Posted on December 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm
I arrived at the Library of Congress building at 11 am for a video interview (which will become part of the permanent collection), and Mark Eden Horowitz, the chief archivist in charge of the Musical Theatre collections, had laid out some treasures from the archives. Here was a sketch from West Side Story in Bernstein’s own hand, with some bizarre unused lyrics about a bullfight; here was Hammerstein’s drafts of “My Favorite Things,” showing the evolution of the song over several days of scribbles on a legal pad; here was a manuscript of Beethoven’s – Beethoven! – with crossouts, coffee stains, extra staves scribbled by hand so he could complete a thought; here was Steve Reich’s pencil copy of “Three Movements”, impeccably neat, on the Judy Green orchestra paper I used when I was at college; and here was the score Paul Whiteman used to conduct the premiere of the “Rhapsody In Blue,” in Ferde Grofé’s hand, and there on the page where the big final piano cadenza should have been was nothing but empty staves and a notation in Gershwin’s own distinctive scrawl: “Wait for nod.”
To be inside that building, to be performing on the stage where Martha Graham and Aaron Copland premiered “Appalachian Spring,” to be two hundred steps away from the room where Gershwin’s piano stands, propped open and waiting to bring the next inspiration to life – it was all a little overwhelming, especially now, especially at this moment when America seems to be such a frightening, disconnected place. To be inside that building, whether you were in the audience or on the stage, was to be connected to something great, something immensely powerful.
It meant a lot to me to be able to sing “Hope” and “A Song About Your Gun” across the street from the Capitol. It meant a lot to look back at “The Old Red Hills of Home” and “King of the World” and feel them resonate in that auditorium, blocks away from the houses of Congress. And it meant the world to me to be sharing the stage with Shoshana, who understands my music on a molecular level and who brings me such joy.
Thanks to Anne McLean and especially to Mark Eden Horowitz, who made this amazing evening happen; and thank you to everyone who showed up on a frigid night to share this bit of history with me. We will get through this, we will. Together.
The Old Red Hills of Home from Parade (1998)
King of the World from Songs for a New World (1995)
Shoshana: And I Will Follow from Songs of Jason Robert Brown (2003)
Shoshana: Still Hurting from The Last Five Years (2002)
I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You from Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes (2005)
I Love Betsy from Honeymoon In Vegas (2015)
Shoshana: Cassandra from The Connector (2016)
Shoshana: Another Life from The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
Wondering from The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
Fifty Years Long (2015)
Shoshana & JRB: I’d Give It All For You from Songs for a New World (1995)
Shoshana: Goodbye Until Tomorrow from The Last Five Years (2002)
A Song About Your Gun (2016)
Shoshana: All Things In Time from Jason Robert Brown in Concert (2014)
Moving Too Fast from The Last Five Years (2002)