Jeff Lunden

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.

Lunden contributed several segments to the Peabody Award-winning series The NPR 100, and was producer of the NPR Music series Discoveries at Walt Disney Concert Hall, hosted by Renee Montagne. He has produced more than a dozen documentaries on musical theater and Tin Pan Alley for NPR — most recently A Place for Us: Fifty Years of West Side Story.

Other documentaries have profiled George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen and Jule Styne. Lunden has won several awards, including the Gold Medal from the New York Festival International Radio Broadcasting Awards and a CPB Award.

Lunden is also a theater composer. He wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Arthur Kopit's Wings (book and lyrics by Arthur Perlman), which won the 1994 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Other works include Another Midsummer Night, Once on a Summer's Day and adaptations of The Little Prince and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Theatreworks/USA.

Lunden is currently working with Perlman on an adaptation of Swift as Desire, a novel of magic realism from Like Water for Chocolate author Laura Esquivel. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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1:03am

Sat January 26, 2013
Music News

The Composer Who Tested Fighter Planes And Partied With Sinatra

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 4:36 pm

Jimmy Van Heusen with Frank Sinatra in the 1950s. Van Heusen wrote dozens of songs for the crooner and became Sinatra's close friend and confidant.
Courtesy of Burns Media Productions

You've never heard of Jimmy Van Heusen? Well, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has. You certainly know many of his songs, says Brook Babcock, Van Heusen's grandnephew and president of his publishing company.

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2:47am

Tue January 8, 2013
Theater

A Vet's Haunted Homecoming In 'Water By The Spoonful'

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:06 am

Liza Colon-Zayas plays a troubled character named Odessa Ortiz, who finds her better self online. She's pictured above with Bill Heck, as Fountainhead.
Richard Termine

The cliche about writers is they should write what they know, and that old saw has certainly worked for Quiara Alegria Hudes. The 35-year-old playwright has mined her Puerto Rican family's stories into a series of plays, a musical and even a children's book. Now, her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Water by the Spoonful, is being brought to life in the first New York production of the play, opening off-Broadway on Tuesday evening.

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3:03am

Fri November 30, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

The Peony Pavilion: A Vivid Dream In A Garden

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 8:43 pm

A garden serves as the stage in the opera.
Zhang Yi

The Peony Pavilion is one of China's most famous operas, but uncut performances of this romantic 16th century work can take more than 22 hours. Chinese composer Tan Dun, who's best known for his Academy Award-winning score for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has adapted the work into a compact 75 minutes.

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11:00pm

Fri November 9, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

John Williams' Inevitable Themes

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 9:52 am

Flanked by composer Leonard Slatkin and soprano Jessye Norman, John Williams takes a bow during his 80th-birthday celebration at Tanglewood in August.
Stu Rosner

For more than 50 years, John Williams' music has taken us to galaxies far, far away through adventures here on earth, made us feel giddy joy and occasionally scared us to death.

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1:03am

Thu October 18, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Philadelphia Orchestra Reboots With New Music Director

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 11:11 am

Yannick Nezet-Seguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Ryan Donnell

Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot.

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3:06pm

Wed October 10, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

During Lockout Season, Orchestra Musicians Grapple With Their Future

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 12:05 pm

The Minnesota Orchestra is one of many orchestras around the country dealing with labor disputes.
Greg Helgeson

It's been a tumultuous time for American orchestras. Labor disputes have shut down the Minnesota Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony, and strikes and lockouts have affected orchestras in Chicago, Atlanta and Louisville in the past year.

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2:33pm

Tue September 18, 2012
Theater

Shorts Inspire Music In 'Sounding Beckett' Trilogy

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:09 pm

In Ohio Impromptu, one of three short plays featured in Sounding Beckett, the silent character (Philip Goodwin, left, with Ted van Griethuysen) inspired music based on knocks and repetitions.
Jeremy Tressler Sounding Beckett

It all began last year, when the Library of Congress presented Samuel Beckett's Ohio Impromptu alongside a piece of music by composer Dina Koston, which responded to the text. A New York group, the Cygnus Ensemble, played the music, while Washington, D.C., director Joy Zinoman staged the play, for one night only.

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5:39am

Sat August 4, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Gathering Of The Viols: The 50th Annual Viola Da Gamba Conclave

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:59 pm

Jack Ashworth, Tina Chancey, Lisa Terry and Phillip Serna perform Sunday during the closing banquet of the weeklong conclave at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.
Scott Mason

Viola da gamba players are a special breed — a tiny subset in the already small world of early classical music. They rarely meet their own kind, but once a year they come together for a week in July at an annual jam session they call a conclave. Wendy Gillespie, who just finished her term as president of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, says attending the event is the highlight of her year.

