In this year's Drama Desk Nominations announcement, which took place Friday morning, April 27, the Board decided to eliminate the category of Orchestrations. Many orchestrators and composers, immediately took to social media to express their disappointment and outrage about the elimination of the category.
Now, a change.org petition has launched to bring the category back, with 1545 signatures at press time including well known industry members like Lin-Manuel Miranda, George Stiles, Larry Hochman, Alex Lacamoire, Lea Salonga, Larry Blank, Ann Harada, Marc Shaiman, Stephen Oremus, Kate Shindle, Jerry Mitchell, Patti Murin, Liz Caplan, Ted Sperling, Rob Sher, Adam Pascal among many other artists, musicians and fans.
Below, a video also making the rounds features John McDaniel demonstrating at the Tony Awards a simple example of an unorchestrated and orchestrated tune.
The petition's mission statement is "For years the Drama Desk recognized orchestration while the Tonys did not - until 1997 this was the only award that recognized our work. The Drama Desk was also the first to have awards for sound design. As you have been in the forefront of recognizing creative contributions, we fail to see the logic in your now continuing to honor design elements like sound and lights but not our musical efforts.
Orchestration is a creative element that stays with the identity of a show for many years after the original physical design (sets, costumes, lights) are no longer used. Not to diminish the work of the composers of musicals in any way, the orchestrations for their scores remain part of the score's identity for posterity.
Simply put, without the orchestrations a musical is not a musical. For the Drama Desks to blatantly ignore the contributions of orchestrators is to stop recognizing one of the most important elements of the industry you're claiming to represent.
We hope that you will reconsider and rectify this omission and restore the integrity that we have known the Drama Desk to have in past years."
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