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Remarks from SCL President, Dan Foliart’s induction of Maury Yeston as a SCL Ambassador, December 10, 2012 New York City.
When deciding on who should received the inaugural SCL Ambassador Award here in New York, there couldn’t have been more of a consensus in the room. Maury Yeston personifies what the award represents in every way. The breadth of what he does and the range of talents that he brings to the table is immense. Depending on who you ask you might hear, Dr. Yeston, “ you know I studied with him at Yale, he truly inspired me.” Or Maury Yeston, “Nine has to be my favorite musical of all time.” Or you might here, “were you at Carnegie Hall for “December Songs” commissioned for their centennial celebration.” Or, how about that beautiful song that Barbra Streisand sang “Til I Loved You.” Maury’s willingness to give back to the community has been inspirational. He is an author, a revered musicologist, a professor of music, a lyricist, a composer, not only for Broadway, where he has been greatly celebrated, but also for film and concert music as well.
Of course his work in theatre is legendary. As everyone in this room knows, Maury won the Tony Award for Best Score for Titanic, which won a total of five Tonys including Best Musical. He also won a Tony Award and two Drama Desk Awards for his music and lyrics to Broadway’s Nine (based on Fellini’s “8 ½”). That production won five additional Tonys, including Best Musical. The Broadway revival of Nine, starring Antonio Banderas, won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Maury’s contributions to the score for Grand Hotel won him a nomination for a Tony and two Drama Desk Awards, and the London production of this show won the Olivier award. His score for Phantom continues to play throughout the world. The screen adaptation of Nine, was nominated for 10 Golden Globes and 4 Academy Awards including one for Maury, where the SCL celebrated Maury and we met for the first time. We also heard more of Maury’s work on Broadway with his incidental music to the hit revival of The Royal Family, directed by Doug Hughes. Among many other musicals, Death Takes a Holiday and Hans Christian Andersen, are the beneficiary of his talent.
Maury has multiple Grammy nominations, and his work defies any stereo-typical classification. Running the gamut in idioms from his Cello Concerto, premiered by Yo Yo Ma to the album Goya-- A Life In Song, which featured Placido Domingo and Gloria Estefan to the commission he received from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which yielded An American Cantata- 2000 Voices – a choral symphony in three movements for the National Symphony Orchestra and 2000 singers, conducted by Leonard Slatkin and premiered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in July of 2000, Maury is a man for all seasons. He recently composed a full length ballet for the inauguration of the new Kansas City Opera House.
Maury holds a PhD. from Yale University and BA and MA degrees from both Yale and Clare College, Cambridge University. He was Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Music Studies at Yale for eight years, and published two textbooks with Yale University Press. Currently he is Director of the BMI Music Theatre Workshop in New York City and a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild, and on the Board of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Kleban Foundation and The Kurt Weill Foundation. He was named the 1997-1998 Kayden Visiting Artist at Harvard University, and recently received The Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center Creative Arts Award as Artist of The Year, and an Honorary Doctorate from Five Towns College.