Monday, September 7, 2009

Harry Warren

The world's first gold record...

The most hits on Your Hit Parade ever...

Over 500 published songs, and his hits are household songs, even 60 years later.

1949 Director of ASCAP...

11 Academy award nominations and three awards for Movie's Best Song.....

And have you heard of Harry Warren?

Success, even in performing arts, is not equal to fame.

Is he a master composer? Yes, without doubt. Is that recognized? No.

Ben Brantley of "The New York Times" reviewed the 2001 revival:

"What better show to install in that theater than -- of course -- a newly opulent ''42nd Street,'' with its finger-snapping anthems to Broadway and Times Square?

Those anthems, by the immortal team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin, remain among the most infectious songs ever written about Manhattan, as energetic, tough-hearted and self-romanticizing as the island itself. No sooner does the orchestra at the Ford Center strike up the overture (beginning with ''We're in the Money'') than you feel yourself grinning."

in 2009, American Songwriter Magazine editor Paul Zollo writes:
"the advent of rock and roll changed the game... He moved away from the short form of songs to write a masterwork - a Latin Mass - completed in 1962. Sadly, there was little interest in it, and it went unheard for a decade until Loyola Marymouth University staged a performance of it. To this day, though, it has never been recorded."

Somebody ought to remedy that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harmonic Vocabulary

Dear Hal,

You raised a fabulous question I've been chewing on: "dumbing down arrangements", especially on "Almost". Since I write in a lot of styles, it's a conscious choice for me, and I'll explain why:

it's a matter of using a vocabulary your audience understands.

If the audience was just you and me, for example, we could sing 12-tone rows and poly-chordal arrangements, and groove on those. I've written some of those. Contemporary acapella lovers can go pretty far afield with nameless chords, poly-rhythms and hair-pin changes of style - if that's your audience, you write for them. I suppose the far extreme might be cartoon character Hank (King of the) Hill saying "I like both kinds of music, country AND western." - for Hank's ilk, you don't even sing a 6th chord because they'd hear those chords as "errors"

Kinda like singing in Latin or French - right for the right crowd & wrong for the wrong crowd - depends on how well your audience knows the vocabulary by the time you are done.

Now consider what little we know of the judges of the Forest Grove Barbershop Ballad competition and the opinions of the coach we had who has judged that event. Recall in "Nose to Nose" that his ear objected to the no-fifth chord at the end and wanted a full chord. In "Wink", one sixteenth note of an open fifth chord ("old jalopy") needed a third to be fixed, and we did it and will do it. But this gives us a strong clues on what vocabulary his barbershop audience will understand - and it doesn't include 2 note chords. By extrapolation, most of the audiences we will have will understand BBS style, since our agent Tom's contacts are in that world.

"Almost" uses vocabulary the barbershop crowd will ALMOST but not quite understand: open fifth beginning, (to that ear, making our first sound to sound "wrong") major 7 9 6 chords in tag ("al-most like"), and the swipe ending the intro.

Generally, the mutually exclusive alternatives are:
  • present and teach a new language entertainingly.
  • let the audience dislike what you are doing.
  • cater to the audience's familiarities
For this barbershop competition, the choices are
  1. re-arrange the tune to the style (I don't like the idea - the arrangement we have has it's own quirky charm, and I personally LIKE those quirks, so we use it in less judgmental moments in performance)
  2. accept the distrust the audience will give us by doing it the way we like, but hopefully redeeming ourselves by educating those ears to a new vocabulary (Don't like this risky plan, either) or
  3. choose a different tune for that audience.

Simplest and most respectful answer: choose a different tune.

Yours, Gary

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rose City Timberliners

present our annual

Ice Cream Social

Saturday August 15--Noon to 2 p.m.

Peninsula Park Rose Garden

North Ainsworth & North Kerby Avenue,

Portland, Oregon

Join us for singing, ice cream sundaes, and fun!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Resume

Somebody asked me to post it, so here it is, updated for September 2018

(Director credits in bold)

