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March 04, 1994 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-04

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 4, 1994 - 9

.Forget
£By MELISSA ROSE BERNAR
On an anniversary, FTD tell
to "say it with flowers." Bu
University of Michigan Mu
Theatre (MT) program has chos
say it with song.

flowers celebrate 10 years with Harnick

DO
s you
t the
sical
en to

This season marks the 10th
anniversary of the distinguished
program, and they will celebrate with
the music of Sheldon Harnick, one of
the most accomplished lyricist /
composers in musical theater history.

This Saturday, they present "An
Evening With Sheldon Harnick," in
which MT students will perform songs
by Harnick, with musical director
Jerry DePuit at the piano and
choreography by Debra Draper.

Harnick has spent most of his
career paired with composer Jerry
Bock, with whom he wrote
"Fiorello!," "She Loves Me" and "The
Apple Tree," to name a few.Of course,
he is most famous for "Fiddler on the
Roof."
What most people don't know
about Harnick is his involvement with
the MT program here, which gave
birth to this celebratory performance.
In the program's 10 years, they have
staged two of his works - "Dragons"
and "A Wonderful Life," the latter
being a world premiere.
"(Harnick) came out and worked
with the casts, saw all the productions
and collaborated with us. They were
very exciting times," explained MT
program director Brent Wagner, who
emcees the evening along with
Harnick.
"To make a real event out of the
10th year, we thought it would be fun
to do a tribute to his work, to include
the shows that he has done here -
and that would be a great educational
opportunity for the students, to meet
him and work on his work."
This is actually the second such
"evening" with Harnick, the first being
March 19, 1989, the program's fifth
year. That spring was also the
aforementioned performance of
"Dragons."
Wagner has invited all of the
program's graduates to attend, and
also extended a special invitation to
the University of Michigan Friends of
Musical Theatre, an Ann Arbor-based
donor group.
"While (the event) is open to the

public and we certainly encourage
people to come, we mean it as kind of
a special gift for the 'Friends,' who
have stood by us in the last 10 years
and given their support to the
program," Wagner said.
The evening will be a combination
of discussion and performance.
Wagner and Harnick will be seated
on stage, and will discuss Harnick's
work. As each show is discussed,
students will perform song(s) from
that show.
"(Harnick) will talk about how a
song was written, or what he was
trying for when he wrote it," Wagner
explained. "In the case of 'Fiddler,' a
little of its background, or maybe
what's happened when he's seen
'Fiddler' around the world. What it's
like to have 'She Loves Me' on
Broadway right now, 30 years after it
first appeared on Broadway and to
have it be so successful now."
Wagner stressed that not only will
the evening be immensely enjoyable
listening, it will also be an education
for the performers.
"It's fabulous for the students to
look at the works he wrote... because
I think they're very well-written and
his work particularly related to lyrics
is among the best," he explained. "So
I think it gives students insight as to
how words are written for songs and
how characters are developed."
Approximately 75 students will
perform - the whole program save a
few who had rehearsal conflicts with
(ironically enough) the MUSKET
production of "Fiddler," which goes
up the last weekend in March. Songs

from "Fiddler," "She Loves Me," "A
Wonderful Life," "Dragons,'
"Fiorello!," "The Rothschilds," "The
Apple Tree," "Free to Be ... You and
Me" and other scattered numbers will
be featured.
As a special treat - brace
yourselves, now - there is a good
chance that Harnick himself will
perform "If I Were a Rich Man" from
"Fiddler."
"I talked to him on the phoneearlier
this week, and he said he'd be happy
to give it a try," Wagner said happily.
"He's used to performing his songs
for directors or whoever as they were
written, so I think if we could give
him enough encouragement, he just
might do it."
Certainly Harnick the writer needs
no encouragement. He has to his credit
a Pulitzer Prize ("Fiorello!"), two
Tonys and two New York Drama
Critics Circle Awards (for both
"Fiorello!" and "Fiddler"), two
Grammys ("She Loves Me," "The
Merry Widow") and two Gold records
("Fiddler" and "Free to be ... You and
Me"). And as we speak "She Loves
Me" is selling out Broadway's Brooks
Atkinson theater night after night.
So get a comfortable seat, turn the
lights down low ("Gently does it, /
Try to preserve a romantic
atmosphere"), and spend an evening
with Sheldon Harnick and his songs.
Besides, flowers die, and Harnick's
music is seemingly eternal.
AN EVENING WITH SHELDON
HARNICK will be presented on
Saturday at 8 p.m. at Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre. General
admission tickets are $10 ($6
students) and can be purchased at
the League Ticket Office. Call 764-
0450.
bond
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Though you may not guess it from this picture, this is Sheldon Harnick, a big-time Broadway lyricist/composer.

