David Snyder!

“Neither look forward where there is doubt, nor backward where there is regret.  Look inward, and ask not if there is anything outside that you want, but whether there is anything inside that you have not yet unpacked.”

 Happy Friday!

 Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! I keep saying it; this year has flown! One of the things that has kept my year on track is the music! I have seen some incredible shows this year! Earlier this year, on March 11th the New York Pops (led by Steven Reineke) celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Judy Garland's iconic 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. The concert was a comeback of sorts for Garland, who had taken a few years off to rest and recover from various problems.

 She came back with a bang. The Carnegie Hall show was loved by America, recorded for prosperity and the recording is popular to this day. I also celebrated my 50th birthday earlier this year! 51 is breathing down my

Something else incredible happened in 1961. David Snyder was born!
David celebrated HIS 50th birthday yesterday, and his the subject of today's blog. Here are a few facts about David. 

DAVID SNYDER has enjoyed a multi-faceted career that has taken him from the scoring stages of Hollywood to Carnegie Hall, where he is the resident pianist and arranger for the New York Pops. His arrangements have been performed worldwide by artists such as Clay Aiken, The Manhattan Transfer, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Billy Porter and Davis Gaines, to name a few. Most recently, David was commissioned by the Gershwin estate to create all new arrangements for Here To Stay: The Gershwin Experience, a new symphonic evening featuring pianist Kevin Cole and Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair.  Other shows David has orchestrated include Ethel Merman’s Broadway, A Shine on Your Shoes, The Molly Maguires, Two On Tap, Pablo, and Insomnia. His film score credits include the 2002 World War II documentary A Tradition of Honor and Forever Plaid: The Movie. 
He has arranged and conducted over 20 recording projects for artists such as Alan Paul, Christine Ebersole and Faith Prince, and served as either pianist or conductor for many others, including Michael Feinstein, Nell Carter, Jason Alexander, Carol Channing, Ann Hampton Callaway, Vicki Lewis, Roslyn Kind, Nannette Fabray and Debbie Reynolds, David’s theatre credits include the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Miserables, as well as his tenure as musical director and co-arranger for Plaid Tidings (Pasadena Playhouse: LA Ovation Award nomination), Compose Yourself! and Bluesbird (York Theatre), and as associate conductor for Pirates! and Oklahoma! at the Paper Mill Playhouse. David studied composition and arranging with Henry Mancini, Allyn Ferguson and Joe Harnell at the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles. Visit him on the web at www.soniclandscapes.com

Arranger/Orchestrator, THE GERSHWINS: HERE TO STAY, Symphony Pops show starring Kevin Cole, Sylvia McNair, Ryan VanDenBoom. Premiere July 15th with the Minnesota Orchestra, and at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony this summer.

Music Supervisor, orchestrator, FOREVER PLAID, THE MOVIE

MD/Conductor for ETHEL MERMAN'S BROADWAY, the El Portal Theatre, Los Angeles, Feb. 16th-27th

Composer, SONG OF THE UNIVERSAL, a new choral work (text by Walt Whitman) being premiered by the Essex County Choral Project on March 6th at the Newark Museum (NJ).

I was thrilled when David consented to this interview. 

Let's start at the beginning...

 David's parents took him to see “Hello, Dolly!” in 1968, when he was 6.  
This was on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. The stars were Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway.  He didn’t exactly follow the story completely, but he was amazed by the music, by the singing and dancing.

He remembers feeling it was one of the most exciting things he had ever seen, especially the energy of the big chorus numbers and the orchestra!
He had just started taking piano lessons, and it really inspired him to continue in music.

Vladamir Horowitz
David was exposed to the arts growing up.  Once he started studying piano, his grandmother often took him to solo piano recitals in New York by some of the greats, including Vladimir Horowitz.  He only wishes he had gotten to see more shows.  His parents moved thems a little farther away from the City – to Glastonbury, CT – so he didn't make it back to anything on Broadway until the late 70’s. 

There was always music in the house – David's Dad was a wonderful singer, although he pursued a different career path.  So when his parents hosted the occasional dinner party, it always included David playing cocktail music before dinner and show tunes afterwards, starting when he was about 10 years old.


