On a Sunday afternoon when I was about 7 years old my Mom turned on a movie called West Side Story. I was instantly drawn in by the music and found myself laughing out loud during “Officer Krupke” and by the time we got to “Cool,” I was dancing, singing and snapping along by the end of the song. I didn’t realize it then, but that was my introduction to Stephen Sondheim. After watching it for the first time, I began listening to the album and learning the words to the songs and eagerly awaiting the next time the movie would be on TV, which was usually only once a year.
It wouldn’t be until high school when Sunday In The Park With George opened that I truly discovered his music and it made me an instant fan of Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. The music and the lyrics were mesmerizing. The emotions expressed by the characters gave me goose bumps. I was captivated and wanted to become part of the painting. I immediately bought the album and listened to it hundreds of times learning every word and note.
Through my years as a musician, I have had the honor of performing on stage and as a member of the pit orchestra for West Side Story. As a music director, I had the privilege of conducting Into The Woods and was able to gain a deeper appreciation of his works and I have had many vocal students choose his songs for auditions and recitals. My favorites include “Somewhere,” “I’m Still Here,” “Send In The Clowns,” and “Not While I’m Around.”
On Friday, November 26th, we lost this wonderful, talented and brilliant composer and lyricist. Thank you for your inspiration, for your music and for your words. Your spirit lives on in all of us.
“White, a blank page or canvas, his favorite, so many possibilities…”