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Tony Nominee Q&A with Jonathan Tunick

Double nominated for Best Orchestrations for both LoveMusik and 110 in the Shade, Jonathan Tunick's Broadway other credits include The Apple Tree, A Chorus Line, The Color Purple, Sweeney Todd, Titanic, Passion, Into the Woods, Nine, A Little Night Music, Follies and Company. He has scored films for Mike Nichols, Franco Zeffirelli and Sidney Lumet, plus Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and TV classics "Murder, She Wrote" and "Columbo." On records: arranger/conductor for Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, Itzhak Perlman, Placido Domingo, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and Paul McCartney. With his Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar, he is one of only five people holding all four major awards.

Two nominations! How does that feel?

Umm, Ummm… I'm speechless.

Did you know going into them that they were going to come up at the same time?

The experience has been amazing and hectic because I had to do both at the same time. We have a general principle which is to say yes to everything because something will be postponed in this business. And sure enough, LoveMusik got postponed – right on top of 110 in the Shade.

Was it tough working on both show's orchestrations at once?

Doing the both simultaneously was tough but I wrote every note myself, I didn't farm anything out and until this week I maintained my health. (At the time of the interview, Jonathan was suffering from a cold).

You've always been known as a constant worker – what's on your plate at the moment?

As I just said to Hal Prince, I'm available for the rest of my life. I just started to work on a new show with Hal Prince which is an operetta with music by Johann Strauss that I'm adapting, with new lyrics by Ellen Fitzu and a book by Richard Nelson.

LoveMusik had so many powerful musical moments, how did you approach orchestrating them?

LoveMusik is so powerful. Well, much of it was music that I knew very well and loved and some of it was music was stuff that I wasn't at all familiar with as well. I found a trick with Weill, and that's that he's done all the work, and you just need to keep out of his way and to not gussy it up, and it's perfect.

I bet that's a strategy that doesn't work with everyone…

I've come to believe that the mark of a mature artist, that he is the guy who knows not to do anything. Ralph Lauren made a fortune doing that.

How did you find out about the nominations?

I found out about the nominations yesterday, a friend called. I was up in the country and got a call at 9am saying congratulations…and congratulations.

Photo of Jonathan Tunick, with Patti LuPone, by Kerry Long

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