Metro Weekly

Library of Congress offers a rare concert with three Broadway composers

It’s not every day you get to hear from three of today’s leading Broadway composers performing their own work. “They’re also bringing people to perform with them,” Mark Horowitz explains, “so they can do duets and things like that. They’re not limited to just doing solos.”

As a senior music specialist at the Library of Congress and the in-house expert on Broadway, Horowitz has outdone himself with this year’s chief musical theater-focused offering as part of the Library of Congress’s concert series. The three composers to be showcased on Friday, Oct. 17, are: Steven Lutvak, whose A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder won this year’s Tony Award for Best Musical; Jeanine Tesori, who has scored Tony-nominated success in the past decade with Thoroughly Modern Millie, Violet and Caroline, or Change; and David Yazbek, the Tony-nominated composer to such recent comedic shows as The Full Monty and Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Steven Lutvak Photo by Rex Lott
Steven Lutvak
Photo by Rex Lott

The concert is a way, according to Horowitz, “to celebrate how the genre is evolving and continuing.” It’s the first time the Library of Congress has corralled three musical-theater composers to perform on one bill, and builds on nearly a century’s worth of work in collecting the papers of major songwriters, everyone from the Gershwins to Leonard Bernstein to Jonathan Larson. In recent decades the Library of Congress has presented concerts toasting singular stars and shows, including Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim, as well as a 50th anniversary tribute to West Side Story based on the library’s collections. This federal research institution also occasionally presents lectures focused on musical theater, such as scholar Warren Hoffman’s talk about race and the American musical this Friday, Oct. 10, and a discussion with Tony Award-winning Passing Strange playwright Stew, on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Horowitz also factors into Michael Feinstein’s new Library of Congress video podcast series, most notably in sharing his discoveries rifling through the library’s collections, such as how the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “Getting to Know You” came to be. (As a teaser: This popular tune was actually a discarded leftover from South Pacific — and we have Mary Martin to thank for its eventual inclusion in The King and I.)

The upcoming concert is yet another way to spotlight Broadway’s present — and its future. “Not only are [these composers] young and vibrant — or comparatively young,” Horowitz says, “but they’re eclectic and different from each other. And I think it really will be an extraordinary concert that way.” — Doug Rule

Steven Lutvak, Jeanine Tesori and David Yazbek perform Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m., at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress, First and Independence Avenues SE. Tickets are free. Call 202-707-8000 or visit loc.gov/concerts.

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