John Zorn charms Ann Arbor with his unprovisational integrity

By PETER MADDEN
"That's about as perfect as it gets,
but we'll jack you off for about 10
more minutes." John Zorn's fleeting

John Zorn's Cobra
Michigan Theater
March 1, 1994

words upon taking the stage for a
second encore at the Michigan Theater
on Tuesday night underscore what
Cobra is all about. The 11 musicians
on stage had not come to Ann Arbor
to participate in a masturbatory
musical display, as Zorn's self-
effacing humor suggests. Rather, the
premise of Cobra rests, as Art Lange
states in his liner notes to the Cobra
CD, on "a social condition which
makes of the musicians a community,"
and Zorn's current ensemble
responded majestically.
Cobra is a game-theory piece based
on a war game of the same name.

Zorn functions as "prompter" of the
ensemble, utilizing adizzying number
of cue cards and body signals to
generate the performance. There is no
notated music; the players are
responsible for the notes and sounds
generated. What makes Cobra a truly
successful exercise in collective
improvisation is that, while the players
generate all the musical ideas, Zorn is
always in control of the structure.
Tuesday's performance consisted
of six versions of Cobra and two
encores. Zorn compiled a seemingly
incompatible array of two guitarists,
two percussionists, acellist, aviolinist,
an electric harp, an electric bass, a
keyboardist, a sampler and a sound
effects man. Yet there was method in
Zorn's madness.
Though earlier pieces suffered
from a slight lack of improvisational
inspiration, the excellence of the
ensemble and the logic'of Zorn's
instrumentation became apparent
throughout the course of the
performance. The scatological
squawks and screams of Chris

Cochrane's guitar in contrast to the
plaintive stagger of Marc Ribot's
guitar lines demonstrated Zorn's
effective choice of two opposite styles
on the same instrument. The inclusion
of two traditionally classical
instruments provided for some
luminous moments of beauty, as well
asjarring the audience's preconceived
notions of how the cello and violin are
"supposed" to function.
Cobra, intentionally, has the effect
of quelling listener expectation
through the hyperactive quality of the
pieces. The sudden changes of tempo,
style and instrumentation leave no
time to savor the moment, because
before you knew it a hauntingly
beautiful vibraphone solo became a

violin being plucked by a toothbrush
complemented by sound bytes of the.
Looney Toons theme.
Some of the most stunning sections
of the performance came when
musicians formed guerilla squads
(complete with green headbands).
These trios could ignore Zorn's
commands and carry on their own
sonic discourse. At one point, a trio of
cello, violin and marimba were
literally encircled by a musical phrase
being passed around the ensemble,
musician by musician. Tactics such
as these evoked spatial characteristics
of the music which were astounding
to the audience member.
It was difficult not to feel frustrated
by the absence of Zorn's alto sax or

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1

the lack of featured space given to any
one musician, yet it is a tribute to
Zorn's artistic integrity that he shuns
the fetishization of individual
musicians. In turn, he presented Ann
Arbor with a unique experience: a
truly collective improvisational
performance.

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University of Michigan
School of Music
Friday, March 4
Contemporary Directions Ensemble: An All-Sofia
Gubaidulina Program
" Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings (Jeffrey Lyman, soloist)
" In the Beginning Was Rhythm, for seven percussion
" Quasi Hoquetus, for viola, bassoon, and piano
Rackham Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
Saturday, March 5
An Evening with Sheldon Harnick
Celebrating the U-M Musical Theatre Program's 10th anniversary,
Tony- and Pulitzer-winning lyricist/composer Sheldon Harnick
will share entertaining moments from his career, and students
will perform highlights from his shows.
Tickets: $10, students $6 (764-0450)
Mendelssohn Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 6
Faculty Recital: Siglind Bruhn, piano
" Hindemith: Ludus Tonalis
" J. S. Bach: Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered
Clavier, works from Sinfonias and Inventions
Recital Hall, School of Music, 4 p.m., free
Monday, March 7
University Choir & Chamber Choir
Jerry Blackstone and Theodore Morrison, conductors
* Dvorak: Songs of Nature, op. 63
* Nyberg: South African Trilogy

The Fifth Annual
Pre-Med

Students'
Symposiurm
"Being a Part of the Changing Medical Profession"
Featuring Keynote Speaker
Dr. Susan Hershberg Adleman
Saturday, March 12, 1994
10:00 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Michigan Union

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