Ruth and Esther Theater
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Featuring the Creative Works of Dennis L. Dunn
 
 

The Team

Over ten years ago, I woke up with a beat going on in my head     (bump-bump . . . bump-bump).  I got up and started typing and in about 90 minutes I had written "Trouble, Trouble" which is in the opening scene of Ruth.  A few weeks later, it happened again.  I wrote "A Bride Tonight" at 2 or 3 in the morning in 2 hours.  (Oh, if it were always that easy!)

I thought: "Where did that come from?" 

My musical background could be written on a postage stamp. 

But I also thought I had written something special.  

These stories have been building up over many years but they wouldn't have gotten done unless God led me to people who have skills that I don't possess: the ability to arrange,  to harmonize and to listen to my ideas and create beauty. 

Below are the names of many of the musicians who made this possible.   There are also a number of people that are not listed.  They provided the financial, prayer and emotional support to make it happen.   

Note:  Not all of my collaborators have the time to do additional work so I am only listing contact information from those who have indicated I have permission to give it out.  

My Primary Collaborators

 Dennis, John & Kara
(working on Esther)
1.   The Holy Spirit.  OK, let's start with a few givens: I have some severe limitations.  I sing off-key.  I have a number of character flaws I'm not going to mention here (I'm not on Oprah).   I can't play the piano. 
 
     And yet, somehow, these stories and songs have come together.  It's an incredible tribute to God's grace that He can work with flawed people like me. 
 
2.   Kara Leinonen (Ruth/Esther).   Arrangement, encouragement, initial recordings, and sounding board.
 
     Kara has the ability to listen to my off-key singing and figure out what I'm getting at, reproduce the melody on piano, and then create an accompaniment track to go along with it, all within minutes.   I frequently shook my head in wonder.  The day I met her was one of the best of my life. 
 
     Kara has been teaching piano for over 25 years, led choirs, directed over 20 plays, and has produced 5 orginal albums of her own Christian music.
 
3.  John Livingston (Esther, Easter, and some Ruth).  Piano Arranging.  Pianist.
 
     John Livingston is a friend and like a son to me -- I've loved having him involved.  He's hardworking, supportive, and an outstanding musician.   He has won several statewide competitions as a pianist and his extensive knowledge of classical music helped enhance and give power to many of these songs. 
 
     You can listen to some of John's piano playing by going to God Have You Deserted Me? or Satan's Servants (Esther). 
 
     John  is available for arranging music, piano lessons and if you need a concert quality pianist.  He can be reached at jandslivingston@gmail.com.
 
4.  Notable Score Music Transcription (Esther/Easter/Ruth).   Music transciption, arrangment, and orchestration.
 
     The team from Notable Score is gracious, supportive, and professional.  They get work done on time and under budget!  They can listen to just about anything and replicate exactly what you want.  Then they can orchestrate it. 
 
     All have college degrees in music and received A or A+ degrees in subjects dealing with music replication/transcription (they have perfect pitch).  They can be reached at www.notablescore.com or info@notablescore.com.
 
5.   Chris Hansen (Ruth).   Hansen Musical Services, Grand Rapids, MI., www.hansencharts.com.
 
     Approximately 1/2 of the orchestration for Ruth was done by Chris R. Hansen.  His work was uniformly good and often inspired.  His 15+ years of Jazz helped immensely on many of the Jazz/Gospel numbers we did. (Question: What are white boys doing writing Jazz?)  
  
     Chris has a master’s degree in Church Music/Worship Leadership from Western Seminary.   He’s taught drama, worship and music and served as a Pastor of Worship & Arts.  Chris now has a web-site where he sells his orchestration works of Christian music: Hark-up Music.   
 
     Chris can also be hired to compose and arrange music:  chris@hansencharts.com.
 
6.   Tommy Leinonen (Orchestration/Arranging Ruth).
 
     Tommy is an incredibly talented musician.  While my musical background "could be put on a postage stamp", music is stamped into his DNA.   He plays piano, sings (part of the Worship Team at Court Street Christian Church), and plays the cello at concert quality.  He's currently serving God as part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM).  He's been doing arrangment and orchestration work since he was about 10.  And roughly half of orchestration for Ruth was done by him -- almost all before he was 19. 
 
7.  Ky Fifer (recording).   See Below.   If you want your music to sound good, hire Ky (if you can get him).  His recordings dramatically improved the quailty of the recordings you're hearing.  Because he also did several solos, I've included Ky credits below.
 