David's first time on stage was when he was 6 years old, and his piano teacher, who was also an opera singer, was starring in a production of Madam Butterfly.  She needed someone to play her son, Trouble. So he got the part.  He was told not to speak, and that he was supposed to be very sad because his father had gone away.  He did his best to be sullen throughout. 

David's first professional job was playing background piano at an Italian restaurant in Glastonbury called RAFFA’S, when he was 16.  His father took him in to audition for Frank Raffa, and told him he was 18, even though he looked 12.  It was a very classy place, and he made $12 an hour, which was a lot of money for a teenager in 1978.

David's thoughts on Arts in Education
                We’re lucky enough to live in Maplewood, NJ right now, which has a hugely active arts community, and those priorities are reflected in the public schools.  Most communities are not so lucky.  Some administrators and school boards are misguided enough to regard arts education as a non-essential luxury.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Research has shown that kids who are exposed to the arts and encouraged in their artistic expression develop much better in all areas and perform at a much higher level in their other subjects.  And for some of us, the arts are like breathing; we need to express ourselves in order to survive, in a way.

David's thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)
I’m also campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012.
Carol is a national treasure.  She has experienced the best and the worst that a life in show business has to offer, and has emerged from her many decades of performing with the same love for it that first made her want to set foot on a stage.  She continues to be a consummate professional, rehearsing hard for every engagement, and is truly a pleasure to work with.  Her professionalism and attitude are inspiring to those of us with half as many years in the business; she has not become jaded or bitter, and is still “selling it” to audiences eager for her enthusiasm and commitment.

David's most recent gig was as arranger and musical director for CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC: THE MUSIC OF SCOTT EVAN DAVIS at Birdland, featuring Liz Callaway, Julie Reyburn, Joshua Dixon, Natalie Douglas and several other artists.

 David's next gig is Dec. 30th-Jan. 1st: Marvin Hamlisch, with the Milwaukee Symphony, conducting the symphonic Gershwin show, HERE TO STAY thatDavid arranged and orchestrated for pianist Kevin Cole and Grammy winner Sylvia McNair.  He’ll be there to enjoy the concerts and step in for Marvin in case he gets food poisoning!   
What is your biggest success in Show Business?
I’m probably most proud of the solo album I arranged and conducted for singer Alan Paul, of The Manhattan Transfer.  We did it live, with a 34-piece orchestra at Capitol Studios, and I stood on the same podium that Nelson Riddle, Billy May, and countless others had stood, conducting for legends like Sinatra, Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.  It was an extremely rewarding experience.  And it’s available at www.soniclandscapes.com!

What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?
The year, soon after I started in the business, when I got back to LA from working on cruise ships and had no gigs.  I think once I actually accompanied someone at the Beverly Hills Middle School talent show.  And it’s been all uphill from there!  But seriously, I think it’s a mistake to consider oneself “too good” for any particular kind of work.  There’s no need to burn bridges to your past.  The important thing is to focus on what you find most fulfilling, and create new opportunities in that area.  I think I try to surpass the difficult patches in my professional life with a positive, creative attitude.  And sometimes, opportunities that you might be tempted to dismiss are the ones that teach you the most.

David Snyder is wonderful! I've worked with him on many projects for Charles Bloom and now Scott Evan Davis....I really enjoy working with him...he works so beautifully with singers and is just an amazing musician...I hope I get to do more with him in the future!
Julie Reyburn
Julie Reyburn and Joshua Dixon singing "Walk a Little Slower" for the Music of Scott Evan Davis concert at BIRDLAND on Oct. 31st, 2011 For more info visit www.scottevandavis.com

What one change would David like to see in today’s industry?
The adulation of instant fame.  I begrudge no one their “15 minutes.”  But our media and p.r. machinery all seem intent on appealing to the lowest common denominator – building up celebrities overnight and then watching them crash and burn in excruciating detail.  This makes celebrity itself seem like the goal towards which we should strive, instead of encouraging us to spend that energy developing our abilities and talents to actually excel at something.

