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George Gershwin

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Naxos Blog

April 29

Oceania’s Eleven (almost)

Naxos Blog After its extensive navigation of New Zealand, it was Botany Bay in Australia that saw the arrival of James Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour in 1770 on the date of publication for this week’s blog, 29 April. Botany Bay’s postcode is now attached to Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Oceania. Those early years on the continent of Australia and its island neighbour New Zealand would have seen a focus on sheer survival rather than high art, though the foundations of classical music composition there can be traced back to the mid-19th century. Early Australian music leant heavily on European models, and Alfred Hill (1869–1960) was the leading ‘late-Romantic’ Australian-born composer. He studied in Leipzig from 1887 to 1891, meeting composers such as Brahms, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss. His 17 string quartets naturally draw on these influences, but they are beautifully crafted works in their own right, as you can hear in the searching opening of his Eleventh Quartet (8.572844 ). A more recognisable Australian national style began to take shape at the turn of the century, with John Antill (1904–1986) representative of composers who absorbed Aboriginal music into their own idiom. This can be heard in his ballet score Corroboree (8.570241 ), widely recognised as a landmark in Australian music history. Antill drew both on the material he had notated in Botany Bay in 1913 at an Aboriginal Corroboree (a type of ritual ceremony) and on his subsequent research into Aboriginal music. Here’s part of the ballet’s Welcome Ceremony . Peter Sculthorpe (1929–2014) is another leading figure who grew from this generation, and his guitar piece From Kakadu (8.570949 ) is part of a series of works that were inspired by the rugged terrain of the Kakadu National Park in northern Australia. “The work is an intimate one,” Sculthorpe said, “being concerned with the deep contentment that I feel whenever I return to Kakadu.” The influences of popular culture and film music injected tremendous energy into the music of Graeme Koehne (b. 1956). His Elevator Music (8.555847 ) grew from an admiration for the music of John Barry, Henry Mancini and Les Baxter. Koehne was drawn by their interest, during the 1950s, in ‘The Beat’, a feeling for driving rhythm responding to rock’n’roll, as this closing section of the work demonstrates . An emigré from the UK, composer Michael Easton (b. 1954) has lived in Australia since 1982, and his international perspective has led to lighthearted and entertaining works such as the suite An Australian in Paris (8.554368 ) with its friendly wink at Gershwin’s own musical travelogue. Georges Lentz (b. 1965) is another immigrant to Australia from Europe, but it’s hard to imagine a more powerful expression of the bleak vastness of the Australian desert and the awe-inspiring radiance of its night skies than his remarkable work for electric guitar, Ingwe (8.572483 ). Douglas Lilburn (1915–2001) is known as ‘the elder statesman of New Zealand classical music’, and his output was instrumental in establishing a genuinely indigenous musical voice. His Second Symphony (8.555862 ) from 1951 is particularly associated with the landscape of New Zealand, with its verdant and powerful shapes, while Aotearoa (8.557697 ) from 1940 is considered a national classic, its title being the indigenous name for New Zealand and meaning ‘Land of the long white cloud’. Here’s the expansive close to the work . David Farquhar (1928–2007) was a student of Douglas Lilburn and became another leading composer in New Zealand, the introvert qualities of his 1966 Suite (8.572185 ) for guitar portraying just one aspect of his multi-faceted life and work. The piece’s final movement, Epilogue, opens with this reflective dialogue between a bass pattern and treble chords . Lyell Creswell (b. 1944) is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished composers. The beauty and terror in his Piano Concerto (8.573199 ) is explained by its conception as a powerfully expressive memorial to a close friend, Edward Harper. Five of the work’s seven movements were written when his friend was already ill with cancer. Here’s an extract from the sixth movement. Limitations of space bring us to the tenth and final composer in today’s survey of music from this part of the world—New Zealander Jack Body (1944–2015). Body found inspiration for his music in several Eastern cultures, his Palaran: Poems of Love and War (8.573198 ) finding its starting point in Javanese gamelan music. “Among the many subtleties that can be found in Javanese gamelan music,” Body explained, “I have always been struck by the exquisite rhythmic dichotomy between the steady pulse of the main body of instruments and the rhythmically freer layering of singer, suling bamboo flute and rebab fiddle.” Here’s the opening of the work . Australia and New Zealand might seem like physically distant worlds to those of us who have not yet visited them, but music is a global bridge. The vistas of vast oceans may divide continents, true; but not creative minds.

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

May 17

Indy offers $5 concerts

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is rolling out summer lunchtime concerts at $5 a ticket. Sample programme: TITO MUÑOZ, Conductor JON KIMURA PARKER, Piano Bernstein – Three Dance Episodes from On the Town Dvorák – Symphony No. 9 (“New World”), Movement 2 Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue All for $5, Thursdays at Hilbert Circle Theatre. Why wouldn’t you?




