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Posts By: Mark Clague

1929 Gershwin Taxi Horn Photo Clarifies Mystery

A photo uncovered in the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Archive sheds a revealing light on the question of what pitches composer George Gershwin intended to be used for his iconic taxi horn passages in the symphonic tone poem An American in Paris (1928). As described in an article by Michael Cooper in The New York Times as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered, the forthcoming George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition of An American in Paris suggests that the traditional realization of the iconic taxi horn parts used by orchestras today is incorrect. Rather than sounding the pitches A, […]

New Sounds in Rhapsody and An American in Paris

Reno, NV—As editor-in-chief of the Gershwin Critical Edition, I’ve been in Reno this week with fellow editorial board member Ryan Bañagale (Colorado College), working with advisory board member Laura Jackson and her orchestra (the Reno Philharmonic) to test drive our new draft editions of An American in Paris (1928/29) and Rhapsody in Blue (1924, original Whiteman jazz arrangement). We’ve also joined forces with the Donald Sinta Quartet, who are featured as soloists in William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, but who also join the Philharmonic to perform the additional saxophone parts required by the new Gershwin editions. […]

The Gershwin Legacy of Dean Christopher Kendall

The University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative bids farewell this month to Dean Christopher Kendall, who has completed his second and final 5-year  term at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Deans at the University of Michigan can serve for a maximum of 10 years. Dean Kendall leaves behind a legacy of transformation, crowned by the Brehm Pavilion addition to the School’s Earl V. Moore Building. Yet, those of us affiliated with the University’s George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition and the broader educational efforts of the Michigan Gershwin Initiative feel that these projects, which place some of the most […]

Welcome to Jessica Getman — Managing Editor

The U-M Gershwin Initiative is pleased to announce the arrival of Dr. Jessica Getman as the inaugural Managing Editor of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition. With Dr. Getman in the office we will increase production efforts to bring the first volumes of the project to press, namely Rhapsody in Blue (1924, jazz band version, edited by Ryan Bañagale) and the landmark opera Porgy and Bess (1935, edited by Wayne Shirley). Dr. Getman recently earned her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Michigan, writing a dissertation on music in the original series of Star Trek (1966–69). Before joining the […]

On the Fringe of Fire—The Music of George Gershwin without Boundaries

George Gershwin was among the world’s first “Crossover Artists,” a master of not only opera, stage, and screen, but as well, of melding the styles of popular jazz with those more traditionally identified in the symphonic orchestra. As such, his music invites new and fresh interpretation, while still retaining the essence of Gershwin’s own artistic identity. Jazz trumpet professor Bill Lucas leads the project and points out: “As a Symphonic musician with serious jazz roots, it is often difficult to have to play Gershwin’s music within the orchestra, so straight laced, without any of the tools a jazz musician is […]

Gershwin on the Fringe Photo Gallery

Gershwin on the Fringe, a set on Flickr. U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance jazz trumpet professor Bill Lucas is in U-M’s Duderstadt Studio this month working on a new project — Gershwin on the Fringe — that taps into the lifeblood of Gershwins’ creativity by bringing a classical brass quintet together with a jazz combo. The resulting CD project will be released this spring with concerts in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Professor Lucas plays both jazz and classical music regularly as he is also a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Other U-M faculty involved include David Jackson […]

Gershwin Initiative Conversation with Mark Clague & Craig Fahle on WDET Radio

In celebration of George’s 115th birthday this week, I was a guest on Craig Fahle’s radio show on WDET in Detroit. Every time I get to talk about the Gershwin Initiative at the University of Michigan or the new George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, I get even more excited about the project. Click on the image above or here to listen to the segment on the Web. Thanks go to Craig and WDET for taking the time to celebrate this momentous opportunity.

Why a Gershwin Critical Edition?

As the newly appointed editor-in-chief of the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, I can’t believe my good fortune — to lead the team of scholars charged with the task of restoring and clarifying our understanding of the oeuvre of the Gershwin Brothers. It’s a privilege and honor to take on this responsibility and to contribute my passion for music and research to the task of making the works of George and Ira Gershwin available in full scholarly editions and for the first time. Most surprising to many, however, may be that this work needs to be done at all. […]

The Gershwin Piano @ U-M SMTD

This summer an incredible delivery arrived at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance — George Gershwin’s 1933 Steinway grand piano!!! The composer’s nephew, Marc George Gershwin, was moving from his longtime NYC apartment and the burgeoning collaboration with the University gave him a place to send the instrument—a new home in which the piano would not only be cherished but where it would be used regularly in performance. The instrument is a relatively rare Steinway “Long A” model, which has exceptional sound characteristics for its size (6′ 4″). We’ve played the piano just a bit and […]

Thoughts from Our Advisory Board

William Bolcom, Pulitzer Prize winning American composer Advisory Board Member, George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition “Finally there is a serious effort to put together a critical edition of George and Ira Gershwins’ work.  In the last few decades we’ve seen a growing number of worthwhile studies of American popular composers (see the recent Irving Berlin publications for example).  Others, like Jerome Kern and Alec Wilder, have written occasional chamber works alongside their song catalogues.  However George Gershwin, unlike his contemporaries in classic popular song, differs from the herd in that his non-Broadway work is major in substance, including one […]

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