Chamber Music on the Hill, in residence at McDaniel College, presents, “By George! By Ira! By Gershwin!,” on Sunday, March 10 at 3:00 p.m. The concert will take place in the Scott Center for the Arts on the Carroll Community College campus.
"By George! By Ira! By Gershwin!" is the brainchild of soprano Carolyn Black-Sotir, who will be featured in the concert, along with Maryland-based artists R. Timothy McReynolds, piano/tenor, Arno Drucker, piano, and Thomas Williams, bass.
As the composer of “Rhapsody in Blue,” “An American in Paris,” and a trove of inimitable popular songs from his scores to musical plays and films -- with lyrics by his brother Ira - Gershwin defined the Jazz Age. But he also transcended his time. That timelessness will be celebrated in a theatrical program of words, music and visuals at this performance.
"There are not many people who don't like Gershwin," Black-Sotir says, "and the story of his life is such an incredible one. I wrote the program 10 years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. It tells his story with a dramatic narrative, but it's not pedantic. The music illustrates what was happening with Gershwin and with music in America at that time. And there are images and audio clips to support the narrative."
Black-Sotir's program, which has been performed previously in the area by the Columbia Orchestra and also in various places in a version with two-piano accompaniment, takes note of how Gershwin left his distinctive mark in several ways before he died in 1937 at age 38. It offers a chance to look at his music in an integrated way, connected to his life and that of his brother.
"We also do some interesting things with well-known songs," Black-Sotir says. "We combine one of his piano preludes with ‘Summertime’ simultaneously, for example, and that's very interesting. Some songs are done in a contemporary style to show how his music can be interpreted in so many different ways. That's one of the reasons it has lasted, and become part of the American songbook." A treasured item from that songbook, "Our Love is Here to Stay," is placed in poignant context during the show.
"The music was written just before George died, and Ira added the lyrics after his brother's death," Black-Sotir notes. "It helped Ira out of his depression. The lyrics are very touching, and the story about how they came to be written is very touching. I've had people tell me they will never listen to that song the same way again."
Carolyn Black-Sotir is a gifted and versatile artist who enjoys one of the most fascinating and diverse careers imaginable. Whether it be as a singer, actress, writer, news journalist, stage director, teacher, or impressario, Carolyn is first and foremost a communicator. A classically trained musician, she is a magna cum laude graduate of Eastman School of Music with Bachelor and Master Music degrees in Vocal Performance. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance with a special concentration in Directing from University of Maryland. Dr. Black-Sotir’s commitment to the arts extends beyond that of her own performances. Currently, she serves as Chair of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences which provides more than three million dollars to arts organizations throughout the Greater Baltimore region. As an educator, she has taught and directed at Towson University and University of Maryland. She maintains a private voice studio and is in demand as a clinician, having conducted numerous master classes and workshops for young singers.
R. Timothy McReynolds, pianist, is in great demand as accompanist and solo performer in both serious and popular music. As a touring artist he has traveled throughout the Mid-West with musician Larry Logan, performed on the East Coast and in Europe with singer Carolyn Black-Sotir, and accompanied the great Metropolitan Opera bass and Broadway star, William Warfield. In a master class setting, he has worked alongside film and Broadway soprano, Marni Nixon, American composer Richard Hundley, and Metropolitan Opera tenor Anastasios Vrenios. He has performed as show pianist in Washington’s Equity theatres and has played for various regional opera companies. A protégé of world-renowned Martin Katz, Mr. McReynolds recently completed his DMA from University of Maryland, where is also teaches accompanying. At Towson University, he serves as Music Director of Music for the Stage.
Arno Drucker, pianist, is a native of Philadelphia, and performed as solo pianist with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 13. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and the Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He was a Fulbright recipient in Austria and studied with Leon Fleisher for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Peabody Conservatory. As the pianist of the American Arts Trio in residence at West Virginia University, he toured Germany, Mexico and the U.S. He has performed as soloist in Germany, Belgium and Holland and with the Baltimore, Washington National, Chautauqua, Augusta, and New Haven symphony orchestras. He is a former member of the graduate faculty of the Peabody Conservatory, and served as Principal Pianist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for over twenty years. His book "American Piano Trios: A Resource Guide" was published by Scarecrow Press in 1999. With his wife, soprano Ruth, he has presented recitals and Master Classes in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Southeast Asia.
Thomas Williams, bassist and arranger, has traveled the globe performing with the legends of the Jazz world. As the bassist for the Airmen of Note, one of the country’s premier jazz ensembles, he has shared the stage with Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Bellson, and Slide Hampton. As a show musician, Mr. Williams has backed such top-name entertainers as Bob Hope, Steve Allen, and The Drifters. His playing, original compositions, and arrangements have been enthusiastically received at some of the most prestigious musical events, such as the Detroit Cool Jazz and The Toronto Jazz Festivals. His music can be heard in many different venues, from the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, to Walt Disney’s Epcot Center, to the nationally broadcast television program, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Mr. Williams, a member of George Washington University’s and Shepherd College’s jazz faculty, conducts workshops on the jazz style, has authored various articles on the basics of jazz bass, and co-authored an instructional video on the function of the rhythm section in the big band.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and military. Children and students with valid ID are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or online via PayPal; please follow the link at www.mcdaniel.edu/cmoth.
Sunday, March 10 at 3:00pm
Carroll Community College, Scott Center for the Arts
1601 Washington Road Westminster, MD 21157
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