest assistant conductor in musical theatre. He has conducted West Side Story in a variety of settings, including the 50th anniversary McNeely production in 2008. He spoke in great detail about his role as a conductor in musical theatre, how the music of West Side Story informs the drama (and vice versa), the ingenious orchestration and the differences between stage and film versions of the piece. Simon and I both adore this musical, so I hope our enthusiasm is infectious (if you don’t love it already).

And finally… Notes is proud to present its first ever peer-reviewed article, ‘Aaron Copland’s Emblems: A Theoretical/Formal Analysis’ by Dr. Thomas R. Erdmann, Director of the Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Music at Elon University, North Carolina. Erdmann is currently the Jazz Editor of the ITG Journal and has had seven books and over 290 articles published in peer-reviewed/professional music journals. He was also Principal Trumpet of the Illinois Symphony, and Second Trumpet with the Vermont Symphony. Emblems was commissioned in 1964 by the College Band Directors National Association – they asked Copland for a work to be played at the organisation’s national convention. It is a fantastic piece, I hope you enjoy getting to know it.

As ever, I give huge thanks to David, Simon and Thomas for their absolutely brilliant contributions.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Hannah Baxter