We all have heard the music of Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. Their Broadway musicals have been turned into movies, and revived on stage countless times in New York, London, and around the world. Their best known songs have been in the standard repertoire of singers and jazz musicians everywhere - virtually since they were written - in the 1940s and '50s. The musical richness and emotional honesty of these songs is powerful, transcending the style and the era in which they were created. The songs continue to thrive well into the 21st century - in concert and into our homes via contemporary TV shows, brand-building commercials, and regular presentations of the movie musicals themselves.
Living in Doylestown, I can’t help but feel somehow close to Oscar Hammerstein ll. I stand in front of his “Highland Farm” and can see him, stepping out on the balcony to fresh air while he is still deep in thought. I can see him on the porch on a Sunday evening adoring the land and the sky, listening all the while to the lark in the meadow. I can’t help but get emotional entering his home and knowing he created such treasures there.
When I found out a little over a year ago that his house was at risk of being torn down because it needed costly repairs, as well as being now on very valuable land, I was shocked and terribly upset. How could anyone think of this happening? Not only did Oscar write “Oklahoma” at Highland Farm, he also wrote “Carousel”, “South Pacific”, “The King and I”, and “The Sound of Music”, as well as others. He grappled with controversial issues of discrimination and race, and other humanitarian topics. He helped in his community. He mentored another major influential artist, his young neighbor Stephen Sondheim. How can this house go away? How can we possibly think of letting it happen?
I had always wanted to perform songs from Oscar Hammerstein Musicals. Suddenly, I was moved to do so more than ever! I had to record his songs, I had to bring them to Oscar’s home. I wanted to sing to him in his living room, or on his porch. I wanted to exult in the nuances of his words, with no distraction from an orchestra or an operatic interpretation. I wanted to express the soul of the writer, with only my guitar as the orchestra. I wanted to sit beside him and thank him. I call my CD (album), “Out of My Dreams”.
I am offering this music, exclusively, for the support of this enchanted place. I have also created several artworks and donated them to Highland Farm to be auctioned, with all proceeds to go to the Hammerstein Museum. This, too, was driven by my love for Oscar Hammerstein ll (a profoundly great human) and his contribution to the American Musical. I intend for art to support art. It’s my way. I am a musician, a composer, a visual artist. I followed my heart to bring this to you.
I hope you will consider helping and spreading the word about saving Oscar Hammerstein’s home, Highland Farm, and allow it to be a place people from all over the world can visit and experience, just as I am so fortunate to do, living only 2 miles away.
With love and gratitude,