Roven was a tireless promoter of music across all genres, including for his beloved friend Florence Henderson, as well as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Julie Andrews, Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Leon Fleisher, Kenny G., Whitney Houston, Dick Hyman, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Kermit the Frog, Patti LaBelle, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, TRAIN and others.
His collection of three-dozen song cycles and art songs are performed all around in the world, including concerts by Daniel Okulitch, who would devote a half-program to his music and Mark Stone who performed an all-Roven set at Carnegie Hall. He loved translating great works into English and wrote a version of Schubert's Winterreise for David Adam Moore and had his English version of Mahler's Kindertodenlieder performed by Christopher Herbert. Randal Turner made his West Coast recital debut singing Roven's "Four Melancholy Songs, Opus 16, No. 1" based on poetry by William Butler Yeats. The list is endless, which is a testament to his prolific abilities.
Daniel Okulitch recorded "Stop all the Clocks" from Roven's "Songs From the Underground," based on Auden's famous poem in 2011. However, Roven could never perform the piece again after his partner Robin died as he got too emotional. You can listen to Okulitch and Roven perform it HERE.
When we met with Roven in New York in 2015, he was about to premiere Songs That Make Grown Men Cry, Opus 41, based on texts from a collection of poetry edited by Anthony Holden and Ben Holden. The concert featured barihunks Jonathan Hare, Kenneth Kellogg and Jarrett Ott along with the NY New Music Collective and tenors Andrew Fuchs, Glen Seven Allen and Myles Mykkanen and a choral quartet. He would tear up whenever talking about the text.
Speaking of text, Roven had an undying love and devotion to poetry, and produced "Poetic License: 100 Poems/100 Performers," which became the best selling poetry album of all time. The album included readings by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Patti LuPone, Jason Alexander, Cynthia Nixon, Florence Henderson, Christine Baranski, Brent Barrett, Barry Humphries, Daniel Okulitch, Tyne Daly, Doug Carpenter and Glenn Seven Allen.
After the election of Donald Trump, the composer needed a way to channel is anger, so he wrote The Hillary Speeches, based on the announcement of her candidacy on January 7, 2007, and her presidential concession speech on November 9, 2017. The concert was streamed from the National Sawdust and included performances by David Adam Moore, Kyle Ketelsen, Nathan Gunn, Sidney Outlaw, Daniel Sumegi, Lester Lynch, Andrew Garland, Michael Kelly, Isabel Leonard, Patricia Racette, Lawrence Brownlee, Matthew Polenzani, Carin Gilfy, Laquita Mitchell, Glenn Seven Allen, Dominic Armstrong, Jonathan Blalock and others.
Roven also tirelessly devoted his time to penning music for charitable causes, including "An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope," a recording that raised funds for amfAR and featured Joyce DiDonato, Jamie Barton, Isabel Leonard, Matthew Polenzani, Susanne Phillips Yo-Yo Ma, Ansel Elgort, Sharon Stone and others.
One of our favorite compositions by Roven is a setting of wine tasting notes that was written for bass Aaron Sorensen and performed in California's Sonoma County wine region.
Roven was always busy doing something, and at the time of his death, he was at work on a new movie-musical for Dolly Parton for Netflix, had just completed his "Symphony of Songs," penned a new opera called Addressee Unknown, wrote a new Broadway Musical World War Me, and produced an all-Verdi aria CD for Hui He.
A funeral service will be held Friday, July 27th at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76th Street in New York City at 11 AM, with a memorial tribute being planned for Fall 2018.