THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK ASSOCIATION SECOND ANNUAL GALA
Monday, September 16 at 7:30 PM
CELEBRATING SHELDON HARNICK
LAURA BENANTI, ROBERT CUCCIOLI, REBECCA LUKER, BRAD OSCAR, ED DIXON, JEFF HARNAR, LIZ CALLAWAY, JUDY KUHN, STEVEN SKYBELL, and ALEXANDRA SILBER
HOSTED BY KLEA BLACKHURST
NEW YORK’S PERSHING SQUARE SIGNATURE CENTER
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Liz Callaway, Judy Kuhn, Steven Skybell, Alexandra Silber, Carolyn Montgomery, Jeffrey Saver, and Rhyn McLemore Saver will join The American Songbook Association as they present their second annual gala “To Life! Celebrating Sheldon Harnick,” on Monday, September 16 at 7:30 PM. Highlighting the gala is the presentation of the 2019 ASA Lifetime Achievement Award to this legendary lyricist of iconic shows such as Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, She Loves Me, and more. The event takes place at the Pershing Square Signature Center’s Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre (480 West 42nd Street, NYC). Previously-announced talent currently scheduled to perform includes Laura Benanti, Robert Cuccioli, Ed Dixon, Adam Heller, Rebecca Luker, Brad Oscar, Melanie Moore, Samantha Massell, Alan Schmuckler, Jeff Harnar and Alex Rybeck, Kissy Simmons and Sidney Myer. The evening’s host is Klea Blackhurt. Music Director and pianist Eugene Gwozdz leads a quartet featuring Danny Bacher on reeds, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Mark McLean on drums. For tickets, please visit AmericanSongbookAssociation.org
Marilyn Lester, the ASA’s Executive Director, comments “Our annual gala is both a major fundraiser and a key method to spotlight the great treasures of American popular music. The core of our mission is to preserve and foster this immense cultural gift of the great songwriters and their work. We are thrilled that Mr. Harnick, whose songs have graced stages both in New York and around the world, is helping us raise money for our educational outreach and other methods of promoting the grand tradition of extraordinary songwriting and the joy it spreads.”
The event’s Honorary Co-Chairs are Joel Grey and Rita Gardner, with the Honorary Committee comprised of Sherman Yellen, Kerry Conte, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Allyson Tucker Mitchell, Danny Burstein, Jim Dale and Jamie de Roy.
The American Songbook Association presents their second annual gala “To Life! Celebrating Sheldon on Monday, September 16 at 7:30 PM at the Pershing Square Signature Center’s Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre (480 West 42nd Street, NYC).
Premium seating is $150. General orchestra seating is $75. General mezzanine seating is $45. Tickets and information are available at www.AmericanSongbookAssociation.org
SHELDON HARNICK was born in Chicago in 1924. Following his service in World War II, he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree at Northwestern University, majoring in violin. After working as a professional musician in and around Chicago, he moved to New York in 1950 to pursue a career in the musical theater.
Harnick’s first song for a Broadway show was the hilarious “Boston Beguine” for New Faces of 1952. He then contributed songs to the revues Two’s Company (starring Bette Davis), John Murray Anderson’s Almanac and The Littlest Revue. His collaboration with composer Jerry Bock produced such Broadway classics as Fiorello! (1959): Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award; Tenderloin (1960); She Loves Me (1963): Grammy Award; Fiddler on the Roof (1964): Tony Award; The Apple Tree (1966); and The Rothschilds (1970).
Other collaborations include A Christmas Carol with Michel Legrand (1981); Rex with Richard Rodgers (1976); A Wonderful Life with Joe Raposo (1986); and The Phantom Tollbooth with Arnold Black (1995). For Dragons and Malpractice Makes Perfect, he provided book lyrics and music. He has written songs for the films The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and Blame It On Rio (1984) both with music by Cy Coleman; and Aaron’s Magic Village (1995) with Michel Legrand.
In the 1970s Mr. Harnick expanded his field of activities by translating L’Histoire du Soldat (Stravinski), L’Enfant et les Sortileges (Ravel), Bizet’s Carmen, and Lehar’s The Merry Widow. This latter translation was commissioned for the New York City Center production starring Beverly Sills. Ms. Sills’ recording won a Grammy Award as the year’s best-recorded opera. Mr. Harnick also translated Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy’s film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg for the stage.
The 1970s also saw Mr. Harnick’s entry into the world of opera. With composer Jack Beeson, he has provided the librettos for Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1975), Dr. Heidegger’s Fountain of Youth (1978), and Cyrano (1994). Other operas include Love in Two Countries with Thomas Shepard (1991) and Coyote Tales with Henry Mollicone (1998).
In 2015, Harbinger Records released, Sheldon Harnick: Hidden Treasures. The two-CD set includes more than 50 rare demo recordings written for 17 of his shows, with performances by Harnick and composer Jerry Bock, as well as Audra McDonald, Brian d’Arcy James, Hugh Martin, Margery Gray Harnick, and Charlotte Rae, to name a few.
Mr. Harnick has won a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, two New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, three gold records and a platinum record. He and his wife, photographer Margery Gray, have collaborated on two extraordinary picture books, The Outdoor Museum (Not Your Usual Images of New York) and KOI: A Modern Folktale which features her photographs and his poetry.
This year, the first ever Fiddler on the Roof documentary, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, is being released in over 126 movie theaters nationwide with Sheldon at the forefront as the film’s narrator. The film includes tales from incarnation to the most recent Yiddish language production of the iconic musical.
Sheldon and Margery celebrated their Golden Anniversary in 2015 and have two children, Beth and Matthew, and two grandchildren. Mr. Harnick is a longtime member of both the Dramatists Guild and the Songwriters Guild of America.
The American Songbook Association is an arts and educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to stimulating and promoting public interest in the legacy of American song, both classic and new. The ASA publishes the long-established magazine Cabaret Scenes, conducts educational programs in New York City public schools, and creates performances serving its audience of students, seniors, and beyond. The organization strives to inspire, transform, empower, and create torchbearers for future generations so they may understand, appreciate and embrace the historical and cultural importance of America’s rich musical heritage.
Through the talents of composers, lyricists, singers, music directors, arrangers, and other creatives, America has given this gift to the world. The music of our heritage is known, sung, recorded, performed and prized in every corner of the globe. The ASA is committed to preserving and spreading this living art form, in the history and the development of the many genres that comprise it, from cabaret, popular song, musical theater, jazz, film, light opera, and more.
The ASA collects, preserve, exhibits and interprets a growing archive of song, and those who created and sustain its lifeblood. Education and Outreach Program takes the extraordinary heritage of American music and song into the New York City public schools. Professionals in the field interact with the kids, introducing them to the legacy of the music through conversation and performance. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, with students learning about the various music genres such as popular and jazz, but how the material can be interpreted. With a focus on storytelling, the music opens gateways of personal expression, encouraging students to explore their creativity.