Assistant Choir Director, Soloist: Marylhurst Choral Union 2016-2018
Pirelli, "Sweeney Todd": Marylhurst University Opera 2018
Fairfax, "Yeomen of the Guard": Marylhurst University Opera 2017
Choir Master, Organist, Pianist: St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church 2007- present
Youth Sunday Music Director: All Saints Episcopal Church 2005-2007
Music Director, Soloist, Pianist: Unity Church of Portland 2005-2007
Recital Soloist, "Iphigenia in Brooklyn" etc: Community Music Center April 1 2006
Riff, “West Side Story” in concert: Central Oregon Music Festival 2000
Musical Director, Pianist: “Gershwin Revue” Jasmine Tree Productions 2000
Cantor, Chorus Section Leader: All Saints Episcopal, Portland OR 1999 – 2005
Music Director, Chorister: Portland Chorus, SPEBSQSA 1998 – present
Soloist, Chorister, Arranger, Section Leader: Portland Symphonic Choir 1997 – present
Soloist, Chorister: Choral Cross Ties 1995 – 2002
Magician, "Emperor's New Clothes": Broadway Rose Theater, Tigard OR 1996
Tolloler, “Iolanthe”: Jasmine Tree Productions 1995
Guest Director, Soloist, Chorister: Oregon Repertory Singers 1993–1996
Chorister, “Hello Dolly”: The Musical Company, Portland 1991
Interview Host, 13 episodes: Citizens Commission Human Rights, OR 1989
Musical Director, Arranger, Singer: Dickens Carolers, Portland OR 1985 – 1995
Pierrot, Composer “Pierrot & Pirouette”: Group at Hand & Portland Arts Council 1983
Music Director, Judas, “Jesus Christ, Superstar”: Group At Hand, Portland OR 1982
Staging Director, "Midsummer Night's Dream": Group At Hand, Portland OR 1981
Paul, “Silent Night, Lonely Night”: Group At Hand, Portland OR 1980
Buffalo Bill, “The Wild West Show”: American Touring Company 1979
Composer, Music Director, Amiens “As You Like It”: San Jose State University 1979
Composer, Music Director-Pianist, "Madwoman of Challiot": San Jose State U 1979
Gherardo, “Gianni Schicchi”: San Jose State University Opera 1978
Dancer, “Dance in America”: San Jose State University 1977
Chorister, “Carmen” & "My Fair Lady": San Jose State University 1977
Music Director, Archy “Archy & Mehitabel”: San Jose State University 1977
Chorister, Chamber Choir, Soloist: San Jose State University 1977 – 1979
Music Director,
Judas “Jesus Christ, Superstar”: Group At Hand, Santa Cruz CA 1976
Quartet Tenor and Coach, "The Music Man":  Cabrillo College, CA 1976

Scapino, Composer, “Compagnie Santi Ostinati”: Group At Hand, Santa Cruz CA 1976
Music Director, Jeffrey “Godspell”: Group At Hand, Santa Cruz CA 1975
Chorister: California Honors Choir 1975
Narrator, “Antigone”: Group At Hand, Santa Cruz CA 1974
Barnaby, Recorded Pianist “Sing Out Sweet Land”: Group At Hand, Santa Cruz CA 1974
Chorister, “Cosi Fan Tutti”: U.C. Santa Cruz 1974
George, “Of Mice and Men”: Santa Cruz High School 1975
Butler, “The Man Who Came To Dinner”: Santa Cruz High School 1974
Boy Chorister, "Bernstein's Mass":  San Francisco Opera 1973
Chorister, “Wizard of Oz”: Big Sur Community Theatre 1971
Little Boy, “Curious Savage”: Lompoc Community Theatre 1962


1976 “Best Male Lead in A Musical,” California Association of Community Theatres
1974 & 1975 “Honorable Mentions for Male Lead,” CACT
1979 “Bachelor of Music with Great Distinction”, San Jose State University

1977 “Associate of Theater Arts with Highest Honors,” Cabrillo College, Aptos, California

Music: direction, composition, arranging; organ, piano, vocals, vocal coach; sound design & engineering; dance, choreography,percussion; Medical: physical therapy; accounting, billing, management; Computers: repair, maintenance, many website, office & networking applications. 

Gary Shannon
Lyric Tenor / Counter Tenor
5’10”, 195 lbs.
Coloration: Fair
Hair: Brown and disappearing

Bios: 2012 2018

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All You Need is Love

The Harmonics are rehearsing an acapella arrangement I made of "All You Need is Love".

Here are videos of the original:

The sound is better here, but the video is unrelated:

My goal is acapella arranging is usually to import the original version that everybody knows into the vocal idiom. I remove or subtly alter what I can't make work for voices, and add touches that can work.

As for the arrangement, the increasingly exuberant back beat that drives the original is missing from my arrangement. I'll figure it out soon :)

Love, Gary

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"All-Night Vigil"
Sergei Rachmaninov
Steven Zopfi conducts the Portland Symphonic Choir in three in High Church Slavonic by performances.

