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This is seminars in theatre a series of discussions with leading members of the theatrical profession who comment on the problems and pleasures of life in the theatre. Here now is the host of seminars and theatre Richard Pyatt. Good evening and welcome once again to seminars and theatre. Our guest this evening here in the double Trost we should say that is once again it's Christmas time. And by that we mean Christmas Eve is nearing upon us. And New York City will once again be the recipient of what amounts to a nice Christmas present. And to tell us about it is the Santa Claus who does it every year. He has all of his assistants with him the day in the way of one eminent guest but I will first introduce Ted Mann producer of the circle in the Square Theater a successful off-Broadway venture for a number of years and he has many other enterprises which will
evolve out of this conversation. Good evening to you. Good evening Richard. And we are very happy and thankful that you were able to bring the conductor Alexander Schneider who will be on the podium on the eve in which you present. And of course we've had the pleasure of broadcasting Alexander Schneider with the ensemble his group for a number of years in connection with the Casals festival in connection with the Metropolitan. Museum concerts and many other concerts throughout the city. We first of all this is the year 1967 and once again you are planning something for New Yorkers and we've already mentioned what it is but could you give us a little background on how you arrived to number one. How did you decide to once again do it this year. And number two the choice of the material.
Well Mr. Schneider and I have now for 13 years been presenting these dollar concerts at Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve at midnight and they are right to fall from our point of view. One is the opportunity to present great music. At Christmas time for those for those of us that want to hear not only on Christmas but all times beautiful music but especially at Christmas time. And that price would not be a factor of anybody coming to such a concert. The marvelous thing about the concerts have always been the attendance by young people. I mean the audiences that 98 percent teenage hit people and it's a very I mean the visual aspect of the concert from the point of view of the audience and the way they dress is really quite marvelous and they are a wonderful audience and we
are very happy to do wonderful work and this particular year or in a year in which we are involved in the Vietnam War in which a great deal of sentiment pro and con about it we chose Stravinsky's work list why the sold out which was a very. Strong anti military piece. I was about to ask Mr. Schneider whether he found any significance in the fact that the group was going to do. And the temper of the times so to speak. Do you find that this would be particularly apt for a young audience on Christmas Eve which is not. I don't think that this is one of the reasons I think you could perform the study so that any and certainly when it was written there wasn't any war. And I can't imagine that it's very scary had anything in my
door which just happens to be another involved. At the moment you know. But at least right this is a classic. By now you know that I'm very happy you know that I do get it and I wish you know that would be before much more day has been till now because he deserves to be performed like any classic classical drama is certainly a thing that you know any Shakespeare play. You know it's wordy. Yes like like a Shakespeare play to be performed recently so that you know I wouldn't be surprised if the next maybe five or ten years that it will be dawn certain day. I mean I'm no longer on that other watch it you'll be running every day. Possibly be the play. Yes I guess we should mention for some of the members of our audience the basic theme of this is one sells his soul to the devil for
material comforts. In this case do you think that the audience would find and pick out and interpret the meaning here to apply to our policies whatever they are. Do you think that there would be some identification some perceptive plucking out of this work to coincide with what is happening in the Times today. Or do you think the work stands well guarded from an imposed interpretation. Well but you could be got any classical play too. I mean if you want it you know. But on the other hand some of them go just simply because they're by a broken you know as a symbol you know I mean there's so many possibilities you can. Actually I mean you rip at ease when he wrote the intro dreamland and Etheridge and I and all of us had no idea about our current struggle. I mean people take from the plays what they you know what is of significance to
