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Adam Guettel's (b. 1965) musical The Light in the Piazza is a current hit on Broadway, having won six Tony awards, including Best Score, and the original cast album has already been released on Nonesuch. But Bowl audiences had the first chance to hear Guettel's passionate music, when John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra premiered The Light in the Piazza: Three Songs for Orchestra in 1999, composed for them while Guettel (b. 1965) was still working on the musical.

Guettel wrote the music and lyrics for The Light in the Piazza, with a book by Craig Lucas adapting Elizabeth Spencer's famous novella (which was made into a film in 1962, starring Olivia de Havilland, Yvette Mimieux, and George Hamilton). The story deals with an American woman and her daughter vacationing in Italy in 1953. The daughter, Clara, meets a handsome young Florentine man, Fabrizio, and the three main characters explore issues of love and hope in a poignant romance.

The orchestral suite, scored by Jonathan Tunick, develops early versions of some of the themes from the musical. From the shimmering light cast by harp, celesta, and chiming percussion, a gentle tune first heard in the musical's overture emerges in the cellos. The center of the suite is the waltzing "Passeggiata," a scene in the musical where Clara and Fabrizio stroll arm-in-arm through the streets of Florence. The suite closes in a spirit of reflective wonder, with the last notes in the chimes.

- John Henken is the Philharmonic's Director of Publications.