On October 18, we celebrate the 85th birthday of the great Barbara Cook. This week's Live from Carnegie Hall features the recording of Cook's 1975 solo debut at the Hall.
Artist: Barbara CookAlbum: Barbara Cook at Carnegie HallLabel: SonyDate Recorded: January 26, 1975Fun Fact: Barbara Cook's first performance at Carnegie Hall was on February 13, 1961, in a concert that included the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
Barbara Cook had been a star for many years by the time she made her Carnegie Hall solo debut—captured on this recording—in January 1975. After her Broadway debut in 1951, Cook quickly established herself with a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1951), and even more so with The Music Man (1957) and She Loves Me (1963). In 1974, she began a creative partnership with Wally Harper—a musical arranger, accompanist, composer, dance arranger, and conductor—which led to a significant shift in her career from musical theater to the concert stage. Her appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1975—her first concert performance anywhere—turned out to be the launch of a very successful second phase of her career that continues through today.
The album kicks off with a loud and sustained ovation, welcoming Cook to the concert stage, followed by her invitation to "Sing a Song With Me," after which she laughingly exclaimed, "You know, I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be. I think I'm gonna have fun!" She and the audience continued to have fun throughout the evening with favorites from The Music Man, Carousel, She Loves Me, and Mack and Mabel, among others.
Barbara Cook has gone on to perform many more concerts at Carnegie Hall, two more of which were released as live recordings (which will appear in this series later in the year). Her most recent performance at the Hall was during our 120th anniversary season as part of A Gala Celebrating 120 Years of Carnegie Hall on April 12, 2011. She sang three songs—"Nashville Nightingale" and "Here's to Life," in addition to "Not While I'm Around" with the host for the evening, the legendary James Taylor.
We are excited to welcome Barbara Cook back for her 85th birthday celebration on October 18!
Barbara Cook performs "Sing a Song With Me" and "My White Knight" from The Music Man.
Related:October 18, Barbara Cook: 85th Birthday ConcertLive from Carnegie Hall SeriesHistory of the Hall