Who are David's TOP FIVE models and influences as an artist
I underline that these are ARTISTIC influences, not necessarily people whose lives I would emulate:
1)      My Dad
Leonard Bernstein

Frank Sinatra

John Williams

Stephen Sondheim
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
I think my career has progressed more slowly, in many ways, than I expected.  But every year I get to work on new and challenging projects, so perhaps things are unfolding as they should be.  I turned 50 yesterday and can’t think of too many major decisions I would make differently.  That’s a nice place to be.

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
Not yet!  And I hope I always have that to work towards.

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
I think about how grateful I am for the many blessings I wake up with each day.

If you had all the money in the world...that you needed...would  you continue working.
Absolutely, yes.  But I wouldn’t be playing for the Beverly Hills Middle School talent show.

A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
1:            To be able to sightread ANY music I wished at the piano perfectly.
2:            To be able to speak and understand any language.
3:            To stay in good health all my life.

 I worked with David for 4 successive years on "Plaid Tidings" as the lone understudy at the Pasadena Playhouse. I found David to be intelligent, witty, and instinctively musical with regard to the feel and musicality of all things Plaid. It was a joy to work with him. Phil Gold 

David and I have worked closely together on Ethel Merman's Broadway for over ten years. He is a wonderful person. Very skilled, very supportive and oh so funny! We are a team and I couldn't be happier to work with him. Rita McKenzie

Scott with Liz Callaway and David
 David Snyder possesses one of the most genius musical minds ever to grace the circuit. I found David by chance, while I was searching for an arranger two and a half years ago. 
I contacted him and we worked on our first song of mine together. Since then he has been my musical director, my arranger, my collaborator, my producer and most of all, one of my best friends. There aren't words to describe the love and admiration and gratitude I feel for him. Working with him on our album was the most fulfilling collaboration I have ever had, and I look forward to many more years of creativity, passion for music, and respect.
Scott Evan Davis

While my friendship with David is only fairly brief, I have had the opportunity on two occasions now to dance to his beautiful orchestrations. He has an uncanny knack for constructing orchestrations speak to the dancer. 
When I was choreographing the pieces the movement seemed to just pour out of me because it was all influenced by the music. The moment I knew he had an intuition for dance orchestrations was when we were workshopping the arrangement for "I Got Rhythm" and during the rehearsal he at one point took the floor next to me and demonstrated some dance moves while singing what he was going to orchestrate. 
It was clear that he was very influenced by movement, and having the orchestration and the movement both compliment each other. I hope to dance to more of his work in the future. It makes me feel like I'm back in the 30s dancing to Conrad Salinger arrangements. He certainly has a gift.
-Ryan VanDenBoom

 I really do not know David well. I will say he seems to be very generous of spirit and talent. Through a mutual artist friend I was put in touch with David looking for a jazzy rendition of " White Christmas " for my singer/actor 15 year old daughter to perform. I contacted him, not expecting a response. To my surprise and delight he responded immediately. 
At first he said he did not have any good versions, gave me some options to look etc... Well having exhausted those, he actually took the time to compose one especially for her. My daughter whose name is Kenadi ( Kennedy) performed it for her highschool Holiday Jazz concert. IT was the closing song and the highlight of the evening!!!
Geri Michele Silcox

I haven't had a whole lot of contact with David over the years. We went to elementary school together, and then the next time we bumped into each other was about 25 years later, back stage at Carnegie; he was the music director for a guest artist with the NY Pops and I was then the publicist for Skitch and the Pops.
David was one of the smartest kids in school. He grew up to be just a great guy and family man. 

Mark Dammann Ungemach

Thank you David Snyder for the gifts you give to the world!  Here's to the next 50 years!

A Film by Dori Berinstein
opens in New York and Los Angeles on January 20

Entertainment One US will release CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE in New York and Los Angeles on January 20, 2012, with additional markets to follow.    The film, directed by Dori Berinstein (ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway, Some Assembly Required, Gotta Dance), examines the life and career of Tony Award-winning Broadway legend, Carol Channing – her extraordinary stage life, her offstage struggles and survival and the extraordinary storybook romance that found her reunited with her junior high school sweetheart after over 70 years.  

