Mamma Mia – Music Director Notes

I just finished a 10-show run of Mamma Mia at McIntyre Hall (Mount Vernon, WA) with Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County WA, a nonprofit community theater group.

On this show I worked as music director, vocal director, rehearsal pianist and Key1/Conductor.

Mamma Mia Music Director Notes

1 Overture

2. I Have A Dream
Cutoff on third “Sophie” – hold and fade on any chord.

3. Honey Honey
Underscore cut m. 67-71 (dialogue goes quick)
Chorus – in rehearsal have chorus sing open “Ah” on all background vocals. This will get them used to having a full open sound – then with open sound, change lip formation to “ooh”
m. 92-103 Key3 – awesome blues piano part but needs to be pianissimo for dialogue
m. 104 vamp – vamp is F7-Bb7 – last time I play G7-C7 so entrance is very clear for chorus

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Pray the Gay Away – serious musical comedy

Public Announcement – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

“Pray the Gay Away” – a serious musical comedy written by Conrad Askland, will premiere November 8-24, 2019 at the Historic Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon, WA (USA). The show will be produced by TAG (Theater Arts Guild of Skagit County, WA) and directed by Lindsey Bowen and Gabriel Guevara.

Auditions will be June 25-27, 2019 in Mount Vernon, WA. Show information and audition signups are available at https://ptgashow.com. Follow the PTGA 2019 show on Facebook at: https://www.Facebook.com/ptgainfo .

 

Conrad Askland (writer) on “Pray the Gay Away – a serious musical comedy

“Pray the Gay Away” is my fourth full length original musical. My previous musicals were Witches (2012), PAN (2013) and Romeo and Juliet (2015). This project is much more complex than my previous projects. The interplay of the book, music and lyrics is very delicate because of the subject matter. “Pray the Gay Away” is about gay conversion therapy. This story takes place in Minnetonka, Minnesota 1982. It is a story about a church, an emerging LGBQT support group and a family caught in the middle of differing views on gay conversion therapy, sexual identity, politics and theology.

A show is never complete until a public paying audience is in front of it. On the November 8, 2019 premiere is when we will know how the general public views this work. I would anticipate, and it should be obvious with a show dealing with politics, religion and sexual identity, that audience views on this musical may differ wildly.

I can tell you that in our many group readings so far, the material of PTGA is landing as I intended it to land. Readers have been surprised to find out that many of the stereotypes they were expecting in the script, were not there at all. I believe the vision for this story is unique. I also believe that it is told in a way that is very entertaining and moving. The show uses humor to address a painfully serious subject that we are currently dealing with in the United States in different ways. Not just gay conversion therapy, but also the topic of gay conversion therapy in its application to adolescents.

I have been working on the book, music and lyrics of “Pray the Gay Away” for many years. My fear had always been that I was too late to bring this to the stage. Too late to be socially relevant. Too late to make a difference. The sad truth, here in 2019, is that if anything, I am too early in bringing this to the stage. The battle still wages on as strong as it ever has.

It is time to take this topic and bring it to the stage in a new light. The subject of gay conversion therapy needs to be talked about more. It should not, and cannot, be swept under the rug anymore.

This is not a show I want to do. This is a show I have to do. To quote the great 16th century theologian Martin Luther:

“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
(Martin Luther)

– Conrad Askland (April 2, 2019)

The Power of Synopsis in Script Outlines

I’ve been hunkered down in creating the outline for my fourth musical theater work. A massive amount of time has been spent reviewing and refining my knowledge on the process and getting back in gear. Quite a bit of time has been spent on the outline. The reason is that my first script draft, at 70 pages, became so jumbled and confusing that I had to throw it out and start all over. My new approach begins with the outline.

But even with focusing on the outline, my work has quickly ballooned into 80 pages of notes. Not even notes about my specific musical but notes on different approaches to take to script writing. So again I started with a fresh outline of “beats” only to have that, at only 6 pages, start to become a fresh new spider’s web.

You know what process I skipped? The synopsis. And now that I have re-found the synopsis part of the process it is like a lightning bolt for my vision of structure.

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Leadership Approaches for Promoting Change in Organizations

LEADERSHIP APPROACHES FOR PROMOTING CHANGE IN ORGANIZATIONS

Conrad Askland
December 2018 – Colorado State University

 

ABSTRACT

Nonprofit arts organizations can have a particularly difficult experience enacting change within their organizations. This is partly due to the artist mindset that can have a default resistance to change, group and sub-group dynamics that create barriers to change, an ineffective leadership practices to overcome these challenges. This paper will highlight some of the barriers to change that appear in arts organizations as well as provide various leadership approaches that can be effective in facilitating healthy change within those organizations. Included are ancient leadership theories of Lao Tzu, the theory of reverse dominance and constructive dissent by Grint and successful leadership tactics identified by Kotter.

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The Stories Behind Some of the Favorite Christmas Carols of All Time

Music has been an integral part of the Christmas celebration since the earliest years of the celebration. From traditional sacred music to up-tempo tunes, the songs of Christmas are a major part of the holiday.

