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ASMAC NYC presents: My time with William David Brohn - A discussion with Christopher Jahnke
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William David Brohn (1933-2017) was an American arranger and orchestrator, best known for his scores of musicals such as Miss Saigon, Ragtime and Wicked. He won the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations in 1998 for Ragtime and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations three times (for Miss Saigon, Secret Garden, and Ragtime).
Born in Flint, Michigan, Brohn later studied music theory at Michigan State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 1955. While a student, he performed on the contrabass. He then studied composition at the New England Conservatory (1958) and took further education in Tanglewood, Massachusetts and in Salzburg, Austria. He was also mentored by the legendary arranger Robert Russell Bennett.
In the 1960s, Brohn began his career as conductor for the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Royal Ballet's tours of America. He then turned his focus to orchestration for the next 20 years, producing ballet scores for Agnes de Mille (The Informer), Lar Lubovitch, Twyla Tharp (Everlast), Susan Stroman, and American Ballet Theatre. For Broadway: Timbuktu!, King of Hearts, Brigadoon (revival), Marilyn, The Boys in Autumn, The Wind in the Willows, and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. For film: Monkey Shines, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Blue Thunder, and War Games.
Brohn was commissioned in 1987 to recreate and adapt Prokofiev’s film scores of Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible. During this time Brohn also created arrangements for the Suite of Dances from Pacific Overtures.
In 1989, Brohn began to collaborate with Cameron Mackintosh, orchestrating approximately ten of his shows while also working on scores for musicals with Trevor Nunn and the Royal National Theatre, London, UK.
Brohn’s orchestration credits between 1989-2017 include: Miss Saigon, 110 in the Shade, Carousel. The Secret Garden, Crazy For You, The Red Shoes, Busker Alley, Oliver!, Martin Guerre, Ragtime, Oklahoma!, High Society, Hey, Mr. Producer, O! Freedom, The Three Musketeers (St. Gallen, Switzerland), Minelli on Minelli, The Witches of Eastwick, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, A Man of No Importance, Sweet Smell of Success, Dessa Rose, Wuthering Heights (ballet by Claude-Michel Schonberg), Wicked, Show Boat, Mary Poppins, Curtains, Gone With The Wind, First You Dream: The Music of Kander and Ebb, Marguerite (Ostrava, Czech Republic), Betty Blue Eyes, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Barnum, and Half a Sixpence.
Additionally, Brohn created the symphonic interpretations Miss Saigon Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, The Ragtime Symphonic Suite, and Wicked: A Fable for Orchestra.
Brohn has also provided arrangements for Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Horne, Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Plácido Domingo and Jerry Hadley, all of which have been recorded, and Sir James Galway for his Sony CD Wind Beneath My Wings. He has provided music for the Boston Pops Orchestra, including various adaptations of Christmas and theatre music, as well as for the Cleveland Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl. Brohn has also collaborated with conductors such as André Previn, John Williams and Keith Lockhart.
A Sony CD of his one-movement Suite from Bernstein's West Side Story for violin and orchestra, featuring Joshua Bell as violin soloist, was released in 2001. Previous to this, Brohn also created solo violin and orchestra arrangements for Joshua Bell’s Gershwin Fantasy album (1998 - London Symphony Orchestra; John Williams, conductor).
In 1996, Bill was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Art from Michigan State University.
Christopher Jahnke is a Broadway Orchestrator, Arranger, Music Supervisor, Music Director, and Conductor. He was the orchestrator for the Broadway/London stage productions of Porgy and Bess (2012 Tony Award Nomination - Best Orchestrations), Legally Blonde, King Kong, Cry Baby, Grease (2007 Broadway), Wind in the Willows (Stiles/Drewe), Dessa Rose, and A Man of No Importance (Lincoln Center Theater), and new orchestrations for Les Miserables (with Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker).
Jahnke’s new orchestrations for Les Miserables were originally created for the 2006 Broadway production, and are now being performed worldwide in all commercial stage productions. On recording, they can be heard on the 2010 “Live” London cast recording, the most recent Dutch and Spanish cast albums, the 2012 Universal/Working Title film directed by Tom Hooper, the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena in London in 2010, and the 2019 staged concert version.
Other orchestrations include new orchestrations for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular (2014 to present), all orchestrations for the Radio City Music Hall New York Spectacular (2016 - Mia Michaels, dir.), additional orchestrations for Dear Evan Hansen (with Alex Lacamoire), Jerry Herman’s Dear World (Revised version - Tams Witmark), Tom Jones (Stiles/Leigh), Just So (Stiles/Drewe), Chasing Nicolette (Kellogg/Friedman), and Not Wanted on the Voyage (Bartram/Hill). Orchestrations for TV include work for composer Adam Schlesinger (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Maya Rudolph Show, Fusion Network), The Wiz - Live!, Rufus Wainwright (Judy Garland Concert - Carnegie Hall), Jagermeister Blaskapelle, Steven Van Zandt, Darlene Love, and Do You Hear the People Sing? (Symphonic tour of the music of Alain Boublil & Claude Michel Schonberg). Jahnke also orchestrated (with Stephen Oremus) Lady Gaga’s The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary Tribute for the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony.
Jahnke’s conducting credits include the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue - with child prodigy composer and pianist, Emily Bear) and the Broadway production of Elton John’s Aida (associate conductor).
Along with TV writers Greg Garcia & Mike O’Malley, Jahnke created the score and was Music Supervisor for the Broadway musical, Escape to Margaritaville for Jimmy Buffett - as well as serving as co-orchestrator for the production with longtime Buffett bandmate, Mike Utley. Other music direction/supervision credits include Music Supervisor/Music Producer for Memphis (2010 Tony Award - Best Musical), The Tale of Despereaux, Romeo and Juliet (Terrence Mann/Jerry Korman), Atomic, and music director/conductor/arranger and/or orchestrator for over 20 productions as staff assistant music supervisor at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT.
As long-time apprentice to the late, legendary orchestrator William David Brohn, Mr. Jahnke assisted him on various Broadway/London shows including Ragtime, Mary Poppins, The Three Musketeers, Sweet Smell of Success, The Witches of Eastwick, The Secret Garden, and Wicked.
Originally from San Francisco, Russ Anixter has been a music copyist in NYC for 30 years. As a partner with Don Rice at Anixter Rice Music Service they have supervised music preparation for countless Broadway shows, regional theatre, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, live concerts and recordings. Projects include all of the Disney musicals on Broadway, Wicked, and Jersey Boys. Russ started as a copyist when the work still required pen and ink and made the transition to computer copying when the Mac still had those very small screens with very little memory.
Russ holds a Masters degree in Jazz/Commercial Composition from Manhattan School of Music where he was a student of Manny Albam. He also holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations from California State University at Chico.
Russ is the leader of Russ Anixter’s Hippie Big Band, writing arrangements for the 11 piece ensemble. A trombone and low brass player in a previous life, he also now plays electric bass player in The Ward Hill Boys, playing country jam music.
Russ is currently Co-Vice President of ASMAC-NYC and former Chair of Local 802 Music Copying Committee.