The gift was ours to borrow: Thank you, Marvin Hamlisch

Ah, sad to hear that Marvin Hamlisch died today. A Chorus Line, whose music he composed, will always have a special place in my heart as my first high-school musical. My freshman year at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco I was cast in the ensemble. While I had been into musicals since I was a little kid, it was that experience that helped crystallize my love for performing on stage. And what better show than one about the life of performers, in this case, dancers. Even nowadays I’m always singing or humming those songs, and sure enough I named this blog after a Chorus Line song, Cassie’s “The Music and the Mirror.”

He had quite a multi-faceted career, to which I intend to devote more exploration, but at the very least I must say for his Chorus Line music I am indeed grateful.

In 2005 Thom and I saw Marvin Hamlisch conduct Brian Stokes Mitchell’s concert with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington. At the time I wrote:

Before Brian’s set, the National Symphony Orchestra played suites from South Pacific (Richard Rodgers) and The Light in the Piazza (Adam Guettel), and afterwards conductor Marvin Hamlisch asked the audience to name the connection between the two. One woman in the front row blurted out that the composer of Piazza is “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s grandson.” Ha! (Guettel is Rodgers’ grandson.) It became a running gag throughout the evening. “We knew Rodgers and Hammerstein were close, but…”

Hamlisch is a bit of a cutup. When one couple arrived late into the concert hall (why they weren’t escorted by an usher, especially since they had seats way up front, I don’t know), he stopped his banter, asked for their tickets, and showed them to their seats himself.

One Reply to “The gift was ours to borrow: Thank you, Marvin Hamlisch”

  1. Caught his last San Francisco appearance less than a year ago (!) at the re-opening of the Venetian Room at the Fairmont, with the ever-classy Maria Friedman and debonair Mark McVey. Took my 15 year old daughter, a jazz singer and musical theatre buff, and sat five feet from the piano. Hamlisch’s performance was classic – telling war stories and jokes, cleverly improvising, poking fun at himself. The average age of the audience was definitely north of 60 – a little sad that there weren’t more young people, but these days if the individual performances are more than 90 seconds long and there aren’t three judges sitting at a table out front critiquing every number and an 800 number you can call to vote someone off the stage, you’ve lost the biggest demographic.

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