But how much do you know about the origin stories of your favorite Christmas carols. Here is the story behind some of the most popular and well known Christmas carols of all time.

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Lost Boys – PAN the musical

“Lost Boys” from PAN the musical at the Historic Lincoln Theater, September 2013. Book, music and lyrics by Conrad Askland based on “Peter and Wendy” by JM Barrie.

I wrote “PAN the musical” for META Performing Arts, a youth theater non-profit group in Mount Vernon, WA. PAN is a new version of the Peter Pan story that combined audience interaction, songs for children and some high brow musical theater as well. One critic said it was the perfect show for children AND adults to enjoy together.

PAN the musical website at: http://www.PanMusical.com

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INFP Personality Type

“We all benefit when an INFP personality type goes ‘Sir Lancelot’ on the world.”

Somehow in my graduate studies on Arts Leadership, I ended up taking a personality test. With both the paid personality text on http://www.myersbriggs.org/ and the free personality test at https://www.16personalities.com – I ended up with the INFP personality type.

I’m not much for online tests, but I was really blown away by how accurately these tests described my cognitive and social function. There is the old story about the college psychology professor who hands every person in class their weekly horoscope and asks students to raise their hands if the horoscope is accurate. Usually a large percentage of the class raises their hands, only to find out that they all have the exact same horoscope. In other words, we read so much in to descriptions that seem to match us.

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Skagit Impressions Six – Skagit Violin Dance

I composed this piece as part of a music production course for my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with Berklee College of Music. While taking classes I was on tour as music director with the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai and was fortunate enough to have our violin player from the show, David Piché, record the violin tracks while in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Choosing Your Child’s Piano Teacher: Six Questions to Ask

Piano lessons are an investment of both money and time. Finding the right piano teacher for your child will help your investment lead to successful music education. Asking the following questions will help you choose the right teacher.

 

Is the teacher a member of local, state, or national music organizations?

Membership in music organizations signals that a teacher is interested in staying current with trends in music education. Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the National Federation of Music Clubs, along with the state and local affiliates of these organizations, are some of the well-known groups in which a piano teacher might hold membership. Journals and newsletters typically accompany membership and bring relevant information right to the teacher’s door. Membership also gives the teacher access to continuing education opportunities, including conventions and seminars on music performance and education.

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Six Reasons Why Children Taking Piano Classes Do Better at School

Learning to play the piano is not just about learning a new musical instrument. Playing keyboard instruments improves personality and makes people healthier and happier. Children taking piano classes benefit more because it gives them an edge at an early age. Playing the piano makes children smarter, improves their learning abilities and makes them better students.

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Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Superstar

(Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750)

J.S. Bach’s dad was a musician. J.S.’s uncle was a musician. All four of J.S.’s brothers were musicians and composers. In fact, pretty much everybody in the Bach family were musicians and had been since great-great-great grandpa John Hans Bach, originally a baker, had a mid-life crisis and discovered that he was meant to be a piper instead.

By 1685, when Johann Sebastian Bach was born, the Bachs were the German Baroque equivalent of our modern day musical Jackson family. The Bachs were well-known, highly connected, and prosperous. They served as musicians to Dukes, were musical directors at important churches, and were directors of renowned choirs. Even the ladies of the family got in on the act. J.S.’s second wife was a popular singer.

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My Photos at 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Here are some of my photos from the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. For my show reviews and thoughts go to:
http://conradaskland.com/blog/edinburgh-fringe-2017-shows-thoughts/

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an annual theater destination with hundreds of different shows to attend from stand up comics, musical theater to the absurd and serious theater genres. This year was the 70th annual Fringe and it was awesome!

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Tarragona – Solo Piano Improvisation

“Tarragona” is a piano improvisation by Conrad Askland. Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.

In this video you can see the far stone wall behind the piano. That stone wall is part of a guard tower that is dated to be at least 800 years old. Used at one point as a guard tower and later as part of a winery.

I thought about the long history of this special place in Spain and let my fingers color the imagination of what I saw in my mind’s eye.

Varekai Band 2017

Musicians from the Cirque du Soleil Varekai band taken June 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania by Gabrielus Jauniskis.

From left to right: David Piché (violin), Conrad Askland (bandleader and keyboards), Mikey Hachey (bass), Isabelle Corradi (singer), Jamieson Lindenberg (singer), Damion Corideo (percussion), Jose Manuel Pizarro Carmona (winds) and Paul James Bannerman (drums).

It is an absolute pleasure to work with this group of musicians!

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My Edinburgh Fringe 2017 – Shows and Thoughts

I attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a 70 year old theater festival in Scotland, from August 14-23, 2017 and it was incredible. In all my travels this has got to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

In 9 days I attended 30 shows. Many more were booked but it was such an overload that I just had to take some time off here and there. My friends ask “Did you see the castles?” No. “Did you see the Military Tattoo?” No. I was here for shows.

My show thoughts and reviews are below. If interested in photos I took at the 70th annual fringe go here:

My Photos at 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

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