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a Broadway Overture (2024)

for bassoon quintet (and percussion)

There was a time when attending a Broadway musical had a predictable preamble. When you walked through the door, your ticket would be torn by a taker in the lobby before you were led to your seat. There, you could settle in until the lights dimmed, and the orchestra swelled. In the darkness, you and your fellow audience members would be transported by the melodies of the musical you were about to see, getting a sneak peek at the songs you would be singing upon your exit. By the time the curtain rose, you would be on the edge of your seat, ready to witness the world that such intoxicating melodies were born from.

At least that's the romantic notion. In reality, mid-century overtures served dual purposes: while they did set the stage for the show, they also served as a 5- to 10-minute warning for audience members to get to their seats. Whereas today, most theatres utilize a bell or chime system, as well as a dimming of the lights to instruct patrons to take their seats, overtures were not dissimilar to the opening credits of a mid-century film: well-crafted enough to be enjoyed, but also providing a buffer for last-minute patrons. In archival audience recordings of many mid-century musicals, it is not unusual to hear patrons talking over the overture, finishing their conversations prior to taking their seats.

source: Hall, M. (2023, January 27). Whatever happened to overtures? Playbill.

'a Broadway Overture' is the opening of a fictional musical, presenting all major themes this show would have. From the humourous dance tune to the big love ballad. The bassoon quintet acts as the pit orchestra, famous for its doublings. Something that is taken quite literally in this piece.



Instrumentation | Extra Information

Bassoon Quintet


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Duration: ca. 3'50

'a Broadway Overture' premiered on 15 March 2024 in the RCM Performance Hall in London
Performed by Keane Lui, Joe Lyndley, Aidan Campbell, Jamie King & Eva Serksnaite

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