Posts Tagged ‘joe calarco’

As described in a previous post, The Memory Show’s music was/is composed as a complete and cyclic score, fully integrated with the dramatic journey these two characters take. At the heart of the score (literally #8 in a #15 tune score) is the song “Me and My Mother”. Ironically, though most songs from this show are extremely dependant on the context in which they are presented, “Me and My Mother” has proven to be one of maybe two that can be presented with minimal, if not any, context; luckily, the context only augments its impacts.

When Lynne sent me the orchestration (one of the more eagerly awaited scores) she called it a Pas de deux between the Violin and the Oboe. At first I thought to myself, “That’s sweet…but why not between the accompaniment and the vocal line?”. Of course, the answer presented itself to me, whether or not this was Lynne’s intention. The entire show is a Pas de deux between Leslie and Catherine. Mothers and Daughters dance around each other their entire lives (mostly metaphorically, but maybe sometimes literally). In fact, during the first days of rehearsal our esteemed leader Joe Calarco had them play with that kind of a special relationship to each other by having Leslie try to be as close as possible to Catherine whilst Catherine tried to stay as far away from Leslie as possible…and then they’d switch. It was a brilliant exercise to help them discover just what kind of “dance” they do as Mother and Daughter (though I’m pretty sure Joe would define his intentions differently, so please know this is only my observation).

In most great orchestrations, the orchestrator doesn’t just take the piano part (or “reduction”) and assign notes to instruments. He/she creates colors, moods, lines, reinforces themes, manipulates themes all in the hope of not only achieving aesthetic beauty, but of fueling the dramatic thrust of the show. In “Me and My Mother” Lynne signifies the difficult notion that, when it comes to our relationship to our parents, we are “exactly alike, but different in every way.”

The Oboe only shows its two-headed face in three of the 23 charts (15 main, 8 transition). Those songs are “Me and My Mother”, and its harmonic/lyric sister songs “I’m Her Apple” and “Apple and Tree” (the phrase apple and tree appears in the lyric of Me and My Mother as “I’m her apple and she and my tree”). This is extremely significant whether an audience member realizes it or not. In such a clarinet and flute driven score, the appearance of a double reed is something special. How Lynne goes on to treat the Oboe line (in relation to the themes of the show and the Violin) further surprised and excited me.

Naturally, the orchestration is eased into, the Oboe making its first appearance in m.5 (see figure 1) and the violin follows in m.6 and their treatment harkens a call and response. Then the violin speaks first in m.7 to which the Oboe responds in m.8 (just as in the previous example) in contrary motion. This dance continues in m.9-10 until in m.11 (at the next A section) the are finally dancing together in oblique motion, which is nice…imagine two dancers dance apart and then finally touch hands and moving together. This lasts only three measures at which time the violin breaks off for two measures. Don’t worry though; they meet again in measure 16. This brings us to the first chorus and the counterpoint just begins to blossom into something a little more florid. The BEST moment though is when the Violin finally answers (figure 2) the opening Oboe line (which also happens to be a variation on the Mother and Daughter’s shared theme) in a direct quotation right after the lyric “I’m made out of her but she’s not made of me” (this happens in both choruses…because it’s too good to happen just once).

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(Figure 1)

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(Figure 2)

The return to the A brings a Mozart-esque G5 quietly soaring atop the piano and vocal in the violin before it is joined by the Oboe again two measures later (you know, that scene in Amadeus when Salieri hears Mozart’s octet, I believe, for the first time with that soaring oboe, or was it clarinet (?), line before he actually he’s the perv from the other room when Mozart takes the baton from the fill-in conductor – consequently one of my favorite scenes in that movie). From here on out it is a mixture of obliquely moving motives and florid counterpoint until the end of the second chorus where we get a rare, though beautiful, contrary moving couplet (Figure 3). Not surprisingly, also take note the melody on the last “Me and My Mother”.

Figure 3 blog 3

(Figure 3)

Lynne likes to say that, so far, through these blogs I make her seem smarter than she actually is…but as you can see she (and as I will continue to point out whenever I write about her orchestration) is quite brilliant and I’m sure knows exactly what she’s doing. At the risk of sounding extremely cheesy, our dance together as collaborators, though already three (jeez!) years old, has only just begun!

And just like that, it’s begun.

When THE MEMORY SHOW made its World Premiere at Barrington Stage Company in 2010, you would have been hard-pressed to convince me that I would be sitting in a rehearsal studio at a theater on 42nd Street with some of the most brilliant theatre artists I have ever known as we prepare for the show’s Off-Broadway debut.

And yet here we are.

I would like to get sentimental. After all, it’s a very personal show. It’s the same director and music director and actors, with all of whom Zach and I are breathlessly in love. It’s being produced by people who are loving and gentle with it, who are passionate and whose work I admire. I am grateful beyond belief. I am happy beyond repair.

But I’m not a sentimental person.  So all I can do is sit in the room, enjoy the moment, and breathe.

Catherine CoxRehearsal, Day 1

Catherine Cox
Rehearsal, Day 1

~Sara