Ever wondered how Beethoven’s music would sound if lyrics were added? Well, you can hear one man’s take on the celebrated composer’s 5th Symphony (and a lot more) this Friday as part of the Newport Music Festival.

Richard Perlmutter Brings Beethoven’s Wig to Newport Friday
Richard Perlmutter Brings Beethoven’s Wig to Newport Friday

Beethoven’s Wig is a unique show created by Richard Perlmutter, a composer and pianist who came up with the idea of putting Beethoven’s music to words. He’s bringing a special family show to the Newport Music Series this Friday July 14 at the Chateau-sur-Mer.

Perlmutter came up with the idea in 2002, while listening to the familiar four note introduction to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.

“I always liked writing lyrics and the phrase ‘Beethoven’s wig/Is very big’ just popped into my head,” Perlmutter noted in an interview with WhatsUpNewp. “The words seemed to resonate, the wig being a symbol of classical music.”

In 2002, he released Sing-Along-Symphonies, an album that went to the top of the charts – in both the classical and children’s categories. Grammy nominations, Parents Choice Awards and coverage on NPR and major newspapers followed.

“It was a big hit 15 years ago and it has gone through several different iterations. We started with four opera singers and a full orchestra. In 2011, we worked with Smiley Guy Studios and developed a series of cartoon shorts which are now part of the show.” It’s now a feature-length multimedia stage show in which Perlmutter performs alongside a colorful cast of cartoon characters.

“The show is really accessible for children and families,” noted Perlmutter. It’s also popular among music educators and has been brought to school audiences. It’s not just Beethoven either – “There are a lot of different composers represented – all the big ones. Kids love it, and adults like it just as much as kids.”

It’s his first time performing at the Festival, and for Pearlmutter, who attended RISD and studied Jazz composition, Friday will be a special show. “Newport’s a really cool place. I’m excited to be able to play at the mansions and one of the nation’s highly regarded music festivals.”

Tickets are only $10 for the 4PM show at Chateau Sur Mer – Details of the family friendly concert here. Get a preview of the concert on the Beethoven’s Wig website here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music for What'sUpNewp, SO RI, Folk Radio UK and more. He's also a DJ Tuesday night 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.