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The Sound of Broadway Music: Theatrical Orchestration Today

November 2, 2009

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Featuring Michael Starobin (Sunday in the Park with George, Next to Normal), Bruce Coughlin (Grey Gardens, 9 to 5), Larry Blank (Catch Me If You Can) and Daniel Troob (Beauty and the Beast, Shrek).


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Broadway Orchestration

Dear Sir/Madam: I really enjoyed the video on Broadway Orchestration. As someone who is very interested in orchestration in general and Broadway and film orchestration in particular, this was a rare opportunity to hear some of the major players in those fields discussing their experiences and offering opinions. I learned a lot about the real world of orchestration. What a joy it would be to see the scores and listen to the music. On the Internet I did find an MP3 of a selection by Larry Blank. The sound he gets out of the orchestra is that wonderful Broadway show style that lets the audience know that they are going to have a great time at the theater. His background was a fascinating story -- how he essentially grew up in the theater, first as a pianist/accompanist, then a conductor, and then finally a brilliant orchestrator/arranger. I liked how calm he appears in the video, which shows how important it is to keep your cool in collaboration efforts in the theater and film industries. As is true of the art of orchestration in general, you really can't learn it from a book (obviously you can learn basics such as ranges and capacities of instruments from books). And so many Broadway/film scores appear to be unpublished, although I have recently seen publications of scores by John Williams, which is a good place to start for in-depth study. So, the art of orchestration is largely a "trade secret" due to difficulty of finding scores. But panel discussions like this one and the increasing availability of scores helps to demystify this wondrous art form. Kudos New York Public Library.