These will be my fourth performance of this towering masterpiece. It demands huge resources , huge control and huge commitment. The group has all of them. They got those qualities thru competent leadership and lofty goals.

The sum is greater than the whole of the parts. Untrue in physics. True in Art. Discuss.

Saturday, May 16 at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 17 - 2:30 pm

St. Mary's Cathedral, NW 18th and Davi, Portland Oregon. Order tickets on-line

Sunday, May 31 at 4 pm.
St. Mary's Parish Church, 575 E. College St. Mt. Angel, Oregon -Tickets at the door only

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg & the Assad Brothers

In concert last night, what we saw is three very different ways of addressing the music and the instrument.

Nadja is an aggressive violinist, attacking each phrase from her entire body. She leans forward into every note, her tip toes firm on the floor, heels bouncing to the beat, as though she is ready to leap from the chair at any moment. She alone spoke for the trio, illuminating bits of the creative process with stories on how this piece came to being or that arrangement was created. Her speaking voice is rich, but a strong New York accent pops out, especially when acerbic, as when starting the second half while stragglers are still rushing to their seats, "like roaches caught in the light", she says. Her playing is, of course, passionate and volatile.

Odair Assad, the younger brother, dances with his guitar. Swaying gently to the music, or punctuating tight rhythms with his shoulders and posture, he sits with both feet flat on the floor, his right thigh and left hand alone supporting the guitar and neck, unlike most other guitarists, including his brother. He, like Nadia, is ready to leave his chair, (indeed, he was standing before the last notes of their Copland "Rodéo" encore ended) not to insist on his music, but to dance with his instrument. His playing is elegant and charming.

Sérgio, though, holds his guitar very close to his body, his left foot on a small riser, supporting the guitar with both thighs and left hand close to his chest, his face hovering just over the shoulder of the instrument, if not actually resting on it. He moves little, only head and hand. At first, this seems like a lover's embrace, but as the evening continues, you see that the guitar not another being or an extension of himself, but it is his very self that he strums for music. He is touching his own centered soul and music comes out. His playing rich and sonorous.

Singers and actors master all three styles and more to perform effectively. Rare are classical instrumentalists who are so physically engaging, even sitting still. Their motions were genuine and expressive, although no two of the players moved the same. No recording, even one of a concert, fully shows this. For seeing this yourself, go to concerts. For hearing it, there is an Instant Encore offering of this concert, but it is not the three players or even the instruments we heard. For that, there are recordings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Job Hunting

To: New Jobhunter
From: Your Mentor

Congratulations on you new position!
Job hunter is an age-old position with many rewards and challenges.
Here is an outline of your duties:

1. Set your own work hours and keep them.
~~~ a. No one is going to supervise you or call you when you miss work
~~~ b. You will have to get yourself ready to job hunt each day
~~~ c. You may change your hours as necessary.
~~~ d. If you are already working some, keep doing it and also your job hunter hours.
~~~ e. File unemployment if you might be eligible. Follow their rules, please.

2. Make your own work area.
~~~ a. Don’t spend a lot of time on this, but cover the basics:
~~~ b. Phone, phone book, pad, computer, access, lighting.

3. Narrow your search:
~~~ a. What location will you work in?
~~~ b. What types of jobs would you do?
~~~~~~ i. Jobs you’ve held before
~~~~~~ ii. Continue a career you’ve started
~~~~~~ iii. Begin a new career. Idea sources:
~~~~~~~~~ A. Your hobbies, passions and loves
~~~~~~~~~ B. Browse Help Wanted and local business listings online and print media randomly

