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Posts Tagged Gershwin

Jane Strauss: A Photographer’s Reflections on Gershwin and His Times

On display in conjunction with Park Square Theatre’s production of The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer are the works of Minneapolis photographer Jane Strauss, a self-described “attorney-in-remission” and a “Lapsed Thespian and Techie.” She was last involved with Park Square Theatre at its original location as stage manager for Picnic–way back in the 1970s!–but has found her way back to Park Square to grace our gallery walls.

Here is just a glimpse of Strauss’ exhibit. Be sure to visit the gallery to see it ALL in our Proscenium lobby when you come to see the show!

Jane Strauss with two of the photographs in her exhibit at Park Square Theatre (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Jane Strauss with two of the photographs in her exhibit at Park Square Theatre
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

In Jane’s words:
I’ve loved Gershwin’s works since I was a kid. The opportunity to curate an exhibit coordinated with Soul of Gershwin came as an unexpected delight.

Gershwin’s time ran from Tin Pan Alley into the Jazz Age, and his influences ranged from his immigrant Jewish roots to rural blues, liberally seasoned with urban rhythms and hustle-bustle. Fortunately, my past works included a series from Israel, one from Lithuania, including some Jewish sites, one from Chicago, focused on the Elevated Train, many classic automobiles, and rural scenes from multiple states and countries.

The major issue was choosing images for a small gallery.

Herewith – reflections on Gershwin and his times.

Vilna Shul Photograph by Jane Strauss

Vilna Shul
Photograph by Jane Strauss

 

 

More photographs by Jane Strauss may be viewed at her December show “Lithuania — doors, windows, vistas” at Urban Forage, 3016 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, and online at www.janesprints.imagekind.com, Jane’s Prints at www.cafepress.com and Jane’s Prints at www.facebook.com.

Wintertime (Sung to the Tune of Gershwin’s “Summertime”)

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Maud Hixson, Geoffrey Jones and Maggie Burton

Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

 

Wintertime,
And Park Square is a hoppin’
Gershwin’s playin’
On the Proscenium

Your calendar’s
Got a spot in December
So rush music lover
Don’t miss out

One of these mornings
You’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll keep it up
As you take a shower

‘Cause last night you heard
Snappy music at our show
With family and friends sittin’ by

Wintertime,
And Park Square is a hoppin’
Gershwin’s playin’
On the Proscenium

Your calendar’s
Got a spot in December
So rush music lover
Don’t miss out

George Gershwin had composed “Summertime” in 1934 for his opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward. “Summertime” became a jazz standard and is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. Here is a link to the actual lyrics and a performance of the song:

http://www.letssingit.com/george-gershwin-feat.-helen-merrill-lyrics-summertime-hct6q2r

Come hear “Summertime” and other popular Gershwin melodies performed by a talented cast, accompanied by a live band, in The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer on Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage from December 2 to 31.

 

In Search of the Next Gershwin

In 2007, world renowned violinist Joshua Bell set up shop in a Washington

Fiddler in the Subway

That’s Joshua Bell on the far left.

DC subway station and played. A video of it went viral. It was part of a social experiment for an article in the Washington Post to see if people could, or would, recognize artistic excellence in their midst. As you might imagine, few people even acknowledged him.

Banksy New YorkIn the fall of 2013, British street artist Banksy set up a stall in New York’s Central Park, selling signed prints of his work for $60 under a sign that read “Spray Art.” Some of the pieces sold there are estimated to be worth over $170,000.

What if you later found out that the violinist you heard peripherally along your commute, or the stall of spray art you disregarded as knock-offs was actually a world famous performer playing a multi-million dollar Stradivari violin, or one of the most elusively famed street artists in the world? Would you think you missed out? Would you regret not stopping even for a moment? Would you feel cheated out of the experience because of the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding their art?

