“Have you ever seen P.D.Q. Bach and Professor Schickele in the same room at the same time?” is a question that is often asked at press conferences, slumber parties and think tanks. It is, of course, a silly question. I mean, really silly, since the latter putative person was born more than a century after the former died, but it deserves an answer, equally silly, and the closest you’ll ever come to being able to answer that question in the affirmative is a pair of concerts featuring the music of both the Professor and his discoveree, at the same time and under the same roof. You be the judge! You be the jury! We’ll supply the suspects!
And who could be more suspect than Oedipus Tex, that tragic, cathartic varmint whose likeness appeared on “WANTED—DEAD OR ASLEEP” posters in post offices all over the West during the period leading up to the Pelopponesian Wars. P.D.Q. Bach’s great oratorio gets to the very heart of this heartless, though curiously charismatic, character, illuminating as it does his unfortunate relationship with his mother and the equally Freudian offing of his father. Oedipus Tex will be served up complete with four soloists and chorus—the whole enchilada!
The first half of the program will feature miscellaneous shots from the Schickele canon, ranging from rounds, songs and settings of Beatles numbers to the notorious Songs From Shakespeare, in which the Bard meets Doo-Wop and more than holds his own. These infamous songs have had an extraordinary effect upon the culture of our country: within a month after they were featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, the number of American college students majoring in English literature had fallen 20%. How many works of art can boast of such an immediate (and deep!) impact?
When it comes to great encounters, Peter Schickele Meets P.D.Q. Bach is right up there with General Grant meets General Lee, Stanley meets Livingston, and Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein. And, instead of difficult-to-reach Appomattox or Africa, the scene of this meeting is convenient Avery Fisher Hall, crown jewel in the diaphanous tiara that is Lincoln Center.
Direct from a cross country tour (a very cross country, by the time the tour was over) Peter Schickele Meets P.D.Q. Bach finally comes to New York City, with the good Professor aided and abetted by Michèle Eaton, off-coloratura, Ory Brown, mezzanine soprano, David Düsing, schlemielentenor, and Maestro “Kenneth the Menneth” Jean, mercilessly wielding the baton over the New York Pick-Up Ensemble.
Here’s the complete program.