Once, I had a small conversation with a very tall man (trust me, Gary and myself are tall) during a gala event for the Arizona Opera. We had met before, and it was brief, as it always is when you are in a cocktail party setting.
Maestro Craig Bohmler and his husband were as courteous as always. While I knew who he was, I never imagined the breadth of work that he had composed and written. I knew of one of his accomplishments, due to the wonderful support and passion for the opera from Billie Jo and Judd Herberger, who were Executive Producers of the premiere of “Riders of the Purple Sage” at Arizona Opera in 2017 – for which Craig composed the score..
You see, I was abroad for that original premiere, so I missed seeing the spectacular sets by Ed Mell and hearing the stirring score by Craig, with libretto by Steven Mark Kohn, and based on the legendary Zane Grey novel, but I did hear the incredible reviews online and from most every news outlet in Arizona and across the nation. We were finally able to see a matinee of the second production on March 9th, and days later, the world went into stay-at-home orders and we all know the rest of that story.
So, after hearing his amazing score, I had to ask him to sit with me on Oscar Talks – Oscar Talk, and chat about his particular piece of history of Arizona, including his process of composing what has become an Arizona Opera classic. Also, I had to have the chance to find out the next steps for this beautifully-scored opera – which is also the subject of a documentary for the creation of the opera, “Riders of the Purple Sage”, produced by Kristin Atwell Ford. This documentary is now traveling in a national tour and being screened in many movie festivals across the U.S. – with rave reviews. She will be with us in the show later this month.
The one hour went by, oh, so fast!
In doing research on his incredible production, I also found out that Maestro Bohmler has a voluminous portfolio of plays and musical compositions. Just to start, he has written and composed four operas, 12 musicals and a whopping 200 songs! I was amazed by the portfolio and depth of production.
Not only that, but I was fascinated by the quality and the variety of subjects.
As he told me;
” I am a storyteller and I use music to tell the story.”– Craig Bohmler – during the rehearsal for Oscar Talks – Oscar Talk
One of my favorite musicals (and I have not seen it yet) is called 3 Redneck Tenors!, I just can imagine the laughs he had writing the story of these three very different characters.
In the world of arts and more so, in the world of music, a musical maestro is influenced very much by the people with which they work, and those who become their mentors. In this case, Maestro Bohmler was the apprentice and the pupil of one of our biggest stars of performance, theater, musical and overall arts in U.S.
American Opera Composer Carlisle Floyd was his mentor, who was also known as the “Father of American Opera”
Now knowing Craig’s incredible body of work, I had to ask about his inspiration, and how he decides to weave the story, as well as the whole process of production. Gun Metal Blues, another one of Craig’s productions, dated from 1994, has a fascinating and intricate plot and a funny “Hat Changing Story” that makes a character change personalities by simply changing hats.
Here is a description of the musical Gun Metal Blues musical:
“Is this a hard-boiled detective tale disguised as a lounge act – or the other way around? Direct from The Red Eye Lounge, Buddy Toupee tickles the ivories and serves up plot concoctions like a Chandleresque Greek chorus. The private eye searches for a missing blonde through a double-dealing world of smoky bars, rain-slicked streets, and more blondes. This quest lures the audience to an unnamed city of mystery, music, and demolished dreams.”
Plus, we had some surprise guests!
Kristin Atwell Ford stopped by to give us some news on the documentary and share some of here experience working with Craig.
Also, Joe Specter from Arizona Opera, stopped by with his entire family for a quick hello. Sneak peek: one of Joe’s daughters is scheduled to be part of an upcoming musical with the maestro. We cannot wait!
But I don’t want to give away too much about my time with this talented and inspiring talent, so, I invite you to listen and enjoy my conversation with Maestro Craig Bohmler:
Always in Style,