The year 2019 is now over, and it was quite an eventful year. Two of my pieces, Scenes from Istanbul and Scenes from Lisbon were performed in Lisbon on September 4. They were written for two pianos and played by Duo Harmonia which consists of two outstanding pianists named Pinar Basgoze and Susana Pinto. Pinar grew up in Turkey and Susana grew up in Portugal, so the titles appropriately reflect each of their native lands.
Duo Harmonia is located here in Minneapolis, where Pinar and Susana are colleagues and friends of mine. We teach at MacPhail Center for Music which is a non-profit organization that has about 16,000 students enrolled, making it one of the largest - if not THE largest - community school in North America.
There is now a third piece that accompanies the other two selections, and it’s called Scenes from Minneapolis. All three pieces will be performed Friday, March 13th at Hamline University in the beautiful Sundin Music Hall auditorium. This third piece forms the completion of a Triptych, a three-movement piece depicting our unique heritage as performers and composer:
I. Scenes from Istanbul (Dedicated to Pinar Basgoze)
II. Scenes from Lisbon (Dedicated to Susana Pinto)
III. Scenes from Minneapolis (celebration my own heritage as a Minneapolitan).
These two pieces (SFI and SFL) were also performed on November 16 for the Spotlight Series held at MacPhail Center for Music as well as the Thursday Musical Artist Series on January 16, 2020
Here’s a little background on Scenes from Minneapolis that I think is quite interesting. I actually wrote this piece nine years ago for an overture to an opera that I never finished. It is subtitled “Busking On The Mall” (The Mall refers to Nicollet Mall which is located in downtown Mpls. There’s a recording of it located under Piano Works in case you are in hearing it). Recently, I played this recording of it for my wife, Akiko, whose ears for music are tremendous as she hears many things that slip past me. As we were listening, all of a sudden she said, “Hey, this piece could be your third movement”! I said “what a great idea” and I shared it with Pinar and Susana and they both loved it! Originally it was written for only one piano, but I spent the following week and re-wrote it as a two-piano piece. They are rehearsing it as I am writing this blog.
Another project I am working on is putting together a book of all the scores and songs I collaborated on with my dear friend David Livingston. David is the Music Director for Nativity Lutheran, where I met him 20 years ago. He hired me as the keyboardist. He is a woodwind specialist and a master of the recorder. My experiences working with him have been so rich in variety. He programs some of the usual Sunday morning-type hymns, but his main focus employs a universalist kind of music that includes a vast range of musical styles such as Jazz, Celtic, Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, Global, popular songs, Broadway musicals, and a body of eclectic titles that makes one breathless with so many divine offerings, invariably preserving and honoring the sacred messages that each musical selection is guiding us towards. His musical choices are a sermon onto itself. They celebrate the sacred and divine uniqueness that we all share, making us whole and renewed if this is what we are seeking.
Together we created at least 50 works of music, with David mostly writing the words while I wrote the music. I’m in the middle of cleaning up all the scores to make sure they are presentable in the clearest and most pleasing way possible. I dearly love the work we’ve done together and hope our music will enjoy “a place at the table“ among the mighty volumes of inspired sacred music.
Sunday In A Park...
During this summer, I am playing “Sunday in the park with George” at the Guthrie Theater.
It's an intriguing and beautiful show by Stephen Sondheim.
You will love the show. So well acted & sang and accompanied by gorgeous orchestration by 13 piece orchestra.
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by James Lapine
directed by Joseph Haj
June 17 - August 20, 2017
Scenes from Istanbul
Between the shows, I am also busy editing a piece I wrote last summer called "Scenes from Istanbul.
I am so thrilled that my friends and amazing pianists Pinar Basgove and Susana Pinto will be performing the piece this fall at Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music.
Thanksgiving Concert at Nativity Lutheran Church on November 23
Date:November 23 (Wednesday)
Time: 7:00 pm
Place:Nativity Lutheran Church - 3312 Silver Lake Rd NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Here is one of the songs I wrote. "The Doors of Love are Always Open"
Hope you enjoy
Some Enchanted Evenings ~ 🎵
I hope you are still enjoying the summer.
I have been spending most of my summer at the Guthrie Theater, playing in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”, directed by Joseph Haj.
It is running from June 19 to August 28th. Lovely show – please do come!
I'll be conducting the last week!
Here is my arrangement of "Someone to Watch Over Me” Music by George Gershwin, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin from the musical "Oh, Kay" (1926) . This is a teaching piece that I wrote for a Jazz lesson.
Sheet Music is available from HERE (click).
I am playing with the wonderful violinist Elise Parker. Together we are performing with David Gonzalez and his fabulous show "The Frog Bride" at the Children's Theatre. Frog Bride features all 5 movements of Prokofiev's music. They're really beautiful. Some are filled with jazz-like harmonies, some are longing for home, some are like a sun-filled day. It's amazing writing really especially how easily they seem to fit into the Frog Bride story. They're short pieces and the kids are totally enthralled with the music and with the amazing David Gonzalez. He magically opens a portal of energy creating a rich imaginative world filled with myriads of colorful characters. It's high art and it reaches all ages. Please come if you can!
Date: January 12 - February 28, 2016.
Place: Cargill Stage, Children's Theater, Minneapolis, MN
Storyteller / Producer: David Gonzalez
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev / Daniel Kelly
Violin: Elise Parker
Piano/Keyboard: Gregory Theisen
I am also playing for Nautilus Music Theater - Rough Cuts "Bold In Their Breeches" on February 1st & 2nd.
A new musical work-in-progress based on the true adventures of 18th-century female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, featuring Nautilus performers Laurel Armstrong, Ann Michels, Laurie Flanigan Hegge, Joel Liestman, Eric Morris, and Kym Chambers Otto, with musical direction by Greg Thiesen!
© Gregory Theisen
“Busking on the Mall” is an Overture from the music theater project “The Ballad of Nicollet Mall."
While strolling down the mall, you will hear the busyness of the city from the street vendors waving discounts as fast as shoppers seeking them, the preachers pounding the book of Revelations, the beboppers lamenting lost loves, the fiddler players spreading joy while the african drummers beat on their plastic pails in loud pursuit of something that nobody is certain of. All in all it is an exciting peregrination.
I will be playing in the Minnesota Orchestra Disney In Concert: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas on the evening of the Halloween.
"It was late one fall in Halloween land
And the air had quite a chill
Against the moon a skeleton sat
Alone upon a hill"
That poem is the genesis of filmmaker Tim Burton’s macabre mashup of Halloween and Christmas, a movie favorite since 1993.
Place: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Conductor: Sarah Hicks
Date: October 30 (Friday) & 31 (Saturday)
* Illustration = Buena Vista Concerts, a division of ABC Inc. © All rights reserved
Gregory Theisen Music-log
Some of my music related activities.