By Melissa Nally
Charlie Rosen was tasked with creating re-imagined orchestrations for “The Bridges of Madison County” for the Musical Theatre Factory’s gala concert, “Get Yourself Some New Orchestrations,” in association with The Chelsea Symphony. Selections from the show will be performed by the stars of ‘The Bridges of Madison County” tour, Elizabeth Stanley and Andrew Samonsky, before the tour kicks off on November 28.
“The Bridges of Madison County” debuted on Broadway in 2014, with music by Jason Robert Brown. The original orchestrations took home the 2014 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations. On taking up the challenge of orchestrating a show that has been recognized for its orchestrations, Charlie said, “Hopefully I do that justice in maintaining the creativity of the original orchestrations, but deepening the dynamic range of the colors in the music. The addition of the whole spectrum of colors that is the woodwind section and brass section really opens up the dramatic opportunities of the music.”
Charlie got his start as an orchestrator in high school. “My amazing band director let me arrange a chart for the high school big band, but going back further than that, I started running bands that often had horns and letting them know what I wanted them to do verbally,” said Charlie. His classical musician mother and jazz/traditional music father played a large part in building his musical vocabulary and skill.
Charlie is now a quadruple threat of musician, composer, arranger/orchestrator, and musical director. He loves each role equally, but says, “I hope I never stop playing. I love orchestrating and composing, but can’t stare at the computer all the time.” One of his popular projects is called Charlie Rosen’s Broadway Big Band, a full sized jazz orchestra of seventeen musicians that plays an eclectic mix of Broadway songs. The series just had its tenth performance.
When he approaches a project, Charlie first likes to sit down with the composer to get his or her thoughts on the direction and the palette of the ensemble. He then works through either a demo or a piano/vocal score to expand it to a full score. “Usually I sit in my room surrounded by the many instruments I’ve hoarded, meticulously checking fingerings and voicing to be sure that what I’m writing is playable on the instruments I have at my disposal,” Charlie said. For this particular project, he said that the challenge of orchestrating for an orchestra as large as The Chelsea Symphony is remembering not to overwrite. “Now that the palette of colors is so immense, I need to not be afraid to let people rest until I really need them!”
Charlie has worked with Jason Robert Brown in the past – one of his earliest projects was as a swing musician for “13 the Musical.” They have since worked together on a number of other shows and concerts. Charlie contributed orchestrations to “Honeymoon in Vegas” and “Prince of Broadway.” For this particular project, Charlie said that Jason Robert Brown “gave me his blessing.”
Check out selections from “The Bridges of Madison County” along with four other scores to be featured at the gala concert event “Get Yourself Some New Orchestrations,” the launch of an exciting new series which pairs emergent musical theatre writers with Broadway orchestrators to commission stunning new orchestrations of their shows. Excerpts from four new musicals (and one reimagined favorite!) will be brought to life by the 35-piece Chelsea Symphony and a cast of Broadway stars.
When: Monday, November 9, at 8pm
Where: Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center (129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023)
Tickets available here.