I first saw the name Ken Malucelli when I purchased the CASA christmas songbook in 1993 (all arranged by Ken and Deke Sharon). Years later Ken was one of the judges at the Harmony Sweepstakes competition when a subset of The Richter Scales performed a set of original songs I had written. (We closed with a song entitled “I Hate A Cappella” penned just for that event, which incidentally, consists entirely of a cappella groups. We didn’t win.)
I didn’t actually work with Ken until 2004 when I started singing with his holiday caroling outfit, The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers. That led to a number of interesting side a cappella gigs, including a particularly disastrous Valentines Day serenade that formed the basis for my first solo show, Better Loving Through Chemistry in 2006. Since then we’ve traveled through the far reaches of the western United States together, primarily while presenting Oh Mr Sousa, his musical biography of the March King. I get to play Sousa. (Which is a great excuse for some seriously goofy facial hair!)
Ken is something of an institution in the Bay Area music world, having worked with the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera, Chanticleer, the Lamplighters and dozens of other groups. So I was deeply honored when Ken wrote to me to tell me that my own composition recital in April inspired him to write some new work, a setting of W. S. Gilbert verse for small chamber ensemble. What’s more he dedicated these pieces to me, and composed them specifically with my voice in mind.
Saturday evening we’ll be premiering the first song at the National Association of Composers concert in San Francisco. It’s The Yarn of the Nancy Bell, a grisly sea shanty in the vein of Edward Gorey. It is, as is much of Ken’s work, an absolute hoot. We’ll be at the Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street in San Francisco. 8pm.