With performances from two of his musicals, Here Lies Love's music director J. Oconer Navarro dropped by the Playbill Songwriter Series to shed some light on his newest projects and the dreams they deliver. Presented by Audible Theater, the series is dedicated to spotlighting emerging composers and features a new video every month.
First is the song "Surge" from Breathe, his pandemic-era musical, honoring Filipino health care workers which features lyrics by A. Rey Pamatmat and music by Navarro. In it, in order to make it through the horrors of the pandemic, two nurses fantasize about the trips they will take when it is over—one to Paris, one home, to the Philippines.
Next is "Discernment" from Death of the Pastores, Navarro's current project, co-written with Laura Dadap , which is inspired by a concept by Filipino folk guitarist Michael Dadap. In a prayer to the Virgin Mary, a young Filipino girl discovers her own path in faith, saying "yes" to the unknown.
Vocal performances are by Jaygee Macapugay, Gabbie Ballesteros, and Bella Villanueva. In addition to Navarro on the piano, the performers were accompanied by percussionist Justin Ramos, violinist Adrianna Mateo, and violist Jay Julio.
Navarro is an award-winning writer, educator, and musician based in NYC. In addition to his work at Here Lies Love on Broadway, he serves as head of Music and Vocal Performance at the New Studio on Broadway at NYU Tisch Drama. He is the recipient of the American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant.
His additional credits include The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie, ART, the Kennedy Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, Playwrights Horizons, the Public, the original Off-Broadway production of Adding Machine, and the recent Broadway Revival of Caroline, or Change for the Roundabout Theatre Company. Additionally, he is Composer-in-Residence at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle NYC, where his liturgical music has gained a worldwide audience, and will soon to be published by GIA.
Audible Theater is a proud sponsor of Playbill’s Songwriter Series. Audible Theater makes outstanding performances and powerful storytelling available to millions of people all over the world. As part of this initiative, Audible has produced Girls & Boys with Carey Mulligan, The Half-Life of Marie Curie with Kate Mulgrew, Harry Clarke starring Billy Crudup, and many others at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City. Audible was also a co-producer for the Broadway transfer of the Tony Award-nominated Latin History for Morons, written by and starring John Leguizamo; and for the Tony Award-nominated Sea Wall/A Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. Since June 2017, Audible has commissioned 40 playwrights to receive support from its $5 million Emerging Playwrights Fund dedicated to developing innovative English-language works from around the globe and keeping with Audible’s core commitment to elevating listening experiences through powerful performances and extraordinary vocal storytelling.
Sing for Hope harnesses the power of the arts to create a better world. Our creative programs bring hope, healing, and connection to millions of people in hospitals, schools, care facilities, refugee camps, transit hubs, and community spaces worldwide. A non-profit organization founded in New York City in response to the events of 9/11, Sing for Hope partners with hundreds of community-based organizations, mobilizes thousands of artists in creative service, and produces artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos across the US and around the world. The official Cultural Partner of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Sing for Hope champions art for all because we believe the arts have an unmatched capacity to uplift, unite, and heal. Learn more at SingForHope.org.