her. We asked that man anything about it would you not in our list. Have you seen the production. Yes or no. And do you agree with all of the fine things being said about it as a theatrical experience of what particularly would you say makes this a stand out performance of the season. Well I think any any classical play today stands out without any doubt and especially displays which is extraordinary and very beautifully directed that I thought you know it has. As a musician I felt and felt very strongly there was a beautiful continuation you know as a musical for me which I personally believe that music another exists without any need for. Well you speak of Corman and I think this is one of the
big problems connected with the classical at least or connected with theater in general here is that there is such a lack of form and possibly a lack of content but the form the lack of form seems to be much more noticeable. Where would you have it in music. Morse. That's right that you don't understand from the language so you don't get is that much like you do criticize the theater because you do still understand you know the words in a sentence you know the language understood by everybody but the musical language isn't on this and this is the door by everybody you know that just sounds coming out you know. But that's a particular question I'm glad to be able to ask you because you are an musician of note and you are an artist of note. And I've had many actors and directors on this program and the question always comes up or the statement really comes up with a musician you either can play the violin or you can't or you can either play a cello or you can't you can say I'm a musician and
walk onstage with a cello without having had any training. And I think this is one of the distinctive differences in the art and the form in the print and the performing aspect of this to this degree. You may have actors going on stage who have really no training whatsoever but they have a personality so I think music is safe in that respect for an audience would you. Well not not quite as safe today I would say today and you are speaking of performance at the moment Deana speaking of composers you know you see I mean this is you know the I mean the first question is really I mean the composer you know what what is he doing in form. And of course you know if you made it made maybe developed an extraordinary four and we don't know yet you know but it certainly has not been yet about modern day. Again I know very little about it technically but it seems to be formless or it has a particular form that matches modern composers in the
angularity and the particular aimlessness whatever wherever the top position is going. We seem to have formats are going to square that much. You have I witnessed and I haven't Mr. Snyder's and that man has certainly you. Did you direct this one. No Michael cocky honest did. And by the way in connection with what Mr. Schneider was saying about how he enjoyed the Palais as a musician as a performer that it's very significant that Michael Capuano says it is himself a former musician and he is this other language the musical language of the play is something that he is very conscious of. And I mean this is this is going to predominate I think. Correct your form Absolutely and you have from the beginning to the end you know you have absolutely sure you know that you are on the base
that houses building properly you know it's not painting you know full well there's an excellent would like to get back to that and try to ask a few more questions about the production but we have an ample opportunity this program that you are arranging for Christmas Eve at Carnegie Hall to see well three or four elements here or two here three or four certainly and that is not only the aspect of form being adhered to but also the mixture of drama music and dance really because this does call for a dancer. First of all dancers you know why Mr. Pyatt is so well versed in this whole subject is that he he has performed list aloud to Soledad as he and he has played all four parts yet except the French. That's what I wasn't. Pray not OK not yet have you and I I have to thank to have presented you play all the music chairs as well.
No I've already been chastised for mentioning it you say. But regarding caste That's the question is going to ask that you mention the cast here and while it's being directed or choreographed by Anna Sokolow a very well-known name and has a particular area and the soldier is played by Jordan Charney who is an actor primarily and who has worked with Jerry robins a workshop but he's primarily an actor and I think that aspect of it is with and guiding him and helping him. It makes the role of the soldier very real and rather moving at this juncture of rehearsal on another week when the Christmas concert will take place and it will even be that much more beautiful and significant.
