Posted on April 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm

CAP21 (which was once an acronym for “Collaborative Arts Project” but now stands intriguingly undefined) has used their Spring Gala as an opportunity to celebrate great musical theater writers – in past years, Charles Strouse and Maltby & Shire have been feted. This year, it was our turn: On a lovely spring night, my wife Georgia Stitt and I were honored with a beautiful concert on the stage of the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Eight ridiculously talented soloists, a nine-piece string orchestra, and a forty-voice choir all helped bring Georgia’s and my music to life.

Matthew Murphy took some fantastic photos, and you can see them on the Crazytown blog. Thanks, Matthew!

My Lifelong Love (Stitt) (Lauren Kennedy)
You can hear Lauren’s fantastic recording of this wonderful song on her CD Here and Now, but you’ll miss the joy of hearing forty singers adding their hilarious commentary in Georgia’s wonderful vocal arrangement.

These Two (Stitt) (Davis Gaines)
In This Room (JRB) (Lauren Kennedy & Aisha deHaas)
As in our Pasadena concert last June, we presented the songs we had written for our wedding in 2003. Davis brought Howard Schwartz’s poem to exquisite life, and Lauren and Aisha harmonized gorgeously.

Another Life (JRB) (Kelli O’Hara)
Kelli came running in, quite literally, from another benefit, sang this one song, and had to fly right back out the door. You’d never have guessed that from her masterfully assured performance of this song from The Bridges of Madison County that had its New York premiere this night.

I Get To Show You The Ocean (Stitt) (Jessica Molaskey)
Jessica has been an invaluable part of my life since the original cast of Songs for a New World, and Georgia and I rely on her tremendous musicality almost as often as we rely on her generosity and clear-eyed understanding of the world. She sang a song Georgia wrote for our first daughter.

Music of Heaven (JRB) (JRB)
Considering that this song is all about how emotionally closed off I can be, it’s amazing how I get so overwhelmed while performing it. I’m always so grateful to this song for allowing me to express something so complicated and so essential to who I am.

King of the World (JRB) (Christopher Jackson)
From the second I heard Chris open his mouth in In The Heights, I have wanted to get him singing my songs. A major musical talent.

The Old Red Hills of Home (JRB) (Matt Dengler, Davis Gaines & Choir)
Our music director, Tom Murray, recommended Matt Dengler to us for this song, and since we live in Los Angeles, we had to take Tom at his word. Boy, was he ever right! Matt did a gorgeous job, and perfectly set up Davis Gaines to reprise his role from the Mark Taper Forum production of Parade last year.

With Hope and Virtue (Stitt) (Choir)
Georgia’s strong and stirring setting of a phrase from Obama’s inaugural speech. Featured on NPR as part of the “Mr. President” cycle (you can read about that here in the context of a setting I did of Abraham Lincoln).

You Never Know (Stitt) (Georgia Stitt)
A devastatingly beautiful song from Mosaic, the one-act musical that Georgia wrote with Cheri Steinkellner for the incredible Heidi Blickenstaff.

Sonnet XXIX (Stitt) (Brian d’Arcy James)
You can hear Stuart Matthew Price’s gorgeous recording of this Shakespeare setting right here, but what a privilege having Brian pour his soul into it on Monday night! And with no rehearsal! New York musical theater actors are unbelievable.

Sing Me A Happy Song (Stitt) (Aisha deHaas)
I had a fantastic time writing a Johnny Mandel-style arrangement for this and getting to accompany the deeply swinging Aisha deHaas. I still can’t believe Georgia let me play one of her songs!

This Ordinary Thursday (Stitt) (Georgia Stitt)
Caravan of Angels (JRB) (JRB)
Georgia wrote her song about us first, back in 2001. I wrote mine last year, and it’ll be on my next solo album, which I hope is coming out in the fall.

Hear My Song (JRB) (Jessica Molaskey, Aisha deHaas, Christopher Jackson, JRB & Choir)
I don’t even want to point out that it’s been sixteen years since Jessica first sang this song, so I’ll just say that it is one of the great pleasures of my life every time she sings it.

Brand New You (JRB) (Aisha deHaas, Lauren Kennedy & Choir)

Daisy Prince directed the whole evening, and so sensitively and beautifully brought it together. Thomas Murray, my longtime right-hand man, was invaluable – he rehearsed all the singers before Georgia and I got to town, and he prepared the choir so well that they sounded like they’d been singing this music their whole lives. And a very special thank you to Christian Hebel, who contracted the orchestra and played beautifully in it.

ORCHESTRA: Christian Hebel, Katherine Livolsi-Landau, Carol Pool, violins; Beth Meyers, viola; Mairi Dorman, Summer Boggess, celli; Gary Sieger, acoustic guitar; Randy Landau, upright bass.

VOCAL ENSEMBLE: Elissa Aron, Travis Artz, Katie Behrend, Elizabeth Berra, Fayelyn Bilodeau, Valerie Blatt, Lucy Braid, Makenzie Daris, Dan Deluca, Zachary Dennis, Emily Epstein, Olivia Ercolano, Suzie Eskelund, Karlee Fomalont, Sara Glancy, John Hollingsworth, Stephanie Israelson, Greg Jarema, Jared Joseph, Stephen Koch, Emily Lafferty, Gerard Lanzerotti, Melissa Lehman, Grace Lewis, Samantha Matthews, Graham Miller, Brooke Molitor, Chad Murnane, Maria Norris, Taylor Rathus, Elias Rivera, Matt Rossell, Jacob Samuels, Rachael Scarr, Ricky Schroeder, Tim Smith, Katrina Stein, Michael Taglieri, Kevin Wade, Andrew Willis-Woodward.

PRODUCTION TEAM: Janet Brenner (producer), Daisy Prince (director), Thomas Murray (music director), Becca Doyle (stage manager), Christopher Jensen (video projections), Jon Weston (sound design), Susannah Hainley (graphic design).

And many thanks to Frank and Eliza Ventura for all the great work you’re doing at CAP21, and for choosing to celebrate us with such a lovely night!