Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and The LA Phil Celebrate Gershwin
Airs Friday, January 6 at 8 p.m. on WTVP-HD.
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
– “An American in Paris,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” and Hancock’s
improvisation on a Gershwin standard fill the bill –
Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel and Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock
launched the LA Phil’s 2011/12 season with a sparkling George Gershwin gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall in September
2011. “This is the first time as a professional musician that I’ll be playing a piece that’s essentially classical
music with jazz overtones with a symphony orchestra, and what a symphony orchestra it is!” marvels Hancock just
before the concert, referring to his keyboard work in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected
public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming
to the New York community.
Since his early teens, Gershwin had been enamored with the music he heard uptown in Harlem, quickly
becoming the center of the jazz universe. His first attempt at a serious composition, the mini-opera Blue Monday, a story
about characters in a Harlem nightclub was a flop and received only one performance.
Upon seeing the opera, band leader Paul Whiteman was enthused enough to commission Gershwin to write a
concert piece in the jazz idiom for a program of American music, and Gershwin, was emboldened to take it on. As he later
explained, “I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America – of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national
pep, of our metropolitan madness.”
Rhapsody was introduced on February 12, 1924, with the composer as soloist in Ferde Grofé’s
orchestration for jazz band. The piece made an indelible mark on the history of American music, on the fraternity of serious
composers and performers – many of whom were present at the premiere – and on Gershwin himself, for its enthusiastic reception
encouraged him to other and more serious projects.
It was a trip to Paris that inspired Gershwin to work in earnest on a recent commission he had received from the
New York Philharmonic, one that would capture in music the tumult of Paris’ streets with their distinctive taxi horns, and create
a concert work that didn’t center on the piano.
Back in New York, Gershwin finished An American in Paris, which he subtitled “A Tone Poem for Orchestra.”
In an interview in the August 18, 1928 edition of Musical America, he said of the work: “this new piece, really a
rhapsodic ballet, is the most modern music I have ever attempted.” He also gave a brief “program note” of the work:
An American in Paris was wildly successful with audiences – and Hollywood – and established Gershwin as an
original voice in concert halls worldwide, a voice that resonates to this day.
"Someone to Watch Over Me" was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin for the musical Oh, Kay!
(1926), where it was introduced by British star Gertrude Lawrence. It has been performed by numerous artists in both popular
and jazz versions.
After the LA Phil’s opening night gala, The Los Angeles Times noted admiringly, “The L.A. Philharmonic is
noted for its flexibility, and the solo riffs were jazzy, authentic and unself-conscious, all of which is a real rarity in the
Concurrently serving as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (his third season), the Gothenburg Symphony
Orchestra, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Dudamel’s musical leadership spans three continents.
Beyond the forty-three weeks of his yearly schedule, he also guest conducts with a few of the world’s greatest
orchestras each season. This season he returns to the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic, along with the Orchestre
Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris and the Israel Philharmonic. He also returns to La Scala, where he regularly conducts,
for a performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2.
Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and
genres. His illustrious career has spanned five decades and 14 Grammys, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni
Hancock also maintains a thriving career outside the performing stage and recording studio. Recently named by
the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair for Jazz, he currently also serves as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk
Institute of Jazz, and he’s a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace. Hancock was made a UNESCO Goodwill
Ambassador in July of 2011.
In 2010, Hancock released the critically-acclaimed, multiple Grammy-winning CD, Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine
Project. Utilizing the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility, the
‘Imagine’ project features a stellar group of musicians.
is funded by The National Endowment for the Arts, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Vivian Milstein, Jody and John
Arnhold, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, the Philip and
Janice Levin Foundation, public television viewers, and PBS.
Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil Celebrate Gershwin is directed by Enrique Sanchez
Lansch. Producer: Bernhard Fleischer. Producer for WDR/ARTE: Lothar Mattner. For Great Performances, John Walker is
producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Visit Great Performances Online at
www.pbs.org/gperf for additional
information about this and other programs.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming
to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of
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to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news
and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking
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content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through
SundayArts, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under the vibrant leadership of Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, presents an inspiring
array of music from all genres – orchestral, chamber and Baroque music, organ and celebrity recitals, new music, jazz, world music
and pop – at two of L.A.’s iconic venues, Walt Disney Concert Hall (www.laphil.com ) and the
Hollywood Bowl (www.hollywoodbowl.com). The LA Phil’s season at Walt Disney Concert
Hall extends from October through May, and throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. With the preeminent Los Angeles Philharmonic
at the foundation of its offerings, the LA Phil aims to enrich and transform lives through music, with a robust mix of artistic,
education and community programs.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or email@example.com