Buskers, or street performers, are still common in cities and tourist areas around the US, and like the Klezmers of Gershwin’s roots, we, as audience members, place a monetary value on their performance; we toss some change, maybe a dollar or two into their hat, or cup, or instrument case. American capitalism would remind us that the market dictates the value we place on things like art, and I’m sure you could apply concepts like supply and demand, but for art and artists, this monetary value is largely arbitrary. For example, tickets to Hamilton on Broadway (currently the hottest ticket on Broadway) are going for anywhere between $600 – $1,100 a piece. A busker out in front of the Xcel Center during a Wild game would likely make a fraction of a dollar per person who happens to catch a part of their performance on the way to wherever they may be going. But for argument’s sake let’s round up. With due respect to the cast, crew, and producers of Hamilton, is their work 600 times more valuable than the buskers? Some might say yes, some might say no. Some of the aforementioned capitalists would also say that Banksy is crazy to be willing to part with his work for $60 when he could make as much as $169,940 more. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that at the level of Hamilton or Banksy these prices are often not set by the artists themselves; there are producers, art dealers, and scores of others who stand to make a cut of the money that comes in. On the other hand, the busker cuts out the proverbial middle man and gets to keep all the money dropped in his or her hat/cup/case, no matter how little it may be.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I’m sure many of us out there have paid a pretty penny for performances that, as we left the ornate halls, theaters, and auditoriums, we thought to ourselves “well, that wasn’t worth it.”

But if we are able to separate the ideas of value and cost, then perhaps we will begin to place a different value on the art in our communities. Perhaps we can cultivate a greater appreciation of those who, like Gershwin, play in the cafes, bars, and on street corners. And whether or not they practice enough to get to Carnegie Hall, we can expand our view of where great art happens. It’s not just in the dimmed houses where we sit silently, surrounded by other silent, nicely dressed art lovers who set aside time and money to consume art. It may very well be in the most unlikely of places, and if we’re not paying attention, we might miss it.

Maud’s Pick

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As the Chanteuse in Park Square Theatre’s The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer, Maud Hixson will be filling the Proscenium Stage with her soulful voice. When asked for her favorite Gershwin tune to sing or hear and why, Maud kept her answer short and sweet:

My favorite Gershwin song is “Little Jazz Bird” because I’ve always loved Blossom Dearie’s recording of it, and I love performing it myself.

To hear Blossom Dearie’s rendition of the song, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuWJzDJOOVY&sns=em

Maud Hixson’s Background:

Park Square Debut Representative Theatre Guthrie Theater, Dowling Studio: Coward’s Women Awards/Other Two-time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artist Initiative Grant; McKnight Foundation’s “Next Step” Grant recipient; Two-time performer at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in the New York Cabaret Convention Upcoming Projects Touring with Listening For Your Song (A Musical Companion to the Betsy-Tacy Books by Maud Hart Lovelace)

Michael Paul Levin, Maud Hixson and Maggie Burton in rehearsal

Michael Paul Levin, Maud Hixson and Maggie Burton in rehearsal (Photo by Connie Shaver)

The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer – December 2 to 31

Join us for the holidays at Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage!

 

Maggie’s Picks

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In Park Square Theatre’s upcoming musical, The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer, Maggie Burton will play the Chazzan (Cantor). When asked “What is your favorite Gershwin tune to hear or sing (or both!)? And why?,” she answered:

I love just about everything Gershwin wrote.  I never get tired of listening to “Rhapsody in Blue,” so I guess that’s my favorite tune to listen to. Today, anyway. Could be something else tomorrow!

As for singing–an obvious answer for me would be “Summertime.”  It’s so beautiful and versatile. But another song I really enjoy singing is “By Strauss.”  It’s a fun, up-tempo waltz with clever lyrics that Gershwin wrote in the style of Johann Strauss, the composer known as the Waltz King. The song has been recorded by such diverse artists as Ella Fitzgerald and Kiri te Kanawa, which says a lot about the range of the Gershwins’ music and lyrics.

In our show, Gershwin alludes to the idea that good composers borrow, but great composers steal. He also says we might hear (in his music) something that we might not expect–something that he himself might not expect. “By Strauss” is a great example.

Join Maggie Burton and her fellow cast-mates, accompanied by a live band, at Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage from December 2 to 31 for a rousing good time! You’ll be singing and dancing out of the theatre!

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Maggie Burton’s Background:

Park Square The Soul of Gershwin (1999 and 2011) Representative Theatre Garden of Song Opera: Cendrillon;  Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera: HMS Pinafore; Minnesota Opera: Anna Bolena; Cross Community Players: Oklahoma; Morris Park Players: Sound of Music Training B.A., Music, University of Minnesota; M.M., Vocal Performance, University of Minnesota Awards/Other Soprano soloist with 1st John Sousa Memorial Band; Cantor/cantorial soloist for Jewish High Holy Days

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