Archived Story

Hum along down memory lane

Published 12:02am Thursday, May 3, 2012

In honor of our last days in Tampa this winter we went to a concert by the Florida Orchestra. Stop! I know what you ar e saying — “Ugh! Classical music.” Well, that’s not really the case, and it is tied to history, so stick with me to the end.
Because of the subject matter, this is going to be a two-part series, so if you are not interested in this column now then you won’t be interested in the next one to follow.
The Florida Orchestra has more than 75 musicians and a very talented director, Stuart Malina. He is so talented he has degrees from Harvard and Yale and has conducted the Indianapolis and Detroit symphonies. He is also a renowned concert pianist.
Of course, symphonic orchestras play classical music, but for this night’s performance, it was the “Great American Songbook” night.
What is the “American Songbook?” The songs in the hypothetical songbook are the best American tunes from the 20th century from Broadway theater, musical theater and Hollywood musicals from 1920-1960.
Composers and songwriters most often mentioned are Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Harry Warren, Duke Ellington and Jimmy Van Heusen. The list is arbitrary and each musical expert has a different list.
Maestro Malina picked three composers to showcase in his tribute to the “American Songbook.” The first was George Gershwin, who is most famous for composing  “Rhapsody in Blue.” But Malina chose not to use that song in his tribute.
He started the concert at the piano and then was joined by his brother Joel and Hilary Kole as the vocalists who sang most of the tunes and became a trio when the three of them joined.
“ Our Love is Here to Stay,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Summertime,” “Embraceable You,” “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and of course, “Rhapsody in Blue,” were some of the songs he is most well-known for.
He also wrote the opera “Porgy and Bess” and the classical piece, “An American in Paris.” Unfortunately, George Gershwin died of a brain tumor at age 38.
The second composer featured was Harold Arlen. This name may not be so familiar but his music you may know. He wrote “Get Happy,” Let’s Fall in Love” and “ Stormy Weather.” He wrote the music for “The Wizard of Oz,”  “Blues in the Night,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “My Blue Heaven,” “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”
The “Great American Songbook” contains toe-tapping and singable tunes. More about the concert and the composers next week.
Go back and look at the title of the tunes and I bet you can sing at least one of these songs.

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