• September 19, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

The magic of the music of ‘Sesame Street’

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:30 am

While “Sesame Street” has been teaching generations of children their letters and numbers with skits and colorful characters, the often understated tools have been the music and songs.

And with the late Jim Henson demanding nothing but the best — and with 50 years of material — how could one possibly choose when forced to select only the most classic songs for a “Sesame Street” musical retrospective?

Craig Shemin, curator of the “Jim Henson’s World” series at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, has taken up the task as MoMI continues its celebration of the 50th anniversary of Henson’s most influential achievement with “Sing: The Music of Sesame Street” on Aug. 18.

The event will feature clips of some of the most famous “Sesame Street” songs and some live performances, along with a panel discussion featuring “Sesame Street” veterans including composer Christopher Cerf, vocalist Ivy Austin and vocal music director Paul Rudolph.

Shemin, in a telephone interview with the Chronicle, declined to go into just which songs from a half century will make the cut — “That’s going to be a surprise,” he said — though he said even from the beginning, early classics like Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie,” “I Love Trash” by Oscar the Grouch and “C is for Cookie” by, well, you know who, were never intended to be silly or simply children’s songs.

He said even the title song for the event, “Sing,” written by the late Grammy-winning and Academy Award-nominated composer Joe Raposo, showed the devotion of Henson and the creators in the “Sesame Street” universe to perfecting their craft at every level, be it puppetry, music or anything else.

“Joe Raposo wrote ‘Sing’ for ‘Sesame Street’ and The Carpenters recorded it,” he said. “He wrote ‘It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green’ for Kermit the Frog and Frank Sinatra recorded it. This was good music.”

Shemin, who interned with and eventually worked for Henson, is president of The Jim Henson Legacy, an organization founded in 1992 by Henson’s widow, Jane, dedicated to preserving Henson’s contributions and creative vision.

Shemin said the panel discussion that will take place along with the clips and musical performances might not be to the particular taste of very young children, but he did say there would be something for “Sesame Street” fans of every era and all ages.

‘Sing: The Music ofSesame Street’
When: Sun., Aug. 18, 2 p.m.
Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria
Tickets: $15; $11 seniors, students; $9 kids 3-17. (718) 777-6800,

Welcome to the discussion.