Sunday, July 12, 2009

BEGIN FROM HERE: A Play's Progress

In 2005, I wrote, and first performed, a one-man play called MUSE of FIRE, about the world of the orchestral conductor. MUSE of FIRE is the only play I know to focus exclusively on the secrets of the conductor’s art; the only one to have as its protagonist, the legendary (and legendarily difficult) Maestro Charles Bruck, Master of the Pierre Monteux Conducting School in Maine. The play was shepherded, and then directed, by my good friend, (and Tony Award-winner) Charles Nelson Reilly.

Since I first premiered MUSE in July 2005, I have performed it approaching fifty times, in cities as large as Chicago, Baltimore and Halifax and as small as Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia and Sherman, Connecticut, in venues as intimate as the H. D. Moore Parish Hall in Steuben, Maine and as magnificent as the nine-hundred seat Imperial Theater, in Saint John, New Brunswick.

MUSE of FIRE is for me a labor of love—I will perform it practically anywhere—but it is also a business, one I could not be happier pursuing. I start my blog now because the play goes on the road again this week, with performances in a number of cities in Midcoast and Northern Maine.

Now, I begin to recount "A Play’s Progress", its writing and evolution, the searching out of more opportunities to perform it (I do much of the booking myself) the response of critics and audiences, my reaction to venues, communities, individual performances and to audiences.

Who do I hope will follow my blog, in a world where it seems everyone’s every move is chronicled on the web in intimate detail? It is surely for those who have seen the play, or plan to see it in the future, desiring to know more; it is for family, friends and colleagues who have followed my career since I made my professional debut as a conductor and composer more than thirty years ago; it is for alumni of the Pierre Monteux School and students of Charles Bruck, who want to compare my experiences to their own; it is for conductors interested in the thoughts of a fellow traveler; it is for classical music lovers, who are intrigued by the mysteries of the conductor's art; it is also for aspiring actors, playwrights and arts entrepreneurs, interested in how I wrote, promote, price and schedule the play—and what it feels like to tour it “under the radar,” without significant financial resources or many “famous” connections; This is a blog of how I keep my dream alive—a cliché, to be sure, but only because it is true.

To be honest, every blogger also writes for himself, and for posterity, as if to say to all who will listen, “this is who I am, and this is what I did.” The gifts we are given—whether by God or biology—are as unique as we are as individuals. We are here only once and we must make the most of the talents and time that we have on this earth.

“Tell the Truth, but tell it slant,” Julie Harris said with a twinkle in her eye while performing as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, the most famous play directed by my beloved departed Charles Nelson Reilly. And that is what I aspire to do, with your kind indulgence.

Look for more soon. In the meantime, background, synopsis, bios, photos and more can be found on the website:


  1. I would love to see this play! I am an alumni of the Monteux School ,attending in 1990 and 1991.That may be a while ago,but I still hear and feel that voice of Bruck in my head.They are the two most intense summers of my life.So many poor conducting students could have made their lives so much easier if they just remembered,"one is down".I still hear Bruck screaming that....I came away with PTSD from both summer sessions.

  2. I will be publishing a list of upcoming performances on the website and blog soon. I hope you will have an opporutunity to see MUSE of FIRE and introduce yourself backstage afterwards. David