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Mark Twain’s World: A Symphonic Journey with Genuine Thespians (2005)

Mark Twain’s World: A Symphonic Journey with Genuine Thespians
for Orchestra and a cast of 15 actors, based on the Autobiography of Mark Twain, 1 hour and 45 minutes

Commissioned by The Stockton Symphony, Stockton, California, made possible by a Music Alive/Meet the Composer grant; premiered April, 2005

Mark Twain’s World: An Orchestral Journey with Genuine Thespians
By Chris Brubeck
Mark Twain was born in 1835 as Halley’s Comet burned across the sky. He left this earth riding Halley’s Comet 76 years later (as he hoped) on April 21, 1910. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone 100 years, because his voice is still such a vital part of American culture. Chris Brubeck, composer and playwright, based his Work on Mark Twain’s Autobiography, quoting Twain’s own words as much as possible.

“Nobody has written a play that totally integrates music with action .. it’s practically a new art form.” – Maestro Peter Jaffe

The costumed cast of 12 actors dominates the stage and interacts with the orchestra throughout the 90 minute production. Minimal stage sets and theatrical lighting combine to create an imaginative atmosphere. At various times actors enter from the audience. There’s even one scene where a small band plays in from the lobby, marching up to the stage proclaiming the opening of “The Royal Nonesuch” in their very own little hamlet! Twain enjoyed popular music, and this is reflected in the wild and eclectic score composed by Chris Brubeck. In addition to the standard symphonic textures, Chris introduces harmonica, guitar, banjo, accordian and even spoons! Twain joked about opera; therefore the composer thought it appropriate to avoid singing, which could possibly dilute the impact of Twain’s caustic wit. The music accompanies and illuminates the magnificence of Twain’s writing. Perhaps this new artistic marriage could be called “Symphonic Theater”.

“At the intersection of the orchestra concert and dramatic theatre lies Mark Twain’s World. This ambitious work stakes out uncharted territory. Neither opera nor musical, MTW features bona fide actors delivering and acting out the provocative words of Twain against an equally powerful score composed by Christopher Brubeck. The net result is a new art form that, to be fully enjoyed, must be heard and seen.” – Paul Conley, Peabody Award winning producer for National Public Radio’s Jazz Profiles series, hosted by singer Nancy Wilson. Senior Producer and Arts Editor, KXJZ News / Capital Public Radio, Sacramento, California

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