Songs:
 
     There have been an entire choir of people involved in doing the songs for this program.  I will list only a few of the solists for now:
 
1-2.   Barbara Richardson & Jessie Stanley.   Most of the solos for Ruth or Esther were done by these two ladies.  They both have "get them a record contract" pipes. 
 
     They are professional, easy to work with, hit the notes solidly, and love the material.  When they sing one of Ruth's songs, I'm thinking: "That's what Ruth should sound like.  Impassioned.  Faith-filled.  In love."
 
     Along with being extremely talented musicians they are also salt of the earth, nice people. 
 
     Barbara has a Master's in Music and Jessie has a host of vocal awards and has appeared in several community theater musicals.  Jessie can be contacted at: jessielstanley@yahoo.com.
 
3.   Ky Fifer.   Part of the reason that many of the recordings are so good (other than the quality of the singers), is that Ky suggested I switch from trying to create a choir to using his home studio, where re-takes and mixing could be done easily.  The songs quickly went from amateurish to near-professional quality.  You'll hear his voice as Boaz on many of the vocals (e.g., Might Have Been, Your Love is Sweeter prelude, A Proposition).  
 
     If you've heard that musicians are flaky (and many are), well Ky challenges that stereotype.  He's dependable, musically solid (near perfect), and gets work done when he says he will. 
 
     Ky has been the lead in a large number of regional productions of Broadway musicals (mostly in Portland but also in his home town of Hood River).   Directors love working with him, because he hits his notes, hits his marks and leads by example.  His credits include: The Balladeer in Assassins, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Claude in Hair, Jon in Tick, Tick… Boom!, Sky in Guys and Dolls, Conrad in Bye Bye Birdie, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, and Cousin Kevin in Tommy. 
 
     Ky's Bio:  Ky graduated from Portland State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science and Recording and Music Production certification from the school’s two-year RAMP program.  As a member of the PSU Chamber Choir he recorded an internationally released album (Veljo Tormis On American Shores, available on amazon.com) and toured Europe with PSU’s award winning chamber choir under the direction of Dr. Bruce Brown.   Ky spends his time writing music, scoring film, playing in local bands, participating in virtual bands, recording/singing for hire, and performing in musical theatre productions. 
 
4.   Thomas Slater.   Thomas is a voice actor, as well as a gifted (and trained) singer.  He can hit the note with virtually any accent you need.   You'll hear him as Levi on many of the recordings.  I'm so glad that we got him, because getting people who can do New York Jewish accents (on a budget) in Portland and Salem is about as easy as getting a Kosher ham (well, maybe not quite that hard, but pretty close).  
 
5.   Bradford McKeown.  Like Ky, Bradford has been the lead in just about any Broadway type musical that's worth doing.  He's an incredibly nice guy, who is wonderfully easy to work with.   His tone and vocal quality is first rate.  He's performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theater on Broadway (part of a choir).  He's also done a gig singing with Celebrity Cruises. 
 
     You'll hear him as Boaz on the full version of Your Love is Sweeter (Ky & Barbara are on the prelude) and it's a tribute to his voice that even though he's recording on my $35 Radio Shack mic, the song still sounds beautiful.
 
     Bradford is available to perform at weddings, memorial services, or other live engagements.  If you'd like to contact him, please e-mail Dennis and he'll forward Branford's contact information to you.
 
6.  Mandy Cook.  Most of our recording was done with 3-10 (or 15) takes (the people above averaged about 3-4).  Mandy did Every Choice I Lose on 1 take.  She's got marvelous pipes and a gift.  It was as if that song was written for her.  (She helped on other songs, but she made Every Choice I Lose her own.)
 
Jan Powell
7.  Jan Powell.  Jan is the singing voice of Naomi for Trouble, Trouble, I Will Never Leave You, A Bride Tonight!, and He's the One.   Jan's been a professional actress/ director/artistic director for over 25 years.  It shows.
 
     The two hours I spent working with Jan gave me a taste for what it would be like if this ever takes off.  To work with people of her caliber is a songwriter's dream.   Want to try a note that's in the upper registers?   No problem.  Just tell her to take it up a 3rd -- or an octave.  It's there -- for as long as you want it.   Every note solid; every decrescendo perfect.  Ask for a bit of inflection.  It's there.   Check out I Will Never Leave You.  I said: "It should start with her speaking and then becomes lyrical . . ."  Perfect on the first take.
 
     Jan's professional career has included work as a freelance director with over 20 different theater companies, artistic director, and providing individual instruction to actors and singers.  She did her PhD dissertation on theatrical editing of Shakespearean texts and much of her career has focused on Shakespeare’s works. She has directed the entire canon of Shakespeare histories.