BWW Preview: World Premiere of JIMMY WEBB'S NOCTURNE FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA at Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center
"Jimmy Webb is one of the only contemporary songwriters who can write songs right into the orchestra, and his songs have 17-layer emotions and sophisticated chord charges that are absolutely dazzling," - Linda Ronstadt
One of the greatest songwriters America has ever produced, Jimmy Webb has a catalogue of work performed by a veritable who's-who of American popular music. When you have written massive hits like "MacArthur Park," "Wichita Lineman," "The Worst That Could Happen," "Up, Up And Away," "By the Time I Get To Phoenix," to name just a few, what do you do for an encore? In Jimmy Webb's case, you write a symphonic piece for piano and orchestra. And on October the 24th the lucky residents of Bowling Green Kentucky will be the beneficiaries of Mr. Webb's largess. On that date they will see the world premiere of a Mr. Webb's "Nocturne For Piano and Orchestra", affectionately nicknamed: "Nocturne For "Lefty"" - after Mr. Webb's wife, PBS host, Laura Savini. The concert will take place at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center in Bowling Green, KY -the SKYPAC. Webb is the only artist to ever receive Grammy awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. He is a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
Bowling Green's cup has really runneth over because for the occasion Mr. Webb has recruited the extraordinary pianist Jeffrey Biegel to perform the work along with the Orchestra Kentucky under the direction of Maestro Jeff Reed, their Music Director. Mr. Webb created the orchestrations for the piece with the help of noted conductor and arranger Jeff Tyzik.
The evening's program will be rounded out by Webb taking the stage with Orchestra Kentucky to perform some of his best-known songs. It will be a very special occasion for Mr. Webb on many levels as the Orchestra Kentucky will also present the composer with their Lifetime Achievement Award at a special ceremony the next evening.
Jeffrey Biegel has become the "go-to" pianist for world premieres as he has been at the helm of several by such contemporary luminaries as Peter Schickele (alias P.D.Q. Bach), Peter Tork of the Monkees and Neil Sedaka in the last year alone.
"I get so tired of hearing people say there is no new classical and orchestral music," said Biegel. "Jimmy Webb has such an extraordinary gift of creating memorable melodies, that I can't wait to play this music before the public."
Mr. Webb spoke at length about the work: "This music originated in discussions I had with my wife about famous nocturnes such as Moonlight Sonata and others. The piece depicts different aspects of nightfall; the mathematical exactitude of life in the city, the splendor of night skies and full moons partially obscured by cloud, the gentle rise and fall of human conversation in social gatherings and the dizzying whirl of waltzing on a seaside esplanade. It is essentially an opportunity for the listener to contemplate their own experiences during the hours of darkness. It includes a personal tribute to the music of Miles Davis, and the smoky dives and small clubs where I performed in my early years: the kingdom of the lonely and disillusioned. "Lefty" is my wife, Laura Savini, of PBS fame, a raving beauty who is also a Southpaw. The notes have been inspired by her joy and devotion to art."
Mr. Tyzik said "It was a great pleasure to collaborate with Jimmy Webb on his new multi-faceted composition Nocturne for Piano and Orchestra (Nocturne for "Lefty"). I have been a great admirer of Jimmy's huge body of work since the 1960s and I was honored to be a part of orchestrating his beautiful music for symphony orchestra. Jimmy writes from the heart and continues to be an inspiration for all songwriters."
Biegel added "The sonic landscape of Jimmy's piece is instantly ear-catching and beautifully laid out for the piano. One reason I approached Jimmy is because he is a songwriter and his sense of melody and harmony suit the genre for piano and orchestra. He treats the piano in a unique style which immediately grabbed my attention the moment I received the piano part."
Webb has publicly lamented the absence of "the human element" from contemporary recordings; replaced by digital perfection, but hearing his music performed by a live symphony orchestra will certainly be an intensely "human" experience.
October 24th, Orchestra Kentucky under the direction of Maestro Jeff Reed, featuring soloist Jeffrey Biegel will present the world premiere of Jimmy Webb's "Nocturne for Piano and Orchestra," dedicated to his wife, Laura Savini. It promises to be a truly memorable evening.
October 24, 2016 - Monday 7:30pm
Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SkyPac)
Bowling Green, KY
- Peter Danish, Classical Editor