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New Works and Old Friends

Building a new ballet from vision to performance is something I had never experienced until recently at the Tulsa Ballet. As a part of the Company’s 60th anniversary season, Artistic Director Marcello Angelini commissioned choreographer Edwaard Liang to create a new full length storybook piece, and he chose the 14th book of L. Frank Baum’s classic tales of OZ. Dorothy and the Prince of OZ tells the story of Dorothy’s return to the Emerald City to avert war between King Sapphire and Queen Diamond and in the midst of her diplomacy, she falls in love with their son. The show is visually stunning with sets and puppets by Basil Twist (who served a creative role in the Harry Potter movies), computer projections by Daniel Brodie, and gorgeous costumes by Mark Zappone. The score was a compilation of works by Grieg, Glazanov, Bartok, and some original music by Oliver Peter Graber. Alas, it was adjusted in rehearsal to created needed material and clearly serves the story while sometimes sacrificing musical cohesion. But the overall affect was amazing. To watch the entire process unfold was fascinating. Truthfully, we handed the last edits to the orchestra as they arrived for the opening night performance! And there are further adjustments that I will make before the piece sees its second staging in May or 2018 by BalletMet Columbus (who co-produced the work with the Tulsa Ballet). Another new work I enjoyed revealing was at the Westerville Symphony’s annual event, Tunes-n-Tales. This collaboration with the Westerville Public Library brings together a popular children’s book and a chamber orchestra with music either arranged or composed for the performances. This year the book was Thacher Hurd’s Mama Don’t Allow, and I chose music from Shostakovich and Weill to interweave with the story. David Frost’s arrangement of the title song had the audience rocking! Another week of In-School concerts with the Columbus Symphony was followed by a wonderful reunion with violinist Lindsay Deutsch. Lindsay appeared with the Springfield Symphony performing John Corigliano’s Chaccone from the Red Violin and Alexander Courage’s Fantasy on themes from Progy and Bess. Lindsay was very generous with her time as she also did a mini recital/meet and greet at Temple Shalom and had an inspiring visit with the Springfield Youth Symphony. Lindsay and I also hatched plans for her return to central Ohio and the Westerville Symphony next season. I hope it will come to pass. Now I am back to Tulsa and my first Swan Lake. Let’s hope I don’t drown!