As a Singer and a Songwriter, I have written many songs throughout my life…some great, some not so great. But having been raised in a home full of music from all the various genres that exist, I’ve always had a hankering for a Show Tune… I can remember as a kid, watching The Sound of Music, Calamity Jane, Oliver, Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, to name but a few. I loved the way the characters walked down the street, then started dancing and bursting into song. Now I know there are many folks out there who are gritting their teeth as they read this….‘Musicals’, you’re either a lover or a hater of them. I don’t really think there’s any middle ground. Me, I’m proud to say that I’m a lover. I throw my jazz-hands up in the air, every chance I get!!
Over the years, I’ve learnt to play a lot of show tunes From ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’, ‘The Candyman’, ‘Consider Yourself’ to ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine’. All these songs, thought- provoking and some, emotionally charged beyond belief.
I also had my copy of Jesus Christ Superstar on vinyl with the complete lyric sheet, which I could recite and sing in my sleep.
So there you have it… I’m a Musical fan…LOUD and PROUD.
Throughout my Song-writing years, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind (the Big dream) to write my own Musical. So I started to do a little research on the subject. It’s so vast and varied out there on the internet, that I didn’t know where to start. But I gave it a shot and one day, came across the Carnegie Hall website. On this site I found, ‘The Somewhere Project’, a citywide exploration of West Side Story. I adored this musical when I saw it and even had a copy of it on cassette (remember them). There was an online course, the companion piece to this project, taking you through the many ins and outs of the music, dance, staging, and story of West Side Story to inspire your own great work of art. I found this fascinating and it really helped focus me on my writing. Part of this course was the ‘Somewhere Challenge’. This entailed writing a piece of music, or a song with lyrics or a poem, inspired by the song, Somewhere’. I embraced this challenge and wrote my contribution, ‘Peace Will Prosper, A Duet for Violin and Cello’.
Having listened to ‘Somewhere’ a good few times, I felt that writing a lyric was not my way to go. Let’s face it, it’s a hard lyric to beat. I decided to challenge myself to write an instrumental, not something I do very often. I felt that by doing this, it would leave the melody very open, bare and vulnerable. In other words, it had to be strong.
In this Duet for Violin and Cello, both instruments represent the characters, Maria and Tony, (who sing the song ‘Somewhere’ in the Musical). While writing Peace Will Prosper, I imagined them both, like every other loving couple, in conversation, planning their future and declaring their undying love for one another. Now as we all know, things didn’t go according to plan for them at the end of West Side Story, However, the tragedy did bring a truce to the Jets and the Sharks vendetta against each other…hence the title Peace Will Prosper. You see, even through tragedy, love and peace can find a way. There is indeed a place for ALL of us in this world!!
I wrote ‘Peace Will Prosper, A Duet for Violin and Cello’, on piano. I put down a quick demo of the melody line and went away and listened to it for a few days. Then I sat down with my good friend Dave Fleming. We worked out the ‘conversation’ between the Violin and Cello and Dave went away and arranged the score.
and under the guidance of Dave Fleming and Daire Winston, recorded the piece in its entirety. We only did a handful of takes as it was all sounding pretty sweet from the get-go.. To record this piece in its entirety, without any drop-ins was very important to me, as I wanted to capture the ‘live’ atmosphere of everyone’s performance.
This piece of music is very dear to me. My dad was a great Violinist and he taught me a lot about music, melody in particular. He had a great ‘ear’ for a melody, as they say!! The day that we recorded ‘Peace Will Prosper, was the anniversary of his death and to have Sarah, his brother’s grand-daughter playing the Violin made it a very special day for me.
The sun shone, the music flowed and videographer, Susan Gleeson captured it all on film for posterity.
As for my own Musical, I have my ‘idea and I’ve written a few ‘show tunes’. Let’s just say that it’s a work in progress. Watch this space!!