4. Contact every one who might have a job for you:
~~~ a. By local phone call to potential employers in your area and interests:
~~~~~~ i. Dial and talk to whoever answers:
~~~~~~ ii. Introduce yourself and let then know you are looking for work as a (fill in the blank)
~~~~~~ iii. Ask if they might have an opening for someone like you.
~~~~~~~~~ A. If yes, find out what they want and produce it.
~~~~~~~~~ B. If not, ask if there anyone who might need someone like you.
~~~ b. By personal contact:
~~~~~~ i. Let all your friends, relatives and people you work with know you are looking.
~~~~~~ ii. Talk to everyone: the stranger in line at the store may need you.
~~~~~~ iii. Visit for more ideas.
~~~ c. By any other means you have:
~~~~~~ i. Online applications (do them fully the first time)
~~~~~~ ii. Cold mailed resume
~~~~~~ iii. Newspaper and online want ads
~~~~~~ iv. Local Internet search and Phone book Yellow page listings

5. When you learn of a lead, follow up fully and professionally with whatever they ask.
~~~ a. Resume: one page, please, absolutely truthful.
~~~ b. Cover letter: do your homework and make it about THEIR business
~~~ c. Interview: Dress as though you already have that job. Get enough rest.
~~~ d. Follow up each of the above: it impresses and can lead to more leads.

6. Accept the right offer.
~~~ a. You don’t need to accept your first offer unless you are desperate.
~~~ b. The beginning is the time to negotiate.
~~~ c. Commit only to what you really can do.
~~~ d. Leave your options open if a better offer arrives.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Renato Fabbro Update

Hi Gary,

I just came across the nice advertisement you gave me on your blogspot page. Thank you!! I can actually give you an updated version of my bio, which I've attached to this e-mail. Your page looks great. Thanks again for the mention.

See you soon,
Ron Fabbro

Ron Fabbro received both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied with Larry Graham and Angela Cheng. As a fellowship student at Rice University, he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the tutelage of John Perry. Dr. Fabbro has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, Cascade Music Festival, Colorado Mozart Festival, and the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California. He has coached with Robert Levin, James Buswell, Christopher Elton, James Dunham, Ralph Votapek, and has performed in concert with internationally renowned violinist Frank Huang. Frequently in demand as an adjudicator and master class clinician, he has judged competitions nationally and was most recently invited to give master classes at Marylhurst University and for the Oregon Music Teachers Association. National competition prizes include top honors at the Fort Collins Symphony National Young Artist Competition, Young Pianists Competition, MTNA Wurlitzer Collegiate Artist Competition, and the Lee Piano Competition. Concerto performances include those with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, Fort Collins Symphony, Grand Junction Symphony, Colorado University Orchestra, and the Grand Junction Youth Symphony. Dr. Fabbro has taught on the faculties of Lee College, the University of Texas at San Antonio Summer Music Institute, and currently teaches at the University of Portland.

Still impressive, Ron. Send me a new picture when you have one.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's a gruesome story: arts groups closing all over now. I've lost one already (online singing lessons group I work for closed their doors 6 months ago. I went solo on it.) and almost lost another one that I'll share about.

Last year, Portland Symphonic Choir got to the run up for the last concert of the season. We had taken losses on every event that year, including a "fund-raising" concert we had hired a huge name in classical music to front for us. Six weeks before the end of the season, we learned that we (120 singers plus 12 board members and staff) had to raise $100,000 inside of six weeks to break even.

Well, long story short, we did it. We did the usual ask the group for pledges, but it wasn't just pledges from us. We aided singers in creating solo recitals (I was on the production team) for family and friends, donation to the PSC. We made challenge grants for each other. We made impromptu auctions every rehearsal. I sold a dinner for eight with a soiree and delivered it on Valentines week this year. In short, we made a miracle. A blessed miracle.

This year, we cut our budget by 100,000. One planned concert bit the dust. I music managed a soiree event for 60 people on Halloween week - and helped raise $10,000. We're coming up on the "fundraiser" again - this time the Mozart Requiem and two other short Mozart choral/orchestral works - and we are ahead of target on ticket sales. If you are in Portland, Friday March 13, you will hear a superb and impassioned performance. Is it worth the work? YES!

The first lesson I give my students, often even before I meet them is this:

