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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beyond A Synaptic Spark

Join me in a harmless fantasy. Based on more than superficial exposure to their craft, you're confident two creative artists from differing fields would be excellent collaborators. For example, a composer and a filmmaker or a conceptual artist and an author or a sculptor and a playwright. For which two artists would you enjoy brokering an introduction? Let your imagination run free and share it with me and others.

A few years ago, after enjoying his music for a long time and his lyrics since "West Side Story" made me want to own a purple shirt and dance in the streets, I read Stephen Sondheim's two part memoir - "Finishing The Hat" and "Look I Made A Hat". Based on Sondheim's comments in those books about the craft of lyric writing, arranging to introduce author Julian Barnes to Stephen Sondheim so that they might collaborate gives me gooseflesh.

I'm confident if I could get these two giants together, their joint efforts would be superb. Reading Barnes's most recent book ("Levels of Life"), it was hard not to hear Sondheim's dark score from "Sweeney Todd". But beyond that unmistakable synaptic spark was even more. Sondheim's approach to lyrics and Barnes's prose are of a piece - elegant, simple and concise. Sondheim simply must read "Flaubert's Parrot" or "Arthur and George" or "The Sense Of An Ending"; any of those Barnes novels will inspire him.

So, I arrange this introduction and then not long after, a Broadway musical opens: "Before She Met Me" - Music & lyrics - Stephen Sondheim; book by Julian Barnes. I won't even ask for a broker's fee. Who are you going to get together and what will their joint effort be?

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