Encompass' Gala Honoring

A Musical Salute! Encompass New Opera Theatre's 2011 Gala honoring Marving Hamlisch - Mr. Hamlisch with Encompass Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Daniel J. De Siena

November 20, 2011
The National Arts Club, New York City

August 11, 2012

We are saddened beyond words at the unexpected passing of the legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch. Last November, one week before Thanksgiving, Encompass New Opera Theatre had the very special privilege of paying tribute to Mr. Hamlisch with  "A Musical Salute", honoring and celebrating his magnificent life devoted to music.

So many friends, fans, and colleagues came that evening to sing for him and share their personal thoughts in thanks for all that he had given them throughout the years -- Lucie Arnaz, Klea Blackhurst, Craig Carnelia, Judith Clurman and her choir Essential Voices, USA, Brian d'Arcy James, Kevin Earley, Beth Ertz, Sheldon Harnick, Emma Hunton, Capathia Jenkins, Michael A. Kerker, Baayork Lee, Melissa Manchester, John Miller, Donald Pippin, Richard Pittsinger, Christopher Preston Thompson, Harriet Slaughter, Mara Waldman, Karen Ziemba, David Zippel, and the Encompass Board of Trustees, Daniel De Siena, Chairman, and members Barbara Bliss, Etty & Joseph Bousso, Jane Clegg, Barbara Eubanks, and Bettye Martin Musham.

But it was Marvin himself who stole our hearts and graced us with his wisdom that evening, as he encouraged us to "always follow our hearts in everything that we do." He inspired us with his humility and generosity when he shared with us that the one thing that really matters in music-making and life "is the friendships we make and the joy of working together."

He brought tears of laughter as he joyously filled the room with his magnificent humor and spirit, as he recounted humorous stories from his life. We will always remember him going to the piano and playing the overture to "A Chorus Line," and it sounded amazingly like a symphony orchestra.

Marvin touched our hearts that night with his grace and his generosity of spirit. He gave the world his gift of music which will live and soar forever.

Nancy Rhodes, Artistic Director
Encompass New Opera Theatre


Marvin Hamlisch plays piano at Encompass' Gala honoring Mr. Hamlisch - November 20, 2011The Gala honoring Marvin Hamlisch was through the roof! The entire evening was a huge celebration! The talent were amazing and each performer sang Marvin's songs with passion, beauty and joy!  From Melissa Manchester singing "Through the Eyes of Love," to Emma Hunton singing his song, "Disneyland," Brian d’Arcy James performing “I Cannot Hear the City” from Marvin’s musical, “Sweet Smell of Success,” and Craig Carnelia and Brian performing a delightful duet from “Imaginary Friends,” to Lucie Arnaz singing a medley of  “Always and I Still Believe in Love, to a wonderful twenty-voice choir with solo treble singer, Richard Pittsinger, performing Marvin’s and lyricist David Zippel’s “Anatomy of Peace,” conducted by Judith Clurman with her group Essential Voices, USA, to Kevin Earley singing “Ordinary Miracles,” Klea Blackhurst singing “What I did for Love,” Karen Ziemba performing “The Music and the Mirror” and Capathia Jenkins closing out the program with a beautiful rendition of the award-winning  Hamlisch song, “The Way We Were.”

Encompass Emeritus Board member Harriet Slaughter was our host for the evening. We were Marvin Hamlisch acceptance speech, A Musical Salute! Gala honoring Marvin Hamlisch - Encompass New Opera Theatre, Brooklyn, New Yorkgraced with recollections about Marvin from lyricist Sheldon Harnick, Donald Pippin (original music director/conductor of “A Chorus Line), and Baayork Lee (original dancer, and now choreographer for “A Chorus Line”). Encompass dedicated a song entitled “You are my Guiding Star” to Marvin Hamlisch, from our new opera, “The Theory of Everything,” sung by tenor Christopher Preston Thompson, with music by John David Earnest, words by Nancy Rhodes, and played by pianist Mara Waldman. Beth Ertz was the amazing Music Director/Pianist for the entire evening along with John Miller on acoustic and electric bass.

The great surprise of the evening was Marvin Hamlisch's acceptance speech, filled with humble and delightful witty thoughts and theatre stories about the making of "A Chorus Line" and his work as a composer over the years. He encouraged us to always follow our hearts in everything we do; that the most important thing he has learned through all his years of music-making, is that friendships and the joy of working together are the most important aspects of all. 

Nancy Rhodes, Lucie Arnaz, Sheldon Harnick, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Ziemba, Daniel J. De Siena at A Musical Salute! Encompass New Opera Theatre's 2011 Gala honoring Marvin Hamlisch - New York, NYAfter he received his Award from Encompass New Opera Theatre for Lifetime Achievements in Music, he went to the piano, and with all the performers gathered around him, he played the overture to "A Chorus Line." It was a breathtaking moment in theatre history, because the overture had never been played during the actual performances of "A Chorus Line," so we were lucky enough to hear the composer himself perform it that night. And let me say, that rarely have I heard the piano sound so magnificent, truly it was as if there were an entire orchestra in the room! And, in honor of Encompass’ friend and Gala Chairman, Sheldon Harnick, who has everyone knows is the great lyricist of  "Fiddler on the Roof," Marvin wove the music into a beautiful rendition of "Sunrise, Sunset," and everyone sang along.  

Our audiences were thrilled and we celebrated and partied together with Mr. Hamlisch with an array of delicious desserts and champagne. We were excited to greet four wonderful friends who came all the way from Scotland, England, to be part of the festivities, and the two gentlemen even wore their kilts for the occasion! Altogether there were well over 150 people present at the National Arts Club where we held the event on Gramercy Park South. Many thanks to Dianne Bernhard, President of the Club for all her support and to the outstanding Executive Chef Joe Frappaolo and his staff who make our gala each year such a success.

What an honor to celebrate composer Marvin Hamlisch, truly a giant of American Music in every way. We are grateful to our Board of Trustees---Daniel J. De Siena, Chairman, and Board members Barbara Bliss, Jane Clegg, Barbara Eubanks, Bettye Martin Musham, and Lester Wigler; and Board Committee members Etty and Jacob Bousso, and to our patrons and supporters whose attendance at the gala makes it possible for Encompass New Opera Theatre to discover, develop and produce the work of America's newest composers and lyricists. Thank you all!

View more photos from the Gala here!
Photos by Ben Gabbe Photography
Contact Ben Gabbe to order prints.


Encompass New Opera Theatre

Nancy Rhodes
Mara Waldman
Sheldon Harnick
Maury Yeston
Daniel J. De Siena
Harriet Slaughter
Barbara Bliss ~ Etty & Jacob Busso
Bettye Martin Muscham ~ Jane Clegg
Barbara Eubanks ~ Lester Wigler
Emanuel Azenberg, Producer
Alan & Marilyn Bergman
Mitchell Bloomberg, International Lights
Bertrande Coleman, SVP, Prudential, Douglas Elliman
Michael Feinstein
Bernard Gersten, Lincoln Center Theater
Michael A. Kerker, American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
Victoria Moran, Sloan-Kettering
David Zippel