HOME INFO NEWS FORUM PHOTOS MEDIA LINKS ABOUT US

“This is a very poignant moment for me,” Fraser says. “This is something I never thought would happen for me again – standing on stage with Julie. Working with her is the best. We’ve had a musical affinity from Day One. We’re kindred spirits.”


Emmy
July 2008
By Libby Slate

Composer Ian Fraser Joins Julie Andrews at the Hollywood Bowl

When Julie Andrews headlines two Hollywood Bowl concerts July 18 and July 19, Television Academy music peer group governor Ian Fraser will be right up there with her.

The eleven-time Emmy Award winner will conduct the evenings titled “Julie Andrews–The Gift of Music.”

In the first half, Andrews will host five singers presenting classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, the duo with whom she is closely identified thanks to The Sound of Music and the 1957 live television broadcast of Cinderella.

After intermission, she’ll be narrating a concert version of Simeon’s Gift, the children’s book she wrote with daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.

Fraser composed the music for the 45-minute piece, which will be performed by the five vocalists and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The Bowl concerts follow the program’s premiere performance, scheduled a week earlier in Kentucky. They mark a welcome return for the stage and screen icon, who has performed only rarely since botched vocal-cord surgery a decade ago damaged her voice.

Julie’s been doing lectures. These will be the first times [in a while] she’s been out on a stage in public in a musical environment,” says Fraser, who became her musical director in 1973, after working with her on her 1972-73 ABC variety show; two of his Emmys were for Andrews specials. “She’ll be singing a little, in a low register. It’s a big step for her.”

Andrews had begun writing children’s books while she was still performing. Simeon’s Gift, published in 2003, tells the story of a humble minstrel who embarks on a journey to find songs to impress his beloved, only to find that the true gifts are within himself.

Fraser composed a theme for the story, and when publisher HarperCollins requested a CD to include with the book, he wrote music to accompany Andrews’ narration.

“Then, in the fall of 2006, Julie called and said, ‘Emma and I want to turn this into a children’s musical,’” relates Fraser, whose most recent TV project was AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies. “I said, ‘Wonderful!’ Who’s going to write the songs?’ She said, ‘You are.’”

Fraser doesn’t write lyrics, but not to worry: Andrews had recruited lyricist John Bucchino (Broadway’s A Catered Affair) for the task. “You’ll like him,” she assured Fraser. Oh, and by the way, “He’s in New York.”

“That’s not going to work,” the Los Angeles-based composer responded. But as it turned out, it did.

“John sent me a lyric, and an hour later I had a song,” Fraser recounts. “Then I played it on an MP3 for Julie. Sometimes I’d send him a melody and he’d write the words. That’s how we worked. We wrote the whole score long distance.”

In all, there are eleven songs, as well as underscoring to the narration. “I wanted to shoot the composer,” Fraser says with a chuckle. “The music was so difficult to play!”

After workshops and readings in Sag Harbor, NY, where Hamilton lives, Simeon’s Gift had its world premiere last November in the town’s Bay Street Theatre.

In attendance was Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, who had long wanted Andrews to tour in an R&H show. It was his idea to pair the two elements of the current program; Broadway orchestrator Harold Wheeler, now musical director for Dancing with the Stars, provided the symphonic arrangements.

Fraser, who last conducted at the Bowl ten years ago for a Michael Crawford concert, will perform the “Gift of Music” program in Atlanta and Philadelphia in August; Simeon’s Gift may later tour schools and be presented overseas.

”It’s going to be a challenging concert for me,” he says of his summer engagements. “Non-stop music for two hours.”

Challenging—and memorable. “This is a very poignant moment for me,” Fraser says. “This is something I never thought would happen for me again – standing on stage with Julie. Working with her is the best. We’ve had a musical affinity from Day One. We’re kindred spirits.”


Home /// Info /// News /// Photos /// Media /// Forum /// Links /// About Us

All Rights Reserved

Julie Andrews Online