Today, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced that Marvin Hamlisch will take over as Principal Pops conductor next season. KERA’s Stephen Becker spoke with the composer about how he will approach the job:
- Listen to the KERA radio story:
- Visit the Art&Seek blog to hear Hamlisch discuss the award he’s won that means the most to him.
- Online version:
Marvin Hamlisch is first and foremost a composer. He’s written the music for everything from A Chorus Line toThe Spy Who Loved Me.
But he took up conducing about 30 years ago after a gentle nudge from his agent.
HAMLISCH: “I had no desire to be a conductor at all, zero. My agent came up to me and said, ‘You really could do this.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do that!’ And then he said the magic words. ‘Well, Gershwin did it.’ And I heard, ‘Well, if Gershwin did it. Well then in that case …’”
Since then, he’s collected guest conducing posts like he’s collected Oscars and Tonys. He regularly conducts the National Symphony in Washington D.C. as well as the orchestras in Pittsburgh, Denver, Seattle and Milwaukee.
And now he’s the Principal Pops conductor for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Hamlisch is a self-described workaholic. But he says his many pops conducting gigs come from his desire to preserve the music of American composers who preceded him.
HAMLISCH: “When I was growing up, we had so many variety shows on television. That’s where I heard most of the American songbook. Nowadays, it’s tough to hear. … And I don’t want this music to die a natural death. I want the kids to know it.”
Hamlisch will conduct and play the piano for three programs with the DSO next season – an all-Gershwin program, the DSO’s Christmas Pops performances and a spring concert featuring the music of Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin.
But what about the music of Marvin Hamlisch?
HAMLISCH: “Even though people say to me, ‘Why don’t you do your own stuff?’ I don’t want people to think that I use these places as a platform for my music. I just think that’s wrong. I think if you’re the conductor, you conduct. And if you’re the composer, maybe once every four or five years, you do a Marvin Hamlisch program.”
Tune in to KERA today at noon, when Hamlisch will discuss his career on Think.