Carol Channing’s life is as colorful as the lipstick on her big, bright smile. In CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE, director Berinstein and co-writer and editor Adam Zucker capture the magic and vivacity of the 90-year-old icon – both onstage and of, past and present.  The film is both an intimate love story and a rarefied journey inside Broadway's most glamorous era.  It is, above all, a look at an inspiring, incomparable and always entertaining American legend.

“My first Broadway show was Hello, Dolly! at the age of five,” commented producer and director Berinstein.  “I adored her astonishing brilliance on stage, screen and television, but it is Carol’s life behind-the-curtain that had me completely convinced that hers is a life that must be told.”

Carol Channing has been a Broadway star since stopping the show in the 1948 Broadway revue, Lend an Ear.    The following year, she landed on the cover of Time Magazine and won international acclaim for her riotous performance as Lorelei Lee in the musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.   Her Broadway appearances included Show Girl, The Vamp, Wonderful Town, The Millionairess and Four on a Garden.    In 1964, she created the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!, winning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  She would play the role of Dolly over 5,000 times throughout the world, without missing a performance.   Channing also received a Special Tony Award in 1968 and a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 1995. 

Channing received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie.   Her other films include Paid in Full, The First Traveling Saleslady, Skidoo, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Her TV specials include “Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl,” “Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway” and the White Queen in “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.  Other credits include appearances on “What’s My Line?” “I’ve Got a Secret,” “Password,” “Hollywood Squares”; variety shows, including “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Milton Berle Show,” “Rowen & Martin’s Laugh-In,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Muppet Show,” as well as episodes of “Playhouse 90,” “The Love Boat,” “Magnum P.I.” “The Nanny,” “Touched By an Angel,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Family Guy”. 

Channing made headlines in 2003 when she married her junior high school sweetheart, businessman Harry Kulijian after a 70 year separation.   She also released her best selling memoirs, Just Lucky I Guess and has been touring in her one woman show, The First Eighty Years are the Hardest.   She released a new CD, For Heaven Sake in 2010, included many of the songs she loved as a child, as well as spirituals taught to her by her father. 

Dori Berinstein is a three-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer and an award-winning directed and producer of film and television.   Documentary features directed and produced by Dori include Gotta Dance (2008), which won the Audience Award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival; Some Assembly Required (2007), which won Best Feature Documentary at the International Family Film Festival and ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway (2007), which won Best Feature Documentary from the Florida Film Festival and was one of the International Documentary Association’s Top 5 Films of 2007.  As a Broadway producer, her credits include Legally Blonde (Best Musical Olivier Award), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Best Musical Tony Award), The Crucible, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Best Revival of a Play Tony Award), Fool Moon (Special Tony Award), Flower Drum Song, Enchanted April and Golden Child.   Dori is the recipient of the 2009 Robert Whitehead Award for “outstanding achievement in commercial theatre producing”.   She is currently working with DreamWorks Theatricals and has served as an executive, consultant and/or producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Sony Pictures, MTV, Vestron Pictures and Paramount Pictures. 

In addition to Channing and Kulijian, the film includes interviews with Jerry Herman, Lily Tomlin, Chita Rivera, Barbara Walters, Tommy Tune, Tyne Daly, Debbie Reynolds, Phyllis Diller, Loni Anderson, JoAnne Worley and Bruce Vilanch. 

is written and edited by Adam Zucker.  Director of Photography is Rob Vanalkemade and music is by Craig Sharmat.  The film was co-produced by B. Harlan Boll.   

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It all started when... 

Broadway legend Carol Channing received her honorary doctorate from California State University Stanislaus in 2004. Since then she and her husband Harry Kullijian have been promoting arts in education through this non-profit foundation. ChanningARTS (Arts Returned To Schools) encourages you to become involved in your community and local PTA to return arts education to all public schools.

They're a 501(c)3 organization and are able to receive your tax deductible contributions by check or PayPal. Please donate today!

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. I am now answering a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! 
With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


David Snyder

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Tomorrow's blog will be my exclusive interview with Julie Budd!

To all my Los Angeles friends, Please join me at The Paley Center on January 18th! Hope to see you there!


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com


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