Ben Vereen Awards commissions second piece, honors students

The Ben Vereen Awards has commissioned Bradley J. Behrmann as composer for the 2017 Wellness Through the Arts (WTA) program.  This is the third year of the program and the second commission for Behrmann.  In conjunction with the esteemed musical theatre competition, the WTA (a pet project of Mr. Vereen himself) solicits essays from San Diego area high school students who have faced issues with bullying and obesity.  Five winning essays became the raw material for a new piece of musical theatre.  Members of the J*Company Youth Theatre rehearsed the piece and performed it at the Ben Vereen Awards on May 28, 2017 at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.

“This year, the five essay winners told us stories of their struggles, and the issues they’re wrestling with challenged their very identity,” said Behrmann.  “Each of them, however, found a home in the arts, and through that, they realized they didn’t need to be defined by outside forces.  The theatre helped them find the strength inside.  As I read their essays, the phrase that kept repeating in my head was ‘You are enough.’ That became the main hook of the song.”

Read about the 2016 Ben Vereen Awards here.

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Bradley J. judges 2017 Ben Vereen Awards Wellness Through the Arts Competition

WP_20160606_13_32_08_ProOne facet of the Ben Vereen Awards that deals with the holistic health of high school students is the Wellness Through the Arts (WTA) program.  In conjunction with the esteemed musical theatre competition, the WTA (a pet project of Mr. Vereen himself) solicits essays from area high school students who have faced issues with bullying and obesity.  Five winning essays become the raw material for a new piece of musical theatre.  This year, Behrmann served as judge for the essay competition.

At the 2016 Ben Vereen Awards, members of the J*Company Youth Theatre performed the original piece “I Am,” composed by Behrmann with lyrics adapted by Jamie Gilchrist.  The following excerpt is from the performance on May 29, 2016 at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.

See original article on the Wellness Through the Arts commission here.

Composition honors students’ struggles, victories as part of Ben Vereen Awards

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One facet of the Ben Vereen Awards that deals with the holistic health of high school students is the Wellness Through the Arts (WTA) program.  In conjunction with the esteemed musical theatre competition, the WTA (a pet project of Mr. Vereen himself) solicits essays from area high school students who have faced issues with bullying and obesity.  Five winning essays became the raw material for a new piece of musical theatre, composed by Bradley J. Behrmann with lyrics adapted by Jamie Gilchrist and Behrmann.
Members of the J*Company Youth Theatre rehearsed the piece (entitled “I Am”), received coaching from Mr. Vereen, and performed the piece at the Ben Vereen Awards on May 29, 2016 at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.

“Each of the five essay winners showed great resilience in the face of adversity, and so the piece attempts to capture that spirit,” said Behrmann.  “The words of the essays read like a manifesto, and so the lyrics, especially in the main themes, reflect that strength.  And the piano is violently joyful during those sections.  We crafted five vignettes to feature each of the five winners.  Melodically, this is where we expressed the tone of each of the essayists, from tender to humorous to downright heartbreaking.”

James Herbert of the San Diego Union-Tribune called the piece “stirring.”  Read more about the 2016 Ben Vereen Awards here.WP_20160606_13_32_08_Pro