Entertainment » Music

The Michael Friedman Collection

by Steven Bergman
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Nov 29, 2019
The Michael Friedman Collection

The prolific composer, Michael Friedman, passed away in 2017, at the young age of 41. Well-known in theaters circles for his creative and diverse scores, including those for "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Fortress of Solitude," and "Love Labour's Lost," Friedman also had an established collaboration with the New York-based performance troupe, The Civilians. Now The Civilians have announced that they are recording and releasing nine Friedman scores that have not been heard to date. Now the first three are completed and available on CD and digitally from Ghostlight Records.

The three scores, "This Beautiful City," "The Great Immensity" and "The Abominables," show that no topic was beyond the scope of Friedman's talent. Without the scripts, it is difficult to gauge the preparedness of each show to be produced, but each show stands alone as an enjoyable recording with at least hints to the stories and their respective characters and conflicts. "The Abominables" is the most complete and followable of the recordings, as we follow two explorers and their children who have moved to Minnesota with their adopted Yeti (you read that right), who just happens to have a knack for the state sport, hockey. The expository number, "Minnesota Nice," will leave the listener with a smile, especially if they are familiar with the mannerisms of the native Midwesterner.

"This Beautiful City" deals with evangelicals in Colorado, and though the plot is tough to determine from the music, the songs are pretty, and contain snippets of similar rhythmic devices to "Bloody Bloody...," while infusing them with a 21st century "Godspell" influence.

This collection will inspire theater companies to pursue his scores, either those that are complete, or in looking to develop one of these newly discovered gems.

"The Great Immensity" is an issue-related tale, with songs titled, "Climate Summit Suite," "Charistmatic Megafauna," and the brief rock and roller, "The Earth Ambassadors' Theme Song." These pieces provide interesting lyrics, though they tend to get wordy in spots, and don't mesh into cohesive story as a whole.

Steve Cosson, the artistic director for The Civilians, is to be commended for pursuing this project, as Friedman was lost way too soon for his music to be fully appreciated, and hopefully this collection will inspire theater companies to pursue his scores, either those that are complete, or in looking to develop one of these newly discovered gems.

"The Michael Friedman Collection"
www.ghostlightrecords.com

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.


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