Posts Tagged ‘Berlin to Broadway’

Dick Halligan to Perform in LA June 21

Monday, June 11th, 2012

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Remember the old Blood, Sweat & Tears favorites, “God Bless the Child,” and “Sometimes in Winter?”

That was the genius of Dick Halligan, composer and musician, who lives part time in Idyllwild and Italy.

Dick also arranged  “Variations on a Theme” by Erik Satie, for which he received a Grammy nomination. The rock/jazz band, Blood, Sweat & Tears dominated the Billboard charts in the early 1970s and won the Grammy’s Album of the Year in 1970, over the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Dick also wrote musical scores for 15 films, including “The Owl and the Pussycat” from 1970, starring Barbara Streisand and George Segal, and “Fear City,” from 1984, starring Tom Berenger and Melanie Griffith.

Next week, Dick will be taking his grand piano on the road with a June 21 concert at the Cornerstone Music Conservatory in Los Angeles.

“Dick Halligan: A Man and His Music” reveals his fascinating musical influences that lead to a rewarding musical life as well as personal challenges with focal dystonia, a debilitating nervous system disorder. Rod Menzies is directing the show. Tickets are $20 or only $15 if you order by June 14.

Dick attended a recent musical at Idyllwild Arts

Several weeks ago, Dick held his solo debut in Idyllwild, but many missed it.

“I think he’s a genius,” exclaimed Jessica Schiffman, a friend of Dick’s who is an Idyllwild artist who shows at the Bill Anson Gallery in Palm Springs.

Dick and other local writers would meet monthly to read their works out loud at Jessica’s home. At that time, Dick talked about writing his memoirs. An unassuming guy, he had a lifetime of successes to write about, including time with Blood, Sweat & Tears, and composing jazz and classical music as well as film scores.

He told the group how his musical career started in high school when he got a band together. He was playing an accordian at the time.

Over the years, he learned to play the trombone, piano and flute. He was playing trombone when he first started with Blood, Sweat & Tears.

All of his experiences are written down in his memoir, that he completed within three months. Dick wrote it all out in longhand, while his wife typed it up.

Dick brought the finished manuscript to one of the writer’s group meetings at Jessica’s house. He read a few pages from the beginning.

“We all looked at each other in amazement,” recalled one writer. “Dick doesn’t mess around. When he says he’s going to write a book, he does it.”

Well, most people would think that a memoir written in three months is pushing it a bit. But for Dick Halligan, three months was all it took.

His memoir was well written with clarity and humor. When he gets it published, it will be a bestseller.

It also served as the basis for his solo show.

“All I’m missing now is some good pictures,” Dick said. “I wished I would have kept some over the years.”

Blood, Sweat & Tears played at the famed 1969 Woodstock concert.

“Yeah, I was there, and everyone talks about how great Woodstock was,” Dick said. “But they must’ve been in the audience. From the stage, all I could see was black.”

Dick, the musical genius and the regular guy will be revealed on stage. He spoke excitedly about it while attending the final musical, “Berlin to Broadway” about the life of composer Kurt Weill on June 20 at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Dick said that he never thought much about Kurt Weill’s work, but enjoyed his later tunes showcased in the 2-hour student show.

“Kurt Weill showed a lot of sensitivity and his love of America came out in his work,” Dick said.

“Dick Halligan: A Man and His Music” will be held Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cornerstone Music Conservatory located at 12121 West Pico Boulevard (one door West of Bundy) in Los Angeles.

Cornerstone Music Conservatory is on the 2nd floor next to The Party Store. There is plenty of free parking in the lot. Tickets $20 (or just $15 with reservations by June 14th).

To order tickets, contact Jeannine Frank at Jeannine@FrankEntertainment.com or call (310) 476-6735 or (310) 666-9066.

Photo courtesy of Dick Halligan.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Berlin to Broadway: Composer Kurt Weill’s Musical Voyage

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

'Berlin to Broadway' poster

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The lights in the IAF Theatre were still on late Wednesday night. You could hear show tunes wafting from under the door, the clomping of dancing shoes, while orders were barked out throughout. These were the behind-the-scenes moments that the audience will never see. The final details of Idyllwild Arts last production of the year, “Berlin to Broadway,” being hammered out.

The 3-day show runs Friday and Saturday, May 18 & 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre, and closes on Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m.  Like all Idyllwild Arts productions, it is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat.

“No one does Kurt Weill anymore,” lamented Howard Shangraw, head of the Idyllwild Arts Theatre Department as he was shopping late at Fairway Supermarket one night. “I miss all of those songs from ‘The Threepenny Opera.’ You remember Mack the Knife?”

I immediately did a shark imitation with my hand. Who doesn’t love that song? But who the heck is Kurt Weill?

Like most composers, we remember their songs, but know little about their lives. Not this time, however. ‘Berlin to Broadway,’ gives us a musical glimpse into the life and genius of Kurt Weill.

A German Jew, Kurt Weill married the famous Austrian singer, Lotte Lenya. As their life in Germany became more precarious, they fled first to Paris, then the United States, where they were a success in New York and Hollywood.

Weill’s biographical journey (as told by a narrator) offers songs that have become standards in our Modern American Songbook, such as Mack the Knife, Lost in the Stars, Surabaya Johnny, September Song and My Ship, among others.

Lyricists Weill worked with include Bertolt Brecht, Alan Jay Lerner and Ira Gershwin, The student cast sings and dances excerpts from The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, Lady In The Dark, Street Scene, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and more.

All in all, there are more than 30 songs that are showcased in “Berlin to Broadway.”

“Not only does it demonstrate Weill’s extraordinary melodic gifts, but also his ability to transform his style to fit different environments,” Howard wrote in the program. “His music reflects both the influences around him and the moods of the times in which he lived and composed.”

Starting Friday, you’ll get the chance to know one of America’s most influential composers via “Berlin to Broadway” through songs and dances by the musical theater students. Then you’ll know why Howard liked him so much.

For more information, call (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org. The IAF Theatre is located on the Idyllwild Arts campus at 52500 Temecula Drive in Idyllwild.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.