The princess is a dancer I have ever come on an Israeli dancer who's performed here in this country as well. And the devil is Rex Moore who's also a dancer and he's with the Joffrey Ballet and the narrator is Moses Gunn who's a negro actor and is has appeared for me and by lead author and most recently currently is a member of the Negro Ensemble Company. Yes I think also if anyone was watching the first public laboratory broadcast they would have seen Moses Gunn as the deacon on the clergy in that play day of absence which was on I also noticed the prime says you have a dancer yet this is a very demanding vocal role at least the way it was originally written. Does this is this dance or do you find you may have a difficulty with a guy she
doesn't speak at all in this version of you doesn't know which version did you use. Well. There is a prince's has from what I recall a few lines in which he communicates with the soldier only and only in Dan's obviously that was not a role that you play how you would remember. No never never never ever. There's I think maybe I'm confusing act as an act and how well she says hello I think or go by something just in gesture. Yeah all right it's been a long time. You do have the devil certainly speak. Yes the devil and he is big and he is. He's a dancer actor and the you know he speaks on this particular work. Mr. Schneider you know this is a work that is so from the standpoint of a musician and then projecting your
musicians knowledge into that of an average listener who would say appreciate serious music. When you say this is a work that I really appreciate it has to be heard. At least five times or even more to really begin to get this unique rhythm that is established here. Well I think any any good music and at least five times and more not only by fans by fans is nothing to listen to anything again not even to play if I fancies and no sense you know you always find new things in any music. And certainly you know you find you know extraordinary things this is a classic you know but it is fantastically beautiful you know wonderful. And may I mention to you that all of us the players with the exception of one. We have
according to the scabbing ski years ago the music so we know it pretty well. You know from the standpoint of the of the composer himself you know he had a wonderful time between recording it I'm playing it with him. And well you know it so well that I think that's the first that that's going to be performed to doubt the conductor because we don't need any conductor singing it's usually done with a conductor. Yeah to do this throughout this of that and we discovered it already we knew it as a matter of fact four years before that the conductor is only in the way. When you say music you see because it's very difficult that's one of the most difficult compositions to conduct. Not to play but to conduct strange lives now and all the conductors I have played now you know they all get a little bit mixed up because it's very difficult to beat that guy.
But it's much easier to play because it's so natural to play it without being disturbed by the first question that would come up to a naive person tonight is that here is a work that only acquires at most six or seven musicians and seven. Some of Stravinsky's other words certainly require a large orchestra and yet you say this is the most difficult months I think to conduct Stebbins guesswork without any doubt that it raises six eyebrows but I think it's all some of the only the only reason for even in my opinion the only reason for the conducted being there at all is to coordinate with the other was a coordination narrative and dance when and what happens. These must seize the responsibility of the conductor. Naturally. But actually to do that to conduct you know to direct the music it's
absolutely an important eat. You have good musicians and you must have good musicians for the least this or that. Weather wise it is a catastrophe and yes it sounds very much like I mean it has to be you know you've often performed in concert. Concept formed Yes. Yes that much about it so that there's one of the few times it's being performed as in the full production. In other words and music and I mean as I read you know the this is the lyric I mean the theater aspect of it is being done here and that has that's very rare. It was brought It was your decency of course you know the reason why it is so seldom It also performed because it's a very expensive production expense and of course cities are very expensive because it has to be in a sense a theatrical production. And you see Indian musicians too you can only do it if you do it like chamber
music which is chamber music with him as with other words you have to stay away from the union you know payments otherwise you cannot possibly do it before you ever just to forget about it. Yeah I mean you know what this you know we did we did broadcast this this past summer. It was done out of Washington Square with Washington Square conses which by the way I think you were in. You performed a number of knowing that what you found you found. The fact that you have bought what I was trying to say remember that one day he called me and said This is when I think the Brit award was still at a sidewalk cafe there. He said meet me there and I want to talk to you about something. So that was within view of the arch you know he said I have an idea I'd like to do some concerts there in Washington Square Park. I said well what about bus drives he said we'll get it
changed you know. So I thought yeah another crazy idea well sure enough inside of a year with that some I found out my career to keep music going to. For the crazy. But it wasn't crazy enough to stop the buses they were running the condos concerts were the most successful beautifully attended and listened to cancel outdoor concerts in the city I say that with appreciation of it I was there. Most of them and I think things have changed now. I think that chamber music in Washington Square at this time still a noble attempt and a good thing is very difficult these days. It is not the same option. Well I must say I feel very bad about it but it was it was I think it was the fall that a certain time left that you know that
of the people who were in Chiles you know they try to make it to such full you know and you know that doesn't belong there at all. I tried to have the university irresponsible you know for it which would have been in my in my point of view the most natural thing because universities are I dare you know you surround it you know and it could really I think if somebody would seriously do it again. I mean because after where we are left now you know we should certainly have at least 10 to 20 concerts you know there every summer when it's a struggle just to get three done these days and they need to sing for more than one person. One of the things I. I wanted to mention I was trying to say early was that you often performed with the Schneider quartet and I've often seen you perform without conducting that is conductor Les ostensibly there's no conductor.
