The Music of “Forever Joyful: An Operatic Musical Comedy”

This project is a tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan’s individual influences on me as an artist. Gilbert taught me everything I know about words, and a lesson in great diction is to hear the experts deliver his lines as only they could. Sullivan taught me everything I know about music, and there is still much to learn. His satires of serious composers served as my introduction to a serious appreciation of classical music. Together with the best shows of Broadway from throughout the decades, the “music” of musical theater has played an important part in my life. I acknowledge my appreciation for this music, as well as a love for my values and sense of optimism, in a story which I’m currently writing. The words have been taking shape since late September or early October of 2013, inspired initially by a health/nutrition class I took at Palomar College. In the interest of focusing only on my music, I will not include the words of the story here, which are lengthy, operatic, self-indulgent, and about as arrogant as anything I’ve ever composed. The musical ideas for the show will combine a wide range of musical influences, including classical music, jazz, Broadway musicals, hymns, rap songs, and others. This is not the first time this has been done, but my treatment of this idea will hopefully be different enough, and full enough of just the right amount of funkiness, to distinguish it from other attempts at musical genre-bending. These three improvisations attempt to illustrate the old-fashioned joy and lightheartedness of the story, whose characters are inspired by people I’ve gotten to know throughout my life, most notably my neighbor, Anne, who inspired most of this story’s content. So sit back and enjoy yourself, as I give you these improvisations inspired by this quirky story of optimism kicking cynicism’s butt!

Lady Anne (8:24)

I made this on Christmas morning, 2013, inspired initially by Sir Arthur Sullivan and Kate Smith. This improvisation takes place during the winter, and tells of how Anne Trustworthy (“Lady Anne” as she’s affectionately known) got the whole cast together to make the holidays happen for her friends. The community’s tight budget allowed them to stage a small-scale revue to raise money. The music is dedicated to my neighbor Anne, and is a mixture of her favorite music styles and ideas, from the hymn-like organ section, to the formality of the harpsichord section, and finally, to the frivolity of the many informal dances done by the cast, as expressed in a series of short musical sections influenced by Broadway shows, cowboy songs, and of course, Gilbert and Sullivan.

Hail to Thee, Fruit and Yogurt (4:44)

I made this on February 13, 2014. Here’s a solo piano improvisation in three sections, inspired by Sullivan and by boogie woogie, honoring one of my recent favorite meals. This piece will also be used in “Forever Joyful” in keeping with the show’s themes of joy and health.

Behold the Grape Tomato (5:42)

This was made July 19, 2014. Here’s a Sullivanesque improvisation, reminiscent of his spoofs of classical composers of the Baroque era, namely ideas of Handel found in “Trial by Jury” (“All hail, great Judge”) and “Princess Ida” (“This helmet, I suppose”). My neighbor Anne brought over some tomatoes from her garden to give to my mother; this piece was inspired by my reaction to the flavor of one of them. It tastes just like this music sounds! The sound I used is “Movie Ensemble”, made up of strings, brass, cymbals and tympani. I recorded this on one track, but I adjusted the volume on each of my keyboard’s four sliders accordingly throughout this improvisation. Enjoy!

Till next time, everybody … It’s been fun!