Music From TWELFTH NIGHT, Starring Hathaway, McDonald, Esparza & More, Released On CD 10/27

By: Aug. 24, 2009

On October 27, Hem's original score for the summer's most talked about production will be released on Waveland/Nettwerk Records. The Brooklyn-based band received critical acclaim upon the debut of their original music set to The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of 'Twelfth Night.' "Lovely original songs," wrote the New York Post, while the New York Times raved that Hem's "handsome" music added "color, wit, life to almost every scene...the sound evoking a distant era without straining for period authenticity," and Newsday declared, "this exceptionally musical production has beautiful folky-Elizabethan-Irish-Scottish-doo-wop songs...someone, please, ask Hem to write a show." In addition, New York Magazine called it "triumphant," Variety called it "soul-stirring" and The Hollywood Reporter said the music is "hauntingly memorable."

Hem collaborated with 'Twelfth Night's' all-star cast and using a palette of original orchestral cues, traditional reels, and their own uniquely cinematic sound, Hem created each of the 28 tracks on the record, which features vocals from Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, Raúl Esparza, Dave Pittu and Jon Patrick Walker. Hem worked closely with director Daniel Sullivan to ensure that the music was fully integrated into the production, including having Hem band member Steve Curtis perform onstage alongside the cast. Hem, whose musical credits include four previously released studio albums, created a dazzling interpretation of the Shakespeare classic, skillfully combining the whimsy of the live production with both classical and modern musical arrangements.

Hem's 'Twelfth Night' is a perfect way to relive one of New York's hottest summer productions. The record features The Illyrian Marching Band and The Gowanus Radio Orchestra and a wide array of string and percussion instruments, and woodwinds. Hem is Dan Messe (piano), Steve Curtis (guitar, harmony vocal, percussion), Gary Maurer (mandolin, guitar), Sally Ellyson (vocals), Mark Brotter (drums) and George Rush (bass).

"The cast were in the studio with us - sometimes recording live while we recorded whatever ensemble also happened to be present at the time, and sometimes singing to existing tracks (we tried to work around these incredibly busy performers' schedules, and we took them when we could get them," says HEM's Dan Messe.

Messe continues, "It was our goal to both capture the live energy of the Delacorte production, and at the same time create an idealized version of the score. In order to best achieve this balancing act, we tried as much as possible to have the singers there together with either the band from the show (The "Illlyrian Marching Band" as we dubbed them) or some semblance of Hem and the Gowanus Radio Orchestra. In some cases - especially with the extra songs we wrote for Audra, Anne and Raul - we were really flying by the seat of our pants, and it would have been impossible had it not been for the incredible musicianship of these artists."

Hem have been in the studio recently completing their next studio album titled 'Departure and Farewell,' which will be released in Spring 2010.

The album is priced at $12 and is is currently available for preorder. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


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