Winter 2016

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Photo by Morgan Marcell.

Ian Weinberger: Hamilton’s Music Man

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It was Sept. 27, 2015, and Ian Weinberger was about to conduct Hamilton on Broadway for the first time. But he had never conducted the show before. “For two months, I’d been conducting imaginary performances of Hamilton in my living room,” says Weinberger ’09, then a rehearsal pianist for the show. “That’s all I had in terms of practice.” At 45 minutes to curtain, Weinberger’s boss, music director Alex Lacamoire, told him there was a famous person in the audience — Michelle Obama. Weinberger said he “died a thousand deaths” between that moment and the beginning of the show, especially during the two minutes of pitch-black silence as the Secret Service escorted the first lady to her seat. The show went off without a hitch. Weinberger, who credits his “melting pot of experiences” at Northwestern for his success, is now the associate music director of Hamilton. He plays the keyboard in the orchestra most nights and conducts the show a few times per week. He still feels blessed and surprised by Hamilton’s success, having watched it transition from “this little musical on Lafayette Street” into the hottest thing on Broadway. In September, Weinberger did an arrangement of the Hamilton opening number for the Northwestern Marching Band, which was performed during halftime of the Wildcats' 24-13 win over Duke. "I played three years in NUMB," Weinberger says, "and so it was quite a 'worlds colliding' moment for me! I was really honored to do it and it was a lot of fun to put together." (For more on Weinberger, see “Drum Major: Ian Weinberger,” summer 2009.)