MacPhail to host ode to Sondheim

Published 8:37 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

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The MacPhail Center for Music will be hosting a unique show next week centered around the music of Stephen Sondheim.

“An Evening of Sondheim Songs,” will be presented at the Austin MacPhail location from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 and will feature selections from 12 of his shows.

Along with being performed in Austin, the show will also be performed at MacPhail Minneapolis as well as a private venue.

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“This program is a collaboration between MacPhail faculty, MacPhail students and community artists,” said Cheryl Berglund, site director in Austin. “It reflects MacPhail’s commitment to push educational boundaries and cultivate community as it creatively moves from a top-down approach to education to one that embraces teaching artists and performing artists within and outside of our walls.”

Considered a giant of American theater, Sondheim’s work reaches across a broad spectrum of works including writing lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” as well as writing music and lyrics for acts like “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and “Into the Woods.”

Sondheim died in 2021.

Berglund said next week’s show will be a cabaret style show and was orchestrated by MacPhail faculty members David Kozisek and Walter Tambor along with student Chris Anderson.

It will also feature Janet Hanson, Pat Norton and Penelope Freeh.

“A collaboration of students, teachers, those who play professionally and those who professionally enjoy music, which is exactly what we embody in our community,” Berglund said of the show. “I am hoping that because this is exactly what Austin embodies in our arts, we will show these performers our support by filling up the recital space. Beyond this being a unique collaboration, it’s musical theater, which is sure to be a fantastic evening.”

There is also a hope that this kind of collaboration can be an inspiration for similar events in the future.

That through a show like this, music can be shared in a continuing chain of experience from basic to experienced musicians.

“I hope this program inspires other students, teachers, professional and amateur musicians to collaborate,” Berglund said. “I want musicians of all ages to enjoy their talent lifelong. It’s great to highlight well known musicians, but what really impresses me about this performance is the teacher-student collaboration is the aspect of sharing the joy of music.”

Aside from all of that though, it’s just a fun experience to bring to Austin.

“When I was asked if we would host this performance, I thought, ‘there is NOT a more perfect place to hold this performance,’” Berglund said. “Again, personally it is more important that students of all ages and talent levels understand that participating in music is for everyone. Austin has a deep musician legacy, but what is more impressive to me is that almost every students I have taught from Austin is using their talents as adults.”

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