October 29, 2012

Ron Spigelman on Harold Arlen

Guest conductor Ron Spigelman joins the RPO November 2 and 3 for a tribute to the great American songwriter Harold Arlen. Read Spigelman's thoughts on what makes a great song, which composer should be on the cover of the great American songbook, and more.

Harold Arlen
It hit me early on that these incredible artists and composers have not only left an indelible mark on our culture, but have also been unforgettable to me. A great song is one that I think about or even occasionally whistle (or sing) for no apparent reason. It stops being subjective when a melody or a line is conjured up from my subconscious. It stays there because it is meant to be there and it's now a part of me. Some may define great music as the way something is composed. I have always thought of it as something that effects me viscerally and never leaves me.

The songs of Harold Arlen have always felt that way to me. "Over the Rainbow" is one of those songs that is not far from the surface at all times, and I know I'm not alone on that one. The turn of phrase in many of his songs clearly has a lineage to blues, which is why jazz musicians love to do versions of his songs. More than that, if I were to describe his music, I would simply say that it's timeless and always is an in-the-moment experience. If it was up to me, I would put Harold Arlen on the cover of the Great American Songbook. I am so looking forward to doing this concert next weekend!

--Ron Spigelman

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