Mary Ehlinger ’76 is the musical director for The Fireside Theatre, the only Actor’s Equity dinner theater in Wisconsin.
The composition competition founded by Paula Brusky (Music) is one of several initiatives intended to promote knowledge of the bassoon.
Musicians hit national note
When the New York Pops honored Bob Hope’s legacy with its 28th birthday gala at Carnegie Hall in May, Mary Ehlinger ’76 appeared on the program alongside composers including George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter.
The concert event entitled “Celebrate Hope” featured Ehlinger’s patriotic piece “When Hope Was There.” She wrote it in the 1990s for a New York City Veteran’s Day celebration honoring Hope.
After Hope died in 2003, the piece was modified and performed for a national TV audience. This time, renowned arranger Doug Besterman expanded the 32-bar piece to four minutes.
Ehlinger says seeing the performance was incredible: “I was giggling through the whole thing. I couldn’t get over it.”
The Carnegie Hall rendition included a 75-piece orchestra, drum cadence, dance break, swing section and 60 children clad in vests and hats and carrying golf clubs in homage to Hope.
A premiere event
Meanwhile, the winners of the Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition (BCMCC) founded by Paula Brusky (Music) heard the world premiere of their compositions during the International Double Reed Society Conference at Arizona State University last week. The conference is the largest gathering of double-reed players in the world.
Brusky says, “One of our biggest goals in the BCMCC was to bring new music to bassoon players and to give the bassoon more exposure. So we’re hoping that by presenting the concert at such a big venue where bassoon players will be present, that they’ll share the works and be excited to bring them back to their communities to do performances.”
The competition was open to anyone in the U.S., with no age restrictions and no exclusions for previously published composers. As a result, Brusky says, the number of applications for the inaugural competition exceeded expectations.
The judges chose four winners. They include two young, promising composers, Jonathan Bartz (“Concertino for Bassoon, Piano and Three Strings”) and Stefan Cwik (“Eight Miniatures for Chamber Ensemble”), as well as two well-known composers, Arthur Gottschalk (“American Nights”) and Lewis Nielson (“What About You?”).
The bassoon compositions are available online for preview or purchase.