Royal Opera House

May 6

10 of the best dance films

Dirty Dancing, The Red Shoes, Fred Astaire, Save the Last Dance, An American in Paris and The Black Swan © Wikipedia Friedrich Nietzsche wisely noted that, 'We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once'. Indeed Nietzsche would surely agree that the following dance films should be viewed by all fans of dancing, at least once. We’ve listed ten of the greatest, stretching back to the roots of the genre with the electric duo Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire , to films that feature iconic choreographers of the last century and the composers whose unforgettable music ensure these films last well into the next. Let us know if we missed your favourite by commenting below or tweet us @royaloperahouse . The Red Shoes (1948) Based loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, young ballerina Vicky is dangerously torn between love and her desire to dance. The 15-minute sequence known as the 'Ballet of the Red Shoes' used a corps de ballet of 53 dancers. The Red Shoes is one of the highest earning British films of all time. Billy Elliot (2000) ‘I've got this fire in my body. I'm just there. Flyin' like a bird. Like electricity,’ says Billy in his audition for The Royal Ballet School . Raised in Country Durham during the collapse of the mining industry, Billy loves to dance. From the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill , this British tale about raw talent is said to be inspired by Royal Ballet dancer Philip Mosley . Read an interview with Philip about the true story behind the film . Save the Last Dance (2001) Julia Stiles is the classically trained ballet dancer who moves to Chicago after a family tragedy to discover hip-hop and love in her new neighbourhood. She also falls in love with a handsome, soon-to-be doctor played by Sean Patrick Thomas . The film went on to earn over $140 million worldwide and its stars were awarded the 'Best Kiss' at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards. An American in Paris (1951) American war veteran Jerry (played by Gene Kelly) is trying to make it as a painter in post-war Paris. Though he is taken under the wing of an influential heiress, he really loves Lise, a beautiful French girl played by Leslie Caron . Set to the unforgettable music of the Gershwin brothers , the final 17-minute dance sequence took a month to film – and cost $500,000. Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet Christopher Wheeldon recently won over Broadway with his stage adaptation of the film. His production makes its West End debut in 2017 . Center Stage (2000) Center Stage follows a year in the life of 12 very different dancers, including a young Zoë Saldana , studying at the American Ballet Academy. Will ballerina Jodie win a place at the prestigious New York City Ballet ? Or will she opt to join rebellious choreographer Nielson Cooper to start a contemporary dance company? Black Swan (2010) Darren Aronofsky won Best Film at the 2011 Oscars and Natalie Portman was crowned Best Actress for her performance as ballerina Nina Sayers, who becomes consumed by duplicitous roles in Tchaikovsky ’s classic Swan Lake . Dirty Dancing (1987) Jennifer Grey has the ‘time of her life’ when she falls in love with instructor Patrick Swayze and discovers dance. The 80’s cult classic features a stellar soundtrack and that unforgettable line, ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’. Replicate that lift with caution. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) David O’Russell ’s film based on the novel by Matthew Quick celebrates the reformative and healing power of dancing, featuring an all-star cast including Bradley Cooper , Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro . Step Up (2006) After breaking into a dance academy, rebel Tyler Gage, played by Channing Tatum , is forced to take part in community service. He soon falls for a ballet student (a role performed by Tatum's real-life future wife Jenna Dewan ) winning her over with his hip-hop dancing. The film created an avalanche of Step Up fans and four sequels since it was released ten years ago. West Side Story (1961) Iconic Romeo and Juliet adaptation West Side Story won an astonishing ten Academy Awards upon its release. The musical was conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins , who is often hailed as the greatest American choreographer of the 20th century. Robbins had a huge influence on the creation of American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and his work is often performed by The Royal Ballet. Shall We Dance (1937) Jazz and classical ballet collide again in what became the seventh of 10 collaborations between iconic dance partners Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers . Choreographer George Balanchine is featured in the classic, his satirical ballet ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ appears at the close of the film. The Royal Ballet perform his work Jewels in April 2017. What's your favourite dance film? Let us know in the comments below.

Royal Opera House

May 3

Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris to open in London’s West End in March 2017

Leanne Cope in An American in Paris © Matthew Murphy Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon ’s Tony Award -winning musical An American in Paris will make its West End debut at the Dominion Theatre in March 2017. The stage adaptation of An American in Paris is based on Oscar-winning film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and features the music of songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin , including hits including 'I got rhythm', ''S Wonderful', and 'They can't take that away from me'. Former First Artist of The Royal Ballet Leanne Cope reprises her role as Lise Dassin for the London production alongside New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Robert Fairchild as Jerry Mulligan. The production had its world premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris before moving to the Palace Theatre on Broadway , where it won four Tony Awards, including Best Choreography . Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School and danced with the Company from 1991–93. Since his retirement from dancing in 2000, he has created several works for The Royal Ballet including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 2011 and the critically-acclaimed The Winter's Tale , which is currently being performed at the Royal Opera House. Wheeldon’s one-act ballet Within the Golden Hour returns in May 2016 in a new mixed programme of works by choreographers closely associated with The Royal Ballet, Obsidian Tear / The Invitation / Within the Golden Hour . The Winter’s Tale runs 12 April–10 June 2016. Tickets are still available. Obsidian Tear / The Invitation / Within the Golden Hour runs 28 May–11 June 2016. Tickets are still available .



George Gershwin
(1898 – 1937)

George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), as well as the opera, Porgy and Bess (1935). He wrote most of his vocal and theatrical works, including more than a dozen Broadway shows, in collaboration with his elder brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin. George Gershwin composed music for both Broadway and the classical concert hall, as well as popular songs that brought his work to an even wider public. His compositions have been used in numerous films and on television, and many became jazz standards recorded in numerous variations. Countless singers and musicians have recorded Gershwin songs.



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