Libretto by Lorraine Feather Music by Bill Elliott
Based on a story by Katherine Mansfield
The artistic collaboration between Barbara Hannigan and Bill Elliott began in 2016 with their acclaimed “Girl Crazy” Suite, an exotic medley of Gershwin songs conceived as a companion piece to Alban Berg’s “Lulu” Suite. The eclectic arrangement reflects the 1930s modernism and the respectful friendship between the two very different composers. Both pieces appeared on the CD Crazy Girl Crazy which won a Grammy for Best Classical Solo Vocal album. Ms. Hannigan has since performed the Gershwin medley widely with numerous orchestras in Europe and the U.S.
Elliott describes this piece as having elements of both Hannigan’s contemporary classical tastes and his own more traditional tonal voice.
Like the Gershwin medley, the juxtaposition of different musical flavors creates a unique palette that brings the 1918 story to life in a way that feels true both to its own time and to our own.
While “Bliss” was created specifically for Barbara Hannigan, it is also available for other sopranos to perform. For rental information, a perusal score, and instrumentation requirements, please write to Bill Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Remarkable Sparkle McBride”
Text by John Lithgow + Music by Bill Elliott
Sparkle McBride is a young musical prodigy who takes up different instruments – violin, flute, trombone, xylophone – gets disgusted with each of them in turn, then discovers that what she really wants to do is be the conductor of the orchestra.
This piece started life as a children’s book by John Lithgow, “The Remarkable Farkle McBride”, about a young boy. In 2000 Bill Elliott composed the orchestral setting as a kind of child’s guide to the orchestra, with solos by many instruments followed by a roller-coaster musical collage with the Farkle themes presented in different symphonic styles.
Lithgow and Elliott recorded the piece on the album “Farkle and Friends” and performed it to great acclaim with major symphony orchestras, including the Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. The piece has since been performed by a number of orchestras around the country.
In 2019 Bill Elliott conceived the idea of creating a new, improved version of the piece and reintroducing it to the world through YouTube, with the ultimate intention of getting it into the repertoire of many orchestras. He received the Newbury Comics Fellowship Award from Berklee College of Music with funding for the project, but had to wait three years because of Covid to bring it to fruition.
In 2022 the remarkable soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan agreed to record the newly updated version in London with the BBC Concert Orchestra. But she had a request: could this now be about a little girl, so girls would know that they too can become conductors? Accordingly, the protagonist became Sparkle McBride, a change that has been welcomed as in step with the times.
In the new YouTube video, Barbara Hannigan gives a bravura performance as both the narrator/soprano and the conductor. But composer Bill Elliott expects future performances to involve both a conventional narrator and a conventional conductor.
For rental information, a perusal score, and instrumentation requirements, please write to Bill Elliott at email@example.com.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an upbeat addition to Amazon's original offerings, propelled by a playful yet poignant performance by Rachel Brosnahan.
In 1958 New York, Midge Maisel's life is on trackj - husband, kids, and elegant Yom Kippur dinners in their Upper West Side apartment. But when her life takes a surprise turn, she has to quickly deicde what else she's good at - and going from housewife to stand-up comic is a wild choice to everyone but her. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, with orchestrations by Bill Elliott.
(2019) Taking cues from the music of Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway, Leslie Odom Jr.’s new album Mr feeds on traditions from a variety of musical genres.
Taking cues from the music of Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway, Leslie Odom Jr.’s new album Mr feeds on traditions from a variety of musical genres. Released this November, this is the second album of original work that Odom Jr. has released, after his debut album in 2014. Mr showcases all of Odom Jr.’s different musical talents with elements of jazz, R&B, and hints of Broadway. Orchestrations by Bill Elliott.
"Chicago In Concert" - Bill Elliott's "reimagined, deconstructed" & expanded orchestrations elevate the tone & mood of many of the show's numbers.
Bill Elliott's "reimagined, deconstructed" and expanded orchestrations elevate the tone and mood of many of the show's numbers, creating soundscapes that simply cannot be created by a smaller jazz hall band. For example, the expansive string orchestrations provide an air of extravagant elegance to numbers such as "Funny Honey" and "All I Care About." Also, the percussive possibilities of a full symphony have clearly allowed Elliott to have fun outside of a standard drum kit, adding sounds reminiscent of tolling church bells and the clanging of bars in a jail cell. Audience favorites remain as captivating as ever while gaining a compositional complexity that give numbers such as "Cell Block Tango" and "We Both Reached For The Gun" all the clattering, accumulated energy of a speeding train.
2019 Kennedy Center Honors show:
"I Got Rhythm" performed by Audra McDonald, Yuja Wang, the New World Symphony and arranged by Bill Elliott.
"The biggest surprise musically may have been Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, on stage to salute San Francisco Symphony Conductor Tilson Thomas, returning briefly to play the drums in a version of “I’ve Got Rhythm” that included Audra McDonald, classical pianist Yuja Wang and a New World Symphony Alumni Orchestra, from the group TIlson Thomas began in Miami.”
"Mademoiselle in New York"
Lucienne Renaudin Vary, Bill Elliott, and the BBC Concert Orchestra perform George Gershwin, Maurice Ravel, Leonard Bernstein, and more.
French trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary makes a musical transatlantic crossing with her second album for Warner Classics. Mademoiselle in New York majors on American and French composers and songwriters – Bernstein, Gershwin, Ravel and Aznavour among them – featuring music from West Side Story, An American in Paris and Candide. Lucienne is joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Tony Award-winning music director Bill Elliott, and, in Bobby Hebb’s song ‘Sunny’, by her brothers Philémon (on double bass) and Bartholomé (on guitar). As Lucienne says, “It’s a number that’s full of sun, light and hope.”
Barbara Hannigan's "Girl Crazy" Suite performed in Europe to great acclaim!
Her album CRAZY GIRL CRAZY wins Grammy!
In 2016 Barbara Hannigan commissioned Bill Elliott to arrange and orchestrate a suite of songs from the Gershwin musical "Girl Crazy" as a companion piece to Alban Berg's "Lulu" Suite, containing elements of 1930's atonal modernism not usually associated with Gershwin. The piece has been recorded with Orchestra Ludwig and performed throughout Europe since 2016. It appears on Barbara Hannigan's latest CD Crazy Girl Crazy which has won a Grammy in the Best Classical Solo Vocal category.