Guest conductor Bramwell Tovey can’t say enough about the music of George Gershwin, whose works will be featured in Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts March 24-25 that he will lead from the piano. Of the composer’s Rhapsody in Blue, which he has performed “40 to 5o times” since the late ’80s, Tovey observes in this short video, “Rhapsody in Blue has a very classical form … and yet the piece has an improvisatory feel about it. If you like jazz, musicals, classical music, piano concertos, there’s something in this piece for everybody. As soon as you hear Gerswhin, it just lifts you up. It just elevates your mood.”
Titled “Gershwin Spectacular,” the CSO program consists of selections from the composer’s canon: the overture to the musical Strike Up the Band, the song A Foggy Day (in Tovey’s own arrangement), the Catfish Row Suite from the opera Porgy and Bess, Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. “This program takes in the most famous works of George Gershwin for orchestra,” Tovey said. “The whole program is just one favorite after another.”
Note: Ahead of the March 24 concert, the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association will present the fund-raiser “A Toast to Gershwin!” Starting at 5:30 p.m. in Grainger Ballroom, pre-concert activities include cocktails, savories and a silent auction. After the CSO program at 7:30 p.m., there will be a post-concert celebration, also in Grainger Ballroom, with live jazz by singer Tammy McCann, along with desserts, nightcaps, another silent auction and a visit from Maestro Tovey.