When baseball players go slumming, they play golf. When some theatre composers have a day off, they apparently start writing classical music. For example, Henry Krieger's latest show, Love's Fowl, works in the idiom of Italian light opera (albeit with pop and show music-style tunes thrown in), and years ago, Leonard Bernstein was as known for his suites and symphonies as for his songs and scores.
Trying to bridge the classical gap is Barbara Irvine, director of The Other Side of Broadway, an organization devoted to preserving "the classical music of established and emerging theatre composers." To that end, Nov. 8, she's giving a concert at St. Peter's Church in NY's Citicorp Center. On the bill are world premiere piano pieces by composers Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!), David Shire (Big) and Charles Strouse (Annie).
The latter name is especially important to Irvine, because she got the idea to champion classical music by theatre composers years ago when she read an old bio of his and noticed he'd written a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Strouse, in his twenties when he penned the piece, had been studying with Aaron Copland and David Diamond. The Concerto didn't receive its world premiere until Oct. 1995, when Irvine played it with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. She then approached other composers, who were pleased by her interest in their sideline.
After the Nov. 8 concert, former NY Daily News theatre critic Howard Kissel will moderate a panel discussion featuring the aforementioned composers, Schmidt, Shire and Strouse, as well as newcomer Jay Alan Zimmerman. A Leonard Bernstein composition will also be played at the recital.
For information on the concert and on "The Other Side of Broadway" call (212) 564-6519.
-- By David Lefkowitz