Rick Lewis: The music man behind BellaVoci
December 9, 2016
Artists Rep Resident Artist and curator of the theatre’s In Concert series, Susannah Mars sat down with Portland music director, producer and composer Rick Lewis recently to talk about BelloVoci and the group’s second year of holiday season performances at Artists Rep.
SM: So, I am wondering if you can share, what was your inspiration for BelloVoci?
RL: There was nothing like it, to my knowledge, in the pop/mainstream/classical arena in the city here. Something that was romantic, had a classic feel, and was sexy at the same time. Nothing that has the same effect as three handsome guys, with beautiful voices, singing together.
SM: So, when you started building the show, you had Norman [Wilson], Tim [Suenkel], and Matt [Hayward] in mind?
RL: I had several guys in mind. So it was serendipitous that it’s a perfect combination of guys.
SM: So, you’ve chosen a lot of music for the show. Which are your favorite composers and why did you gravitate to them for the holidays?
RL: It’s music that I’m drawn to, as opposed to a specific composer … I like music that actually has some meat to them… something that…
SM: Like grandiosity in the sound?
RL: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Romance and not sappy. I think your use of the word grandiose is great. Even so, I would say I probably was drawn to the music of Josh Groban. His selection of music is really strong and intense and it has a really poetic feel.
SM: What comes to mind is an emotional core.
RL: Well, that’s the magic of music, how it can get under your skin. It doesn’t really matter what the story is, the sonority is so compelling and that’s what I’m trying to do with BelloVoci.
SM: What’s your idea of a perfect evening or day during the holidays?
RL: Unplugging. Sitting with Marv and my dogs and watching an old movie. Hanging out and unplugging. And probably no music.
SM: … because it’s your profession, you’ve gotta unwind from that. Is there anyone in the world that you would like to meet?
RL: Well, yeah, Michael Buble. Yeah, he’s the real deal. He’s such an incredible storyteller. It’s not just about what he does with his voice, it’s the way his voice wraps around the story and that’s what makes him accessible. And Hillary Clinton!
SM: Finally, what are your favorite tunes in BelloVoci?
RL: Well, I love “Little Alter Boy.” That song has been one of my favorites my whole life. I’m not Catholic, I don’t know why I love it. There’s something just so innocent about it. “Still, Still, Still” is one of my favorite holiday songs. We have a BelloVoci arrangement of “Thankful,” which is a Carol Bayer Sager, Richard Page and David Foster song, which Josh Groban did. I think that’s just exquisite. I don’t think there’s too much in the Christmas or holiday catalogue that I don’t find appealing, except maybe “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” I could do without that.
SM: Well, that’s a perfect ending to a wonderful talk with you today.
RL: Thank you, Susannah.
Rick Lewis is the creator/author/musical arranger of the hit Off-Broadway musical The Taffetas, with productions around the world. Rick has also written the Off-Broadway productions The Cardigans--Those Swingin' Singin' Guys from Alpha Mu Phi Pi, (Backstage New York Bistro Award for Outstanding Musical Revue), and Have a Nice Day! -- A 70's Musical Flashback. Rick has written and/or arranged original music for Disney Family Live Entertainment, American Hawaii Cruises, MGM/UA Home Video, the Democratic National Convention, Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, American West Steamboat Company, American Hawaii Cruises and American Classic Voyages. He served as audition pianist for the pre-Broadway workshop of Sunday in the Park with George, and was vocal director and assistant conductor for the pre-Broadway production of Cy Coleman's The Life.
Rick's conductor/musical director credits are numerous. He is resident musical director/conductor for Portland Center Stage, where he has conducted the world premiere of the new pre-Broadway musical Somewhere in Time, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, Black Pearl Sings, Oklahoma (Drammy Award, Musical Direction), Imaginary Inavlid, Sunset Boulevard, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ragtime(Drammy, Musical Direction; PAMTA, Musical Direction), Guys and Dolls (Drammy, Musical Direction), Cabaret, West Side Story (Drammy, Musical Direction), Fantasticks, Bat Boy; the Musical. He composed original music for PCS's production of A Christmas Carol, which ran for three consecutive holiday seasons.
Read more about Rick HERE.