Orchestra Opens Concert Season with ‘Rhapsody in Blue’


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 27, 2010 — The Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra will open its 2010-2011 concert season Oct. 12 with an all-George Gershwin program, featuring his famous composition, ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus.  This concert will present special guest artist, Jack Gibbons, internationally acclaimed pianist, as the soloist in “Rhapsody in Blue.” Gibbons will also join the orchestra in Gershwin’s eloquent “Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra.”

The concert will open with the infectious melodies of Gershwin’s “Crazy for You Overture,” from the popular Broadway musical of that name.  This musical is a pastiche of some of Gershwin’s most memorable tunes, and the overture presents several of these tunes (“I Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You”) in a brief, rousing orchestral overture.  The orchestra will then perform Gershwin’s “Lullaby.”  Originally written for string quartet, this work is often performed by string orchestras.  It has all the hallmarks of Gershwin’s style: lovely melodies, jazzy rhythms, and jazz-inspired harmonies, all presented in a gentle, classically balanced work for strings. 

The orchestra will then be joined by Gibbons for a performance of the first movement of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F Major.”  The Concerto was the direct result of Gershwin’s success with “Rhapsody in Blue.”  Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony, commissioned the concerto, which (like its immediate predecessor, the “Rhapsody in Blue”) is a very effective amalgamation of jazz and virtuoso piano writing within the vibrant and colorful context of the full symphony orchestra.

On the second half of the concert, the orchestra will perform selections from Gershwin’s remarkable “American folk opera,” “Porgy and Bess.”  Written from 1934–1935 (near the end of Gershwin’s all-too-short life), this opera contains such memorable melodies as “It Ain’t Necessarily So” as well as the unforgettable “Summertime.”  The concert will conclude with one of the great works for orchestra and piano, Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Gershwin composed this work for bandleader Paul Whiteman in 1924, for Whiteman’s “Experiment in Modern Music,”  designed to fuse classical music and jazz.  “Rhapsody in Blue” was a hugely successful result of this experiment, and has become an iconic, ever-popular concert hall composition.

Gibbons, guest pianist, has been described by the press as “one of England’s most exciting young pianists.” His performances have been received with standing ovations in some of the world’s greatest concert halls, including New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and London’s Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert Halls, and his recordings have consistently attracted rave reviews, awards and commendations. In 1994, Gibbons gave his New York and Washington, D.C., debuts to tremendous acclaim, and the following year he made his debut at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing the work with which he has become so closely associated – George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” the BBC hailing him as “THE Gershwin pianist of our time.”Since then Jack Gibbons has performed frequently in New York, his most recent all-Gershwin recitals at New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall being greeted with standing ovations from packed halls. Gibbons tours regularly around the world (having performed in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Holland, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Africa and Australia) and performs frequently with major orchestras from the United Kingdom and United States, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé, English Northern Philharmonia and the New Jersey Symphony.All of the works to be performed on this concert illustrate the marvelous richness, variety and appeal of Gershwin’s music: the jazz-inspired harmonies, infectious rhythms and syncopations, and the incredible wealth of musical tunes and melodies. Above all, his music reflects America: the bustling energy, the poignancy of the blues and jazz tunes, and the rhythms of the dance-hall. 


Tickets may be purchased at the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by calling (573) 651-2265.  Tickets also may be purchased at any MetroTix outlet, online at MetroTix.com, keyword “Rhapsody,” or by calling toll-free: (800) 293-5949.