Get your bossa nova on at Seattle Symphony's first pops concert of the season: "The Cocktail Hour: Music of the 'Mad Men' Era." Steven Reineke is guest conductor for the series of concerts, Sept. 27-30, 2012.
Baby boomers are understandably associated with the rise of rock and roll in the 1950s and ’60s.
But for anyone whose father could have been a contemporary of “Mad Men’s” midcentury advertising maestro Don Draper, a well-remembered soundtrack of that era not only includes Elvis Presley and the Beatles, but also: the sophisticated, carefree hits of composer Henry Mancini (the Grammy-winning “The Music from ‘Peter Gunn’ “), Broadway music-and-lyrics master Frank Loesser (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” whose then-30-year-old star, Robert Morse, appears on the AMC series “Mad Men”) and kooky lounge-music writer Juan García Esquivel (“Latin-Esque”).
This was the music of postwar cocktail parties, one of those adult mysteries that young boomers, sometimes in pajamas, might have witnessed from a distance in their homes.
The Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s first pops show of the new concert season, “The Cocktail Hour: Music of the ‘Mad Men’ Era,” is a salute to the lush instrumentals and songs typically flowing from handsome stereo cabinets at the time.
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“The concert will capture the essence of that swanky, really groovy feeling of the period,” says guest conductor Steven Reineke, who last led the Seattle orchestra in 2010 with a pops program called “Broadway Rocks.”
Reineke, 42, says the Benaroya show is the first time the “Cocktail Hour” program has been performed since a 2011 debut in Carnegie Hall.
“I created the show for (Broadway star and Washington native) Cheyenne Jackson,” Reineke says. “He and I have a similar sensibility about music, and that era speaks to us.”
Reineke, music director of the New York Pops, gathered vintage material by the likes of Burt Bacharach, Duke Ellington and Anthony Newley, as well as a couple of retro tunes by Amy Winehouse and Brian Setzer, and fashioned what promises to be a special, eclectic and all-ages concert.
Reineke has recruited for “Cocktail Hour” strong vocal talent familiar to local audiences. Hugh Panaro, currently on Broadway in “The Phantom of the Opera,” was the memorable star of the 5th Avenue Theatre’s 2009 “Sunday in the Park with George.” Katherine Strohmaier has performed in recent years at 5th Avenue and Village Theatre musicals.
A male quartet derived from Vocalpoint! Seattle will join the fun.
Program highlights include Esquivel’s nutty, urbane “Mini Skirt,” the Tom Jones torch song “I (Who Have Nothing),” a Bacharach medley, and Panaro and Strohmaier on the Frank and Nancy Sinatra hit “Somethin’ Stupid” and Mancini’s velvet “Charade.”
Also on the bill is Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do,” Loesser’s “Luck Be a Lady,” and Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s “Feeling Good.”
Reineke, whose own new season includes traveling shows dedicated to composers Sammy Cahn, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Schwartz, will begin “Cocktail Hour” with a tribute to Seattle Symphony’s late pops conductor, Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch died Aug. 6.
Reineke took over the pops director position from Hamlisch at Kennedy Center’s National Symphony two years ago.
“He was a wonderfully generous man and an incredible talent in our industry,” Reineke says.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org