Carolina Philharmonic Presents Concert of Broadway Tunes
BY FRANK GIORDANO
Special to The Pilot
On Sunday, March 11, at 4 p.m., at the Lee Auditorium of Pinecrest High School, Maestro David Michael Wolff and a full Carolina Philharmonic orchestra will perform some of the most marvelous Broadway music ever written.
For several decades during the middle of the last century, "Broadway music" became synonymous with the music and plays of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The men began their partnership after Rodgers had already established himself as a major composer in collaborations with his college classmate Lorenz Hart.
Oscar Hammerstein II, whose work in the field of operetta throughout the '20s and '30s had been as innovative as Rodgers' own accomplishments in the field of musical comedy, joined Rodgers in creating a new theatrical genre, the musical play.
The new team's first production in 1943, "Oklahoma!", instantly revolutionized musical drama in America by integrating the elements of drama, music and dance.
In later masterworks -"Carousel," "The King and I" and "South Pacific" - they presented dramas of emotional depth and psychological complexity and introduced a number of new storytelling elements and techniques.
Rather than being just entertaining diversions, songs and dance numbers were firmly integrated into the main action and conveyed plot, character, conflicts and the play's major themes.
A milestone in the development of the American musical, "Oklahoma!" also marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in Broadway musical history.
Significantly, Rodgers and Hammerstein's works, though filled with cheerful and uplifting songs, often departed from the comic and sentimental tone of early 20th century musicals.
Long before the "rights" movements of the 1960s, they were seriously addressing racism, sexism and class issues in works such as "Carousel," "South Pacific" and "The Sound of Music."
Over their 17-year partnership, which ended when Hammerstein died in 1960 after collaborating on 10 other musicals, their plays not only influenced other young Broadway dramatists; they found their way to Hollywood and television as well. In all, the duo won 35 Tonys, 15 Oscars, two Grammys, two Pulitzers and two Emmys.
"The Sound of Music," Rodgers and Hammerstein's last work together, ran the table by winning awards both on the stage and screen. Its universal popularity has caused it to be revived frequently ever since.
The 1965 film, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, contains two songs and lyrics written by Rodgers after Hammerstein died. It won five Oscars and still reigns as the most financially successful film adaptation of a Broadway musical ever made.
"The Sound of Music" contains more hit songs than any other of their works, and Wolff's program includes three of them among the two segments devoted to their music.
The second segment, after the intermission, honors the prolific Rodgers alone, who left behind a legacy of more than 900 published songs, 40 musicals, and numerous other works for film and television.
The afternoon program also includes selections from Broadway plays not written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, themes from some James Bond movies, and a solo from "Il Postino" by soprano Young Mee Jun.
As usual, Wolff includes a piece that is likely unfamiliar to many in the audience: the Irish composer Michael William Balfe's ethereal, romantic >"I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls," from his opera "The Bohemian Girl" (1843).
Finally, the program concludes with a tribute to our soldiers and commemorates the 200th anniversary of Russia's heroic defense of Moscow: Tchaikovsky's ever popular, rousing "1812 Overture."
Tickets are $25 for general admission, $50 for priority/reserved and $10 for students. They are available at Carolina Philharmonic Community Arts Center and Box Office, 5 Market Square, Pinehurst; Artist League of the Sandhills; Given Book Shop; Heavenly Pines Fine Jewelry; Arts Council of Moore County; Campbell House; and by calling (910) 687-0287 or at www.shopcarolinaphil.org.
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