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We Are The Music Makers

Whether it’s an elementary school opening night or the longest-running Broadway blockbuster, a Tony Award-winner or a train wreck, anyone who’s attempted to produce a musical knows how complex and sometimes messy the process can be. Joseph Church ’78 knows better than most.    

His breadth of experience—from a Swarthmore student production of West Side Story in Clothier Hall to the original production of The Lion King on Broadway—makes him the perfect authority to pen Music Direction for the Stage: A View from the Podium (Oxford University Press), a comprehensive, generous primer that inspired me from start to finish.

Reading Church’s work feels like settling in for a long, intimate conversation about the lessons he’s learned, the disasters he’s survived, and the triumphant premieres he’s led. 

Perhaps the most precious passages are those in which Church delves into the realities of a musician’s life. I have never seen our varied, unpredictable work so thoroughly described. Both musicians and music lovers will be grateful that Church has given us such a vivid picture of the romance—and reality—of musical living.

This book need not only appeal to musicians. While much of it is about putting on a show, Church’s passion, work ethic, and broad liberal arts mentality will inspire anyone interested in the arts.

Whether you’re involved in musical theater, or just appreciate what it takes to bring it to life, Church has much to offer, including setting professional and personal standards we all would do well to model.

After all, according to Church, a music director must be humble, proficient, and collaborative—rare traits to find in equal measure in almost anyone, let alone those of us who fancy ourselves conductors!

—Andrew Hauze ’04 is a lecturer in the department of music and dance.