Monday, November 07, 2011

Sunday in Symphony Hall with Sondheim (but no piano)

Event Recap

Stephen Sondheim in conversation with Chris Jones
Chicago Tribune Literary Prize; part of Chicago Humanities Festival
Symphony Hall, Chicago
November 6, 2011

It's pretty much a given that Stephen Sondheim is the greatest living legend in the field of musical theater.

But you wouldn't get much of an argument from me--though I might cite Chuck Berry, Paul McCartney, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bill Russell or Vin Scully--if you wanted to call him the greatest living legend in any field.

And while he was ostensibly receivng the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for his work as a writer--of some of the most eloquent lyrics ever, as well as wonderful music--he is also one of the most articulate speakers I've ever heard.

So although his Q&A session with Tribune theater critic Chris Jones lasted just 45 minutes--about half the length of this public conversation in March 2010--it was still worth the trek down to Symphony Hall.

Given the setting, you'd have thought someone might have made a piano handy, in case the great composer wanted to expound on his answer to one of Jones' questions about his lyrics and shows.

The Tribune's Mark Caro gives a good recap of Sunday's conversation here; in which he cites two of the Sondheim's most interesting comments--about "Maria" and "A Weekend in the Country.").

If you still can, see Sondheim's Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater this weekend--he attended a performance last Sunday afternoon; assume he was pleased--and if not, his new collection of annotated lyrics (Look I Made A Hat) should make a great gift for yourself or anyone who loves musical theater.

Suffice it to say that even without the music, I enjoyed hearing a few words from a true master.

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