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Sondheim Musicals...and the trumpet part(s)



 
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MaestroTrpt
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Joined: 11 Oct 2012
Posts: 43
Location: Philly Suburb

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:02 am    Post subject: Sondheim Musicals...and the trumpet part(s) Reply with quote

I'm a BIG fan of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and his musicals. They are usually challenging to perform and master (both vocally & instrumentally), and contain non-conventional melodies and close/dissonant harmonies (that somehow always make sense . And, of course, tricky rhythms (my God- the RHYTHMS! haha).
However, they are oh-so rewarding when "nailed." They often contain a deep or dark (or both) message that urges the audience to step back and think.

My fav show by Mr. Sondheim is "Merrily We Roll Along." Though unfortunately a commercial failure upon its initial release, the message is profound. I have not played the lead trumpet book, but I have music directed it before. The book seems fun but quite a blow in spots (including a high F towards the middle of the 'Overture', right after a trumpet/brass-heavy opening sequence), with some exposed stuff. Jazzy licks, busy part, some quick mute changes, etc, etc. Anyone play that book?....

What Sondheim musicals have you played? Which ones were more challenging?

Note: I know that shows like "Gypsy" and "West Side Story" are Sondheim shows, too, but I'm interested in ones that were mostly composed/written by him ("Sweeney Todd", "Passion", "Anyone Can Whistle", "Forum", "Company", etc).

Thanks for reading!
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Justin_Smith
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Joined: 24 Mar 2005
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Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have played a bunch of them.

This past year I played Company and In to the Woods.

Company is kind of a blow, but there is a lot of downtime between the scenes. It is a series of vignettes.It is probably my overall favorite Sondheim show. It is fairly straight forward.There are some great lead trumpet moments.

A lot has been written about Into the Woods on this site. I played it on C trumpet, with piccolo in a couple spots (not written for piccolo). It is a very efficient part. You are never playing for the sake of playing, brilliant chamber orchestra writing. The only real tricky things are the exposed fanfares you have to play throughout the show. This show has lots of meter changes,
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MaestroTrpt
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Joined: 11 Oct 2012
Posts: 43
Location: Philly Suburb

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I believe "Company" (which I have ALSO MDed) and "[A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the] Forum" are the most "straight-forward" of Sondheim's shows.
"Company" - great show, I agree. I believe there are two versions of it available-- one with a rather large orchestration (including f. horn), and one that is the smaller, "combo" version.

It does seem that "Into the Woods" has received a lot of attention here, probably because it's arguably one of his most famous shows (with the help of the release of the movie version).

Just recently, I was hired to play trumpet I for a production of "Sweeney" coming up. I was very excited to learn that we are using the full instrumentation, and I'll have a trumpet II player supporting me as well. From what I've read, the book is more ambient and less busy than other lead books for musicals. Can't wait!
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