How to Succeed in Music

From a Tony-winning musical to the Oregon Bach Festival

Lynnea Barry and Dylan Stasack in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at The Shedd
Lynnea Barry and Dylan Stasack in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at The Shedd

Long before Mad Men there was How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, the 1961 musical that satirized American corporate culture via humor rather than pathos. Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning spoof chronicles the classic rags-to-riches story of a window washer who rises to the executive suite, providing plentiful opportunity for skewering the toadying, manipulative, deceptive behavior demanded by the system of ambitious greasy pole-climbers.

But unlike many issue-oriented shows, How to Succeed avoids being trapped in its time and place by including such elements as a love story, sly humor and, of course, Loesser’s irresistible songs, including “I Believe in You” and “The Company Way.” Why, there’s even a nod to gender equality (“A Secretary Is Not A Toy”).

That timeless appeal explains the success of its many revivals (most notably on Broadway in the mid-’90s and in 2011) and its continuing appeal for Eugene audiences, who can catch The Shedd’s production opening Friday and running through June 28; Peg Major directs the action, Robert Ashens the music, with choreography by Caitlin Christopher.

The brief interval between the end of the main classical music season and the beginning of the Oregon Bach Festival is a bit of a dead zone, classical music-wise, but in-the-know readers can enjoy free music on the UO campus. At 7 pm Friday, June 19, you can plop your blanket down on the UO Memorial Quad and hear wind band music by Frank Ticheli, Malcolm Arnold, John Philip Sousa and more.

On Sunday afternoon at 2 pm, June 21, at the UO Collier House, the university’s annual summer Flute Extremes (FluX) workshop recital includes music from the 18th through 20th centuries, including works by Telemann, recent Pulitzer winner David Lang and other contemporary composers, including a pair of UO alumni. The following Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm, June 28, classical guitar fans can catch a concert by guitarists Alexander Rockwell and Craig Einhorn, singer Joy Meyer and accordionist John Polese at the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

The big music news at the UO is the return of Eugene’s most venerable musical rite of summer June 25, when the Oregon Bach Festival returns with two-dozen concerts in 18 days. Stay tuned for our full coverage next week, but you might want to grab tickets now for the opening week concerts, which erupt with The Creation on June 25 at the Hult Center. After one of the most famous opening scenes in music — which could be the soundtrack to the Big Bang — Joseph Haydn’s mighty oratorio uses his most colorful music to paint scenic portraits of the events and even animals described in the Christian creation myth.

On June 26, Portland rocker-turned-theater singer Storm Large joins the OBF orchestra at the Hult to reprise her 2013 star turn in Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht’s searing 1933 satire, The Seven Deadly Sins, with help from the superb vocal quartet Hudson Shad.

Don’t worry, a preacher’s on the way to save us from all that sinnin’ — courtesy of Aaron Copland’s ballet score, Appalachian Spring, whose 1944 premiere featured Merce Cunningham. Happily, the mostly 20th-century show starts with an overture by one of today’s hottest young composers, San Francisco’s Mason Bates.

Still another contemporary piece is onstage at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall at 9 pm Sunday, June 28: Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s magnificent Passio sets the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a more contemplative way than we’re used to at the festival, which regularly features J.S. Bach’s immortal Passion settings. Craig Hella Johnson, who leads Austin’s superb Conspirare chorus, conducts one of the festival’s most recommended concerts.