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Spotlight: Dick Hyman shakes up upcoming performance

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 3, 2013
Gloria Musicae consists of 36 auditioned singers who studied voice at a university or professional level or under conservatory teachers. Photo by Bruce Lehman.
Gloria Musicae consists of 36 auditioned singers who studied voice at a university or professional level or under conservatory teachers. Photo by Bruce Lehman.
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The practically unknown independent film, “Alan & Naomi,” opens with a visual sequence of children playing stickball, in 1942, in the streets of Brooklyn, with instrumental underscoring that plays quietly during the sequence.

“I came (back) to the film years later, and it occurred to me that I could make a vocal piece out of it for chorus,” Dick Hyman, the composer of the film’s score, says.

Hyman is a Venice-based renowned jazz pianist and composer who has scored many Woody Allen films and has more than 100 albums recorded to his name. The 36-member professional choral group Gloria Musicae often features the work of living American composers, such as Hyman. He’s been working with the singers for more than a decade.

When Gloria Musicae’s Artistic Director Joseph Holt and advisory board member June LeBell approached Hyman, a fellow board member, about creating a program highlighting his career’s work at the Sarasota Opera House, Hyman immediately recognized the opportunity.

Although he has arranged other composers’ compositions specifically for Gloria Musicae, this concert features the first composition he wrote for the group. It’s a jazz piece called “Bottle it Up” that features nonsense lyrics and composed scat.

For instance, aside from the “ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-doos,” there’s a portion of dialogue between the men and women, when the men ask the name of the beautiful lady they have just seen: “Is it Annette? Is it June? Is it Judy?” they ask. Hyman says he based the names on women he knows, such as LeBell. Finally, the men say, “It’s Julia!” Julia is Hyman’s wife. (But he’s planning on keeping that aspect a surprise, so if you should see his wife, mum’s the word). Fifteen-year-old Maria Wirries will solo on the piece.

In addition to this song, there will be about 18 others on the program bill, including solos from Hyman. The chorus will perform a few of Hyman’s arrangements of Willard Epsy’s music. But, mostly, this concert highlights his movie scores and will feature clips from popular films such as “Moonstruck” and “Everyone Says I Love You.”

In fact, there’s a scene from Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You,” in which actor Patrick Cranshaw, playing the recently deceased grandpa, rises from his coffin to sing Hyman’s arrangement, “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think).” Wirries will replace grandpa for the solo in this concert — of course, she’ll sing it an octave higher.

“You can’t help but love working with him,” Holt says. “He’s like your favorite grandfather who comes in town, and he’s such a genius with what he does.”

Hyman has attended almost every one of the five rehearsals for the group’s upcoming April 7 performance. The experience working with living composers interests the group.

“For them to be able to offer insight into the piece from their perspective, it illuminates things in a different way, and the group responds to that,” Holt says.

The chorus will work next with composer Alan Gershwin, for the July 4 concert. Gershwin is the son of famed composer George Gershwin.

If You Go
Gloria Musicae’s “Music in Reel Time” featuring Dick Hyman and his trio
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7
Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.
Cost: $35 for concert; $75 for concert and reception
Info: Visit or call 360-7399 for more information.