A special concert, tribute to George Gershwin

By Antonio Lozoya

Who was George Gershwin?  George Gershwin, was without a doubt one of the most famous composers, whose music has been performed in the most diverse situations, versions and scenarios… from concert halls classics to jazz clubs, from the theaters of Broadway to Hollywood. In the early ‘20s, Paul Whiteman, a conductor of the swing era, popularized his famous Rhapsody in Blue, the starting point of his compositions, followed by other hits such as An American in Paris, or the opera Porgy and Bess.

Tribute to George Gershwin
Fri, Aug 23, 7pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
150/100 pesos

Many of his compositions have been used on television and in numerous films, and many became jazz standards. Gershwin was influenced very much by French composers of the early 20th century. Maurice Ravel was quite impressed with Gershwin’s abilities, commenting, “Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin’s works and I find them intriguing.” The orchestrations in Gershwin’s symphonic works often seem similar to those of Ravel; likewise, Ravel’s two piano concertos evince an influence of Gershwin. Aside from the French influence, Gershwin was intrigued by the works of Alban Berg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, and Arnold Schoenberg. He also asked Schoenberg for composition lessons. Schoenberg refused, saying “I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you’re such a good Gershwin already.” (This quote is similar to one credited to Maurice Ravel during Gershwin’s 1928 visit to France–“Why be a second-rate Ravel, when you are a first-rate Gershwin?”)

The composer, who was said to write six songs a day to get the bad ones out of his system, died at the age of 38 in 1937 after a prolific career that saw him pen some 800 songs. Many of his works played an integral part in classic Hollywood. In 2007, the Library of Congress named their Prize for Popular Song after George and Ira Gershwin. Recognizing the profound and positive effect of popular music on culture, the prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.

George Gershwin is widely known for his numerous songs and compositions, with lyrics by his brother Ira Gershwin, most having become part of the cultural heritage of humanity. Among them are the noteworthy “Summertime,” “Love Is Here to Stay,” “I Got Rhythm,” —  some of the songs to be performed by a new jazz voice in Mexico, Julia Vari. She began to sing, play the piano, and star in musical theater productions as a small child, and studied voice, music theory and composition at the renowned Eastman School of Music, as well as New York University and Universidad Panamericana de Guadalajara. She has also had the opportunity to participate in concerts and special events in Barcelona, Spain, US (most recently in the Harlem Jazz Club), France, Romania, Italy and Colombia. Julia has just returned from an extraordinary tour throughout Europe. The rhythm section will be Papacho Sirdey on the piano, Antonio Lozoya on the bass and Victor Monterrubio on drums.

This concert is presented as part of the Extraordinary Concerts XIX International Festival of Jazz and Blues in San Miguel de Allende, which will be held from November 13 to 17. We invite you to visit our website www.sanmigueljazz.com.mx. It is noteworthy that the Festival is recognized as the longest running of its kind in the country and looks like one of the most important in Latin America. We hope to see you there to keep us proud of what our town can generate in terms of jazz culture. Do not miss the opportunity to celebrate together this sensational “Tribute to George Gershwin” this Friday, August 23, at 7pm at the Teatro Ángela Peralta. Ticket sales at the theater box office: 150/100 pesos. See you there!

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