Thomas Z. Shepard
Thomas Z. Shepard is a prolific record producer who is best known for his recordings of Broadway musicals, including the works of Stephen Sondheim. Shepard is also a composer, conductor, music arranger and pianist.
He has won twelve Grammy Awards and produced the original cast recordings of many of the Sondheim musicals, including Sweeney Todd, Company and Sunday in the Park with George, among others. He also produced the original cast recordings of 1776, La Cage aux Folles and 42nd Street, among over a hundred others. He has produced hundreds of classical music and popular music recordings.
Shepard attended The Juilliard School's preparatory division, training in piano and composition, leaving after his third year, in 1949. He then attended Oberlin College, again studying piano and, privately, composition, receiving his B.A., Music, in 1958. He then continued his studies in 1959 at the Yale Graduate School of Music.
Beginning in 1960, Shepard worked for fourteen years for Columbia Records, eventually becoming co-director of CBS Masterworks. He joined RCA Records in 1974, where he was Division Vice President of RCA Red Seal, responsible for recording, signing and marketing of the label, until 1986. He was then Vice President: Classical and Theatrical until 1989 for MCA Records in New York, where he created their classical and theatrical record line. Shepard then became an independent producer, wrote, narrated and produced The WQXR/MCA Classics Listener's Guide (1988; music appreciation recordings) and has lectured on musical theatre and classical music.
Shepard has produced numerous classical and Broadway cast albums, winning 12 Grammy Awards, including four with songs by Stephen Sondheim. In 1984, he received the NARAS Governors' Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 1986, he won a Drama Desk Special Award "for preserving musical theater heritage on record." Shepard received two Emmy Award nominations for songs he composed for the PBS television show Between the Lions (2007). He has also produced live concert events, most recently My Fair Lady in 2007, and Camelot in 2008, with the New York Philharmonic, broadcast on PBS as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series. Shepard has arranged music and conducted for Anna Moffo, Richard Kiley, the Norman Luboff Choir and Richard Tucker, among others. He performed as a pianist at various concert venues, and his recording of classical piano pieces and improvisations, "Love on a Stormy Weekend", was released by Planet Earth Recording Co. in 1998.
Shepard is the composer of five musicals and five operas, among other pieces. The operas include That Pig of a Molette (1988) and A Question of Faith (1990), both with libretti by Sheldon Harnick, which were presented as a double-bill under the title Love in Two Countries at St. Peter's Church Theatre, in New York City, by Musical Theater Works in 1991; and a score for the lost music of Thespis (2008), which has been called "a love letter to [Gilbert and Sullivan] and ... might be better than the original". In 1971, he composed the motion picture score for Such Good Friends, directed by Otto Preminger, and in 1974, he wrote a children's cantata, In the Night Kitchen, with words by Maurice Sendak. He also composed the piano folio Folk a la Classique for Carl Fischer Music (2003; original compositions for children) and was the composer and lyricist for children's educational material for the Carnegie Hall Explorers Division, The Children’s Symphony (2004, intended to teach the instruments of the orchestra to second-and third-grade schoolchildren) and for the PBS television show Between the Lions (2007).
Selected list of recordings produced
Shepard has produced numerous musical theatre, classical and opera albums, including the following. (G) indicates a Grammy Award winner.
- Harold Arlen and Barbra Streisand – Harold Sings Arlen (1966);
- Leontyne Price – God Bless America (1982);
- Barbara Cook – The Disney Album (1988);
- The Boston Pops – Music of the Night (1990);
- Betty Buckley – An Evening at Carnegie Hall (1996); and
- Julie Andrews – Classic Julie (2001).
In addition, Shepard contributed to the early 1970s "switched-on" cycle of synthesized electronic classical albums, with Everything You Always Wanted to Hear on the Moog* (*but were afraid to ask for), in collaboration with Andrew Kazdin (1973). In the 1990s, he also produced several albums for Sony Classical, with conductor John Williams and The Boston Pops, including The Star Wars Trilogy (Skywalker Orchestra); The Spielberg-Williams Collaboration; I Love a Parade; Kismet, starring Samuel Ramey, Jerry Hadley, Dom DeLuise, Ruth Ann Swenson and Julia Migenes; and The Green Album, among others.
- "Thomas Z. Shepard". Masterworks on Broadway, accessed October 25, 2010
- Thomas Z. Shepard at the SondheimGuide, accessed February 9, 2011
- Bio of Shepard at BroadwayWorld.com
- Shepard's Drama Desk Award
- Stempleski, Susan. Review of Camelot (classicalsource.com)
- Wishing You a Merry Christmas, with Moffo and Tucker, CBS SBR 235161
- e.g., Richard Tucker, The Soul of Italy, tracks 13-24, Sony Classical (1999), CD SMK 66309; and Hatikvah! Richard Tucker sings great Jewish Favorites, with the Norman Luboff Choir, Columbia (1969), cat. no. MS 7217
- PE-CD-2418. See "Tom (Thomas Z.) Shepard", Planet Earth Recording Co., accessed October 25, 2010
- The musicals are When Time Stands Still, with a libretto by Tony Musante, produced at Oberlin College in 1957; Haircut, with writers Larry Sigman and Danny Silverstein, based on a Ring Lardner short story (Oberlin 1958); The Snow Queen (1963, after Hans Christian Andersen; Richard Tucker recorded the opening song, "When You're Young") and Blaming it on You (1970; Joan Morris and Bill Bolcom recorded one of the songs, "Sweet Mary Go to the Movies"), both with a libretto by Charles Burr and yet to be produced; and The Horse's Mouth (1960s, based on the novel by Joyce Cary, lyrics by Shepard, no book written). His first opera was The Last of the Just, with a libretto by Gerald Walker, based on the novel by Andre Schwarz-Bart (1980)
- Simon, John. "Theatre: The Belle of Kenya", New York Magazine, April 15, 1991, pp. 66–67
- Koven, Vance R. "G&S’s Thespis Grown New by GaSLOCoLI", The Boston Musical Intelligencer, July 9, 2014. Shepard's score was first performed in concert in June 2008 by the Blue Hill Troupe in New York City. See Jones, Kenneth. "Thespis, Lost G&S Operetta, Gets New Score by Thomas Z. Shepard", Playbill, 28 May 2008; and Filichia, Peter. "G&S&S", TheaterMania, June 9, 2008. It received a fully staged production in June–July 2014 by the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island. See Parks, Steve. "Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company marks 60th anniversary", Newsday, June 19, 2014.
- Information about Shepard's contributions to Between the Lions
- Hetrick, Adam. "Library of Congress Adds Original Sweeney Todd Cast Album to National Recording Registry", Playbill, April 2, 2014
- See North, James H. New York Philharmonic: The Authorized Recordings, 1917–2005, 2006, pp. 142–255, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-5854-1 and Thomas Z. Shepard at the Sondheim Guide
- Everything You Always Wanted to Hear on the Moog, CBS cat. no. 73146
- Kismet – A Musical Arabian Night, Sony Classical (1991) ASIN: B00138JCT8
- See, e.g., Sony Classical: Great Performances, 1903-1998 Sony Music 65819 (1999), at Allmusic, accessed February 9, 2011
- Official website
- IMDB entry for Shepard
- Theatremania 2001 interview with Shepard
- 1984 interview with Shepard discussing his process for producing Sunday in the Park with George
- List of Shepard albums at CastAlbums.org
- Between the Lions: Monkey Pop-Up Theater - "Bo Peep"
- Between the Lions: Monkey Pop-Up Theater - "Ted said 'Sven Send...'"
- 1971 Billboard article about Shepard