In memoriam
Michael Friedman
1975-2017

On September 10, 2017, we received the devastating news that our beloved friend and erstwhile composer-in-residence Michael Friedman had passed away the previous day at the tender age of forty-one.

Here in Hong Kong, we had been preparing to welcome him back to Spring Workshop this October as part of our final gesture called A Collective Present. This would have been Michael’s fourth visit to Hong Kong because each time he came, everyone he encountered here wanted him to stay. So we invited him back, over and over, cherishing his exceptional presence. We knew that he was a “miracle of a human being,” adoringly described thus by the Public Theater’s Oskar Eustis:

Michael Friedman was one of the most brilliant, multi-talented theater artists of our time. He was also a miracle of a human being: loving, kind, generous, hilarious, thrilling. His loss leaves a hole in the theater world that cannot be filled, and a hole in the hearts of those who loved him that will last forever.

During his first residency at Spring’s inception in 2012, Michael depicted our Hong Kong landscape in an extraordinary song cycle characterized by unvarnished truth, outsider insights and jocularity. The second volume of songs he planned to write in October, with a working title of “Adventures in Reality, Part 2: The Five-Year Plan” would have been performed at the end of his residency as a closing bookend to Spring Workshop’s five years in action.

Though we will never get to hear the songs Michael planned to write about Hong Kong next month, we can go back to the ones he wrote and performed at Spring on his first visit and revel there in his singular talent and point of view:

* 32 Things I’ve Heard in Hong Kong (October 27, 2012)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUaSsf0Ff-0

* The Market (October 27, 2012)
https://vimeo.com/53580904

We hope the clips above bring an enormous smile to your face and light to your heart, as they did to ours.

Thank you for sharing your brilliant spirit with us, Michael. We’ll miss you. So very, very much.

*

P.S. The New York Times‘ and New Yorker‘s detailed pieces from this week on Michael can be found here (NYT) and here (Sarah Larson writing for the New Yorker).

P.P.S. If you haven’t heard Michael’s songs about the 2016 US election for the New Yorker Radio Hour, sit back and marvel here: The State of the Union Songbook – www.wnyc.org/series/state-union-songbook.

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