Page 9 - Phil Nov19th concert program book 2021 DIGITAL
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PROGRAM NOTES

      Our program continues with Gershwin’s bluesy and delicate Lullaby — music which almost didn’t
      make it much past its inception.

      Around 1919 or 1920, George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) tried his hand at composing a string quartet
      and called it Lullaby.  It was played at several private events by musical friends and was received
      warmly but never published.  In 1922, Gershwin repurposed the opening theme of his Lullaby and
      used it in an aria for Blue Monday, a one-act opera he was composing.  After that exercise, Gershwin
      never returned to his Lullaby again.

      Fast forward about forty years.  In 1962, Gershwin’s lyricist-brother, Ira, was somehow reminded the
      Lullaby was lying among a number of his brother’s manuscripts.  The music was repurposed again,
      this time under the auspices of Ira Gershwin, by harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler who transcribed it for
      harmonica and string quartet and performed it in 1963.  It wouldn’t be until October 29, 1967, nearly
      a half century after it was composed, that Lullaby was first publicly performed as the string quartet
      George Gershwin had intended. {We perform Lullaby with our full string section, with an added bass
      part crafted by yours truly.}

      In 1968, Ira Gershwin wrote the preface for the printed conductor’s score of this music.  It concludes
      thusly, greatly understating the attractiveness of this music:
          Now Lullaby is published from my brother’s manuscript.  It may not be the Gershwin of Rhapsody
          in Blue, Concerto in F, and his other concert works, but I find it charming and kind.
                                ________________

      Getting us to intermission and The Four Seasons is a lovely set of dances by a very fine composer who,
      not until recently, is finally being appropriately recognized and appreciated.

      William Grant Still (1895 – 1978) was long known as the “Dean of African-American
      Classical Composers.”  A prolific composer of operas, ballets, symphonies, and other works, he was also
      a highly regarded conductor.  He was the first African American to conduct a professional symphony
      orchestra in the US, the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1936 at the Hollywood Bowl.

      Still worked as an orchestrator and arranger for famed bandleaders Paul Whiteman and Artie Shaw
      among others, as well as for blues composer W.C. Handy.  These experiences had a major influence on
      Still’s eclectic musical style as a composer. Other cultural sources also inspired him.

      Based on a collection of Panamanian folk tunes, William Grant Still composed Dances of Panama
      in 1948.  Although there are four movements to this dance suite, each movement contains at least
      two separate dances within it.  These orchestral dances are steeped in distinct Caribbean flair with
      infectious rhythms, gorgeous melodies, and an undeniable zest for life.

      Renewal, indeed!
                                                           — Steven Karidoyanes

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