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12:47pm

Sun July 15, 2012
Remembrances

'Oklahoma!' Actress Celeste Holm Dies At 95

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 5:10 pm

Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm has died. A star on both stage and screen, Holm was best known for roles in Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve and Oklahoma! She was 95.

Holm died early Sunday morning in her Manhattan apartment with her husband, family and close friends by her side. She had been hospitalized a couple weeks ago following a fire in actor Robert De Niro's apartment in the same building.

If there was one role that put Holm on the map, it was as the coquettish Ado Annie, in the 1943 hit musical, Oklahoma!

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1:03am

Sat July 14, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Tanglewood: Celebrating Beethoven In The Backwoods For 75 Years

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:22 pm

Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Boston Symphony play Beethoven in the opening night concert of the Tanglewood Festival's 75th anniversary.
Hilary Scott Boston Symphony

It now seems like a natural rite of summer — open-air classical music festivals where audiences can hear great music while picnicking under the stars. But 75 years ago, when the Boston Symphony first performed on a former estate called Tanglewood in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, it was a novel idea.

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3:54pm

Fri June 29, 2012
Music News

Young Musicians Leave Nest For New Opportunities

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 7:48 am

Nathan Schram (back row, third from left) performs with his students from PS 75 in Brooklyn.
Stephanie Berger Getty Images

The odds of making it in the classical music business are long, but for the past two years, 25-year-old viola player Nathan Schram has received a stipend, health insurance, lots of amazing performance opportunities and a real-world education teaching violin students at an inner-city elementary school in Brooklyn. Now, Schram and his colleagues have to say goodbye to The Academy.

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1:03am

Sat June 2, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

A (Very) Young Composer Gets His Chance At The New York Philharmonic

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:51 pm

Very Young Composer Milo Poniewozik at the New York Philharmonic's School Day Concerts, where his piece was performed in front of more than 2,000 kids.
Michael DiVito New York Philharmonic

What would it be like if you were 10 years old and composed a piece of music that was played by the New York Philharmonic? For a few New York City school kids, including one fifth-grader, it's a dream come true, thanks to the orchestra's Very Young Composers program.

Composer Jon Deak, who played bass with the New York Philharmonic for more than 40 years, says the idea for Very Young Composers came when he and conductor Marin Alsop visited an elementary school in Brooklyn several years ago.

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3:12pm

Wed April 18, 2012
Theater

London Smash 'Two Guvnors' Comes To Broadway

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 4:54 pm

Adapted from The Servant of Two Masters, the new comedy One Man, Two Guvnors follows the "always famished and easily confused" Francis Henshall (James Corden, left), who must combat his own befuddlement while keeping both of his employers — a local gangster and criminal-in-hiding Stanley Stubbers (Oliver Chris) — from meeting.
Tristram Kenton

If you weren't a college theater major, you can be forgiven for not knowing much about commedia dell'arte, the 500-year-old theatrical tradition that Carlo Goldoni used for his comedy The Servant of Two Masters in 1743. Contemporary playwright Richard Bean has adapted that play into the decidedly British laugh riot One Man, Two Guvnors -- and he says all you really need to know about commedia is ... well, it's funny.

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11:01pm

Wed February 29, 2012
Theater

'Carrie' Creators Resurrect A Legendary Flop

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 11:18 am

Molly Ranson plays the title role in the off-Broadway reworking of Carrie, directed by Stafford Arima and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore.
Joan Marcus

Broadway history is littered with flop musicals — but if some shows are bombs, then Carrie, based on Stephen King's best-selling 1974 novel, was kind of a nuclear bomb.

The story of a teenager with telekinetic powers who wreaks bloody havoc on her small Maine town had already been successfully adapted as a film starring Sissy Spacek in 1976. But as a musical?

Frank Rich was theater critic for The New York Times when the show opened in April 1988. He called it a musical wreck that "expires with fireworks like the Hindenburg."

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11:01pm

Thu February 9, 2012
Performing Arts

Colonial History, Through The Eyes Of The Colonized

Pascale Armand plays Jekesai, later christened as Ester, who's taken in by a black Catholic missionary when she flees an arranged marriage in 1890s Rhodesia.
T. Charles Erickson McCarter Theatre

Actor and writer Danai Gurira sometimes refers to herself as a "Zimerican": She was born in Iowa, but spent most of her childhood in Harare, Zimbabwe — where her new play, The Convert, is set.

"I grew up there from age 5 to 19," Gurira says. "I'm back there every year, but I feel like there are things that I had to dig out through this process of creating this play."

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