Academy Award-winning composers kick off Shen Curriculum’s master class series
Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, co-writers of the songs featured in “Frozen,” “Coco” and “WandaVision,” discussed their careers in the theater and entertainment world in Stoeckel Hall on Friday.
Tobias Liu, Contributing Photographer
Academy Award and Grammy-winning composers and lyricists Bobby Lopez ’97 and Kristen Anderson-Lopez came to Yale on Friday to discuss their careers in the theater and entertainment world.
Best known for co-writing the songs featured in “Frozen,” “Frozen II,” “Coco” and “WandaVision,” the couple won Academy Awards for Best Original Song for “Let It Go” from “Frozen” and “Remember Me” from “Coco,” as well as two Grammy Awards for their work on “Frozen.”
“[Lopez and Anderson-Lopez] talk about the breadth of their education and how it has worked to give them a certain kind of curiosity, discipline and, ultimately in their case, skill,” said professor Dan Egan, the coordinator of the Shen Curriculum and host of the event. “It’s an extraordinary use of the Yale education, and that’s certainly what the [Shen Curriculum] master classes are here to do.”
The discussion was the first master class of this semester’s Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater’s Fridays @ Five, a series of master classes and discussions that bring in guest artists from a cross-section of industry professionals.
The Shen Curriculum is a co-curricular program administered by the Department of Music and cross-listed with Theater and Performance Studies and David Geffen School of Drama. The program offers a range of accredited musical theater courses that examine American musical theater.
“The idea of the Shen Curriculum is to bridge the idea of liberal arts study of musical theater as a cultural entity and the professional world,” Egan said. “Yale is not a vocational school, so the master class series seeks to bring in folks like Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez to be exemplaries of what we can do with this education.”
Lopez, who graduated from Yale College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1997, is one of 17 people who have received the highest honor in entertainment: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, colloquially referred to as an EGOT. He is also known for co-creating “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q.”
For the first half of the program, the couple recounted their entrance into songwriting and talked about their writing and collaborating processes from the front of a classroom in Stoeckel Hall.
The couple then opened the conversation to a question and answer session with the audience, which was followed by a reception, where the Lopez couple talked individually with Yale students.
“I did a presentation on Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez in middle school band — I was obsessed with [“Frozen” and their songs] — so it’s incredible to now have this opportunity to be inspired by them and to see how down to earth they are,” said Ellie Norman ’23.
In the middle of the program, Egan played “For the First Time in Forever” from “Frozen” for the attendees, allowing the couple to analyze their decision-making process behind the song and the story that accompanied it. They described how they analyzed the motivations of each character and used personal experiences to inform their musical decisions.
“It seems like a lot of their process is telling a story that resonates with people emotionally rather than just resonating with people musically or stylistically — as a composer and an arranger, really applying the story and putting motifs with specific emotions is definitely something that I’m going to think about more going forward,” said Joey Cumpian ’25.
Although many of the attendees were students taking classes from the Shen Curriculum, others not part of the Shen Curriculum came to see the “faces behind some of their favorite songs,” as Norman said, and to learn more about the musical theater and songwriting process.
Throughout their discussion, the Lopezes emphasized how important their education and experiences have been in shaping their careers. To Egan, this emphasis demonstrates the importance of the master classes.
The Shen Curriculum will host a performance class on Dec. 2 with Andrea Burns at the ballroom at 220 York Street.