~~~ Sing! ~~~~
~~~~~~ Sing Often! ~~~~~
~~~~~ It doesn't matter WHAT you sing ~~~~~
~~~~~~It matters THAT you sing.~~~~~

(Oh, that's for you. And all you other non-singing singing Pezheads, too.)

Survival is possible for non-profit arts, but Lord, it's hard work and it takes luck and expertise, both. There is nothing I'd rather be doing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Immortal Invisible Parody

(To Hymn Tune: Immortal, Invisible...)

Immoral, impossible, God only knows
How tenors and basses, sopranos, altos
At service on Sunday are rarely the same
As those who on Thursday to choir practice came.

Unready, unable to sight-read the notes,
Not counting, not blending, they tighten their throats.
A descant so piercing is soaring above
A melody only a mother could love.

They have a director, but one wonders why
No one in the choir deigns to turn him an eye.
It's clear by his flailing, he wants them to look
But each singer slouches with nose in the book.

Despite the offenses, the music rings out.
The folks in the pews are enraptured, no doubt.
Their faces are blissful, their thoughts appear deep.
But it is no wonder, for they are asleep.

(Ah, the joys of random e-mail contacts)

Yours, Gary Shannon

I teach online voice lessons!
My passion: Your art.

( 8-{D} Balding, bespectacled, mustachioed, happy, bearded guy, usually open mouthed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Singing Low Notes

Today's question:
Dear Voice-Mentor,
I'm having trouble making my low notes more powerful and "open". Do u have any pointers?
Dear xoox,

This I can answer! If your air is flowing gently and throat is relaxed, this exercise will extend the vocal range:

~ First, find SOME notes that sound exactly like you want, in your case, powerful and open.
~ Next, sing those notes, really getting the feel of them, until they sound just right to you.
~ Then, and only then, you start to slide that sound down

Adding notes to your range IS muscle training: you get gains by exercising those muscles, not thinking about it. It takes some time to build muscle and flexibility.

~ Take a breath, sing your good note, and slide it a little lower in pitch..
~ KEEP THE SOUND GOOD - don't go so low that the sound and feeling worsen.
~ If the good sound worsens, back up and sing a higher note that you can do well.
~ Be careful on going down. Do it SLOWLY. KEEP THE SOUND GOOD.

If your good sound does not go as low as you want it to go, have patience, it will come with time.
If your sound suddenly goes weak or choked, you've gone too low for now.


This stresses and trains the the muscles some, but it keeps your technique good. Five to ten minutes on this exercise at a time is plenty. When you get tired doing this, when even your good notes start to soudn worse, take a break, do something else.

~ After a while of singing your lowest good note, and slide it down a little and back up.
~ Very soon, the next lower note starts to sound good, too.
~ Congratulations, you are closer to your goal ~ that new note is your new "lowest note"!

Depending on how far along you are, this whole drill may take only seconds or it might be weeks before your next note appears. If you can't take the good sound lower, then don't. Go back and stick to the higher pitch for now.

~ Practice that new low note a lot.
~ Try sliding into and out of the next lower note from time to time.
~ When the next lower note comes in beautifully, now sing that.
~ Keep adding notes this way until you have all the notes you need.

It's easy to try to go too far too fast, but then you get nowhere. The real, real secret is to make the good sound color you want, THEN stretch farther, but not too far or too fast.

I'm glad you asked that question. I've been meaning to post the answer on this blog. Now, here it is!

Yours, Gary

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Harmonics Demo script

the Harmonics Demo Tape Script, Draft One:

Purpose: show fantastic vocalizing, song selection and presence in a short clip -
Capture interest and direct potential buyers to next contact
Caveat: We're limited to snippets of tunes unless we pay mechanical repro rights.
Request: comments, please. Recording is slated Jan 11

------BEGIN Script-------

Voice Over - (slate or movie bass sound)
"The Harmonics. dot com. demo track. Take One"

Group - (Get Ready, bridge)
"Whoa, I'm bringing you a love that's true. Get ready, Get ready.
I'm gonna try to make you love me too. get ready, get ready
Get ready 'cause here I come." ---
Get ready 'cause here I come!"

VO "
"The Harmonics. Dot com. Vocal Acapella. 2009. Not 1909

Group - (Romance[If I can get it], verse 4)
"Romance, I know it sounds old-fashioned, But the fashion is a passion with me
By chance of falling in love, I love the feeling passionately...
I'll take romance if I can get it, give me just one night, you won't regret it.."

"The Harmonics. Dot com. Corporate friendly. Family friendly. just. friendly.

Group (Kiss the Girl, verse 5)
"Sing wit' me now... Sha-la-la-la-la-la Don’t be scared
You got the mood prepared, Go on and kiss the girl
Sha-la-la-la-la-la Don’t stop now
Don’t try to hide it how, You wanna kiss the girl,
go now kiss the girl ..."

"The Harmonics. Dot Com. Four voices. Maybe microphones. Fits anywhere.

Group. (A Wink and A Smile, bridge 2)
"and now, Now my heart is music, such a simple song
sing it again, the notes never end. This is where I belong, belong
Just the sound of your voice the light in your eyes,
we're so far away from yesterday...

"from Portland Oregon. Hal, T.J. Gary and Tom. For rent.

Group (And So It Goes, verse 3)
"so I would share this room with you, that's if the choice were mine to make,
but you can make decisions, too, and you can have this heart to break"

"the Harmonics."

Group (Get Ready, tag)
"You know I never met a girl that makes me feel the way that you do.
Whoa, you're all right"

(long pause) dot com.

----End script-----

Yours, Gary Shannon
I teach online voice lessons! My passion: Your art.
4022 SE 100th Ave. Portland OR 97266 503-761-1837
( 8-{D} Balding, bespectacled, mustachioed, happy, bearded guy, usually open mouthed.