Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing” was ranked #88 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, but in the past decade, the singer and composer has been winning even fancier gold awards for his musical theater scores. This week Sheik’s singing with the San Francisco Symphony-- Wed/7- Sat/10 at Davies Symphony Hall-- and performing the world premiere of the orchestral arrangement of songs from The Whisper House.
The Whisper House is the story of a small boy, Christopher, who looses his father during World War II and must move into a lighthouse with his aunt in New England. The creepy coastal home is haunted and Christopher begins to build a rapport with the spirits. The ghosts sing all the songs during the show, exposing the subconscious secrets of the boy’s frightened mind.
Sheik, along with Kyle Jarrow, wrote the songs for the stage production of The Whisper House and the show premiered at The Old Globe in San Diego in January 2010. The SF Symphony commissioned new orchestration of the Whisper House songs, excited by Sheiks wild success with his score for the Broadway hit Spring Awakening, which won him two Tony Awards in 2007 and a Grammy in 2008.
Songs like “It’s Better To Be Dead” and “We’re Here To Tell You” are great examples of this new collection’s gentle nature; organic, slightly chilling and yet comforting. The songs are indeed perfect for The Whisper House’s stage setting, the soft guitar strums, purring clarinet, and padded drums inspire contrasting thoughts of cozy down blankets and cold, salty winds. The song lyrics inform young Christopher that there are in fact things in the lighthouse, and in the world, that are scary, contrary to what his aunt tells him. Fluid and serene, it’s easy to picture a bunch of ghosts whispering Sheik’s words high above the angry ocean waves, stirring around the lighthouse and taunting the child.
Sheik will be singing along with the Symphony during his string of performances in San Francisco, and although the story will not be told visually, the stage full of instruments will guide your mind in the right direction. Along with Sheik, the evening will also feature other music intended for the stage, including Poulenc's Suite from Les Biches and Claude Vivier's Zipangu.
Duncan Sheik w/ the San Francisco Symphony
$15 to $130
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness, SF