With music going in all directions these days, I found it challenging and fun at the same time, in arranging some beautiful music that has been performed and recorded by the young Josh Groban. Immediately following the release of my solo piano transcriptions of “The Best of David Foster” for PianoDisc in June, “The Best of Josh Groban” is scheduled for release in September for the PianoDisc player piano system. My description of the project appears below the track list:

Canto alla vita
Hymn A L’ amore
You Raise Me Up
Let Me Fall
Home to Stay
Alla Luce del Sole
You’re Still You
Un Amore Per Sempre
Gira con me
Cinema Paradiso
To Where You Are
Mi Mancherai
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
The Prayer

“I was first introduced to the magical vocal talent of Josh Groban during an episode of the television series “Ally McBeal.” As I listened to him, I was immediately moved by his natural warmth and the earthy sound he produced. Since then, I’ve watched his career with interest and delight. But it was during my visits to David Foster’s home and studio in 2004, while preparing my PianoDisc recording project, “The Best of David Foster” (PD/CD 2013), that I was inspired to delve into his music. Josh was, of course, Mr. Foster’s protégé and their collaboration made him a star.

So I bought the sheet music for his first CD and began exploring how I could recreate the songs for solo piano. As with the Foster project, the biggest challenge was making the piano sound as full as a symphony orchestra. Each song required a different approach. When I first read the music of ‘Gira con Me’, for example, my instincts propelled me to make a Chopin ‘Barcarolle’ out of the accompaniment for this grand Puccini-like aria. For ‘You’re Still You’ and others, the richness that Brahms and Rachmaninoff achieved in their piano pieces inspired me. In ‘Canto Alla Vita’, I echoed Beethoven’s ‘Pathetique’ Sonata and created a three-hand effect. For David Foster’s arrangement of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ I utilized three lines to reflect the vocal and organ parts. In ‘The Prayer’, another Foster gem, co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, I played the vocal duet alongside the orchestral material. ‘Home to Stay’, co-composed by Amy Foster-Skylark and my dear friend, Jeremy Lubbock, is a tender song with heartwarming harmonies. From the second CD songbook, I added three songs, including Jeremy Lubbock’s arrangement of ‘Mi mancherai’ and the song that is perhaps Josh’s best known, ‘You Raise Me Up.’

As I studied and played this music, I was filled with admiration for the amazing young artist who sings it. In a time when melody has all but disappeared from the scene, Josh Groban keeps it alive. On behalf of audiences today and for years to come, let me just say”¦Thank you, Josh.”

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