New York — Marvin Hamlisch went out in a most deserved way – with a ‘sold out’ house – as a most appreciative and heartbroken group of family, fans, including myself – and colleagues, packed the same synagogue – Temple Emanu-El — where 67 years ago the life of another great composer – George Gershwin — who also died too young – was also celebrated. It was so fitting for this composer whose songs, like Gershwin’s, will also live on forever – to have his life also celebrated in this same holy and sacred sanctuary.
This celebration of Marvin Hamlisch’s was filled with funny rememberances by his best friend of almost 5 decades, his Rabbi, who stated that his friend had a “Lev Tov” – a good heart, a CEO of a large corporation, married philanthropists, and President William Jefferson Clinton who thanked Marvin for all his efforts in raising money for his foundation, and reminded the ‘house’ that Marvin Hamlisch was a ‘hilarious genius.’
And there was a choir that his wife of 26 years Terre told the audience had grown from only a few singers to dozens of colleagues – performers, composers, lyricists – admirers all – including lyricist Sheldon Harnick and actress Lucy Arnaz, who starred in Marvin’s They’re Playing Our Song and countless others – too many to name – whose voices lifted to the top of Temple Emanu-El – with their spine-tingling and emotional renditions of “The Way We Were” and ‘What I Did for Love.” And Idina Menzel sang a gorgeous rendition of ‘At the Ballet’ as the choir and ‘audience’ joined in. These are three songs that will live on until the end of eternity as will his other countless ‘hits,’ including “Nobody Does it Better” and ‘The Entertainer.” The Hamlisch Songbook is sure to inspire generations yet to come. — Excerpts from August 15, 2012 by Joel Markowitz — DC Metro ‑The Arts