Cook Companion Harper Dies in New York, Age 62Date: 11 October 2004
One of the most successful and long-standing partnerships in American showbusiness, Cook and Harper – an accomplished pianist, arranger, composer and musical director - have been working together over three decades, creating cabaret and concert shows that showcase Cook’s vocal talents and Broadway pedigree.
Their latest show, Barbara Cook’s Broadway - in which Cook was, as per usual, accompanied on stage by Harper at the piano – played London twice this year. Though the show’s original three-week season at the Gielgud Theatre was cut in half because of the 76-year-old singer’s ill health, Cook, with Harper, returned to the West End last month to kick off the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Singular Sensations six-week season of music and cabaret, which concludes this Saturday (See News, 20 Jul 2004).
Prior to Barbara Cook’s Broadway, the pair were most recently seen in London with the 2001 Olivier-nominated show Mostly Sondheim as well as earlier cabaret seasons at the Donmar Warehouse and the Albery Theatre and a 70th birthday concert for Cook at the Royal Albert Hall.
In addition to performing with Cook, Harper produced and arranged many of her albums including It's Better with a Band, The Disney Album, Close as Pages in a Book and Barbara Cook: Live From London. In 1996, he conducted the BBC Orchestra and Cook in a concert version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King And I. Sony recently re-released the pair’s CD, Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the collaboration of Cook and Harper.
A graduate of the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School of Music, Harper worked as musical director, composer, dance arranger, conductor and musical supervisor for many Broadway productions, including Company, Irene, Peter Pan, The Grand Tour, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Brigadoon, Nine, My One and Only, Grand Hotel and The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public. He composed the scores for two musicals, 2001’s Say Yes and Off-Broadway’s Sensations, several songs for Irene, as well as the dance music for the film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Harper produced the original cast recordings of A Day in Hollywood, My One and Only and the Pointer Sisters' revival of Ain't Misbehavin', and conducted orchestras including the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Melbourne Symphony and the BBC Symphony. He also performed at the White House for four different administrations and served as guest lecturer for the Juilliard School and the Broadway Musical Theatre Project.
- by Terri Paddock