Is this work done behind the scenes I mean to you. And then well I did it you see my all my my life I've always believed in a sense you know that music doesn't only be Garcon says of course do you need a conductor you doubt they need that when you get into 80 90 100 people hundred twenty an orchestra of course you need a conductor to coordinate because you haven't got even the time to work it out. Me today you know I mean for any any concert you have possibly 24 Hershel's how much can you do in three for a song it's impossible if you don't really stand out there very high so that everybody can see the beat but that has nothing to do with music. I still believe personally I believe that if I play vetted you know my colleagues that. You know we get a much better coordination of making music together. This piece doesn't exist anymore and now you see the conductor is a dictator. And they have to do and they
must do what he once got over there is not time to discuss a phrase you know and to say well maybe you can. What do you think we'll see it's impossible because you approve of that discussion. I certain not only approve I wish we would go on. We'll come back to that because in my opinion the small orchestra you know has enchained the music has a much bigger possibility to develop and to exist than the big orchestras. Without any doubt there are a number of people feel that the democratic process in the production of a work of art usually leads to chaos and that the dictatorial umbrella that depends depends who are the who are do you know if they are good. I believe with good decision to want to make music with music you know and I suspect each other. I mean this is something you have to respect you know each other you know you talk you know when you're talking about a cause close knit sort of group that has a
musical report of the same I think is this Would this be akin to the feeling in jazz. When you say you you get a musical record the feeling from your colleagues you know you have it in that year. Do you need. You always need somebody who is naturally you know like like the director you know. But but the good director is the one who makes everybody you know brings it all together you get a and on that they respect each other and they work together instead of being dictated. WNYC FM ninety three point nine mega cycles on your dial. As for you this is not a not a commercial. How do you Sally I just want to get into the fact that we have been broadcasting more live music than any other stations in the area. And there's a series I think that currently we are broadcasting of the Alexander Schneider quartet from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
And we will be broadcasting the Christmas Eve concert over WNYC FM and it will start at 12:00 midnight where people can come. Yes. Come on. Yes. Well we pay a dollar. What we have found with these concerts from your testimony Ted is that the concert halls are really overflowing. This additional factor allows let's say a lot of people just don't want to leave the house late at night to also get a chance to hear this well not for a dollar the community for nothing. The rehearsals are going under way I guess right. Yes I have been for the past two weeks. The musicians involved in this are are included. I take it has to have been the correct now. Yeah yeah. On the base Charles Kernot Lauren Glickman This is Robert Nagle
who is more and more eminently know music lovers here in New York he's a trumpet player and Keith Brown trombone Richard Fitz percussion Alexander Schneider fiddle I hope. And in addition I said Yes that's right I only see him as a conductor for some reason or other at the moment and the concert. Yes I know conductor maybe giving is something you know. Gordon ating What would you say. And by the way when you referred to Sasha I should say that you know as well all of New York I think would like to affectionately call you that and I think they just want to identify who Saussure was far from listeners and Ted mentioned saucer before and this is Alexander. What do you think do you think the visual aspect of this will deter. They all roll. It is all roll.
Listening to Holmes not at all know it was originally conceived this time it was conceived as a as a theatrical piece. We're broadcasting I mean we're not televising unfortunately we're going to we're able to. But but this will not affect the. No it has should complement and heighten it I mean I think that here it is marvelous to hear this. The list was just as you know as a piece of music as my album and one will have a much greater and richer enjoyment of it by the production.
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Seminars in theatre
Episode Number
Episode 11 of 31
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3231. This prog.: Christmas Eve concerts at Carnegie Hall. Ted Mann, producer of Circle in the Square Theater, and Alexander Schneider, conductor
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-11-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:44
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Chicago: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 11 of 31,” 1968-03-19, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2024,
MLA: “Seminars in theatre; Episode 11 of 31.” 1968-03-19. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Seminars in theatre; Episode 11 of 31. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from