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Happy 100th to Rhapsody in Blue! Videos and Program Notes from Our Rhapsody in Blue Centennial Concert

We were thrilled to be able to share our centennial concert for Rhapsody in Blue and the four Gershwin musicals of 1924 with so many people at Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on Sunday, February 11, 2024 — using George Gershwin’s own piano! It was amazing to have such a large and enthusiastic audience. Thank you so much to all who participated and to everyone who made it possible. Please read more about our program here!

We are thrilled to share with you the video of Rhapsody in Blue in its original jazz band orchestration by Ferde Grofé using Ryan Raul Bañagale’s critical edition, with soloist Kevin Cole, conductor Jayce Ogren, and SMTD’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble. Many thanks to Dave Schall for his always excellent videography and for the quick turnaround.

The remainder of the concert will be posted as well, but we wanted to get Rhapsody in Blue today as it is the actual centennial of the premiere! To learn more about Associate Editor Jacob Kerzner’s discovery of materials thought lost for La, La, Lucille (1919), George Gershwin’s first score for an entire musical, please read this post — and stay tuned for the performances of two excerpts from this same concert, sung by SMTD students Aquila Sol and Keyon Pickett!

George Gershwin composing at his piano, an instrument now donated to U-M.


The cover of the new critical edition of Rhapsody in Blue, edited by Ryan Raul Bañagale (Schott, 2023).

Volume Editor and Gershwin Edition Editorial Board member, Ryan. Bañagale.

Left to right, Jacob Kerzner (Associate Editor), Mark Clague (Editor in Chief), Lisa Keeney (Senior Editorial Assistant), Andrew S. Kohler (Alfred and Jane Wolin Managing Editor). Photograph by Laura Jackson.


  • Mike Green on February 13, 2024

    I enjoy receiving information from the Gershwin Initiative.
    I am celebrating the Rhapsody in Blue Centennial by giving a talk to a local Jazz Group in Norfolk. My title is “A Gershwin Adventure” and along with examples of various performances of R in B I will be talking about the lead up to the work from Gershwin’s earliest compositions and his progression towards jazz-influenced classical music.

    Best regards

    Mike Green

    P.S. I am pleased to have been able to include a short reference to Gershwin in my recent book “Birds and Their Gift of Music”

  • Lena Leson on February 13, 2024

    Thrilled that there is a recording of this fabulous performance——it’s almost as if I’m there with you all!

    • Andrew Kohler on February 13, 2024

      We so wish you could have joined us, but so glad we have the next best thing. 🙂

  • Alan Durman on February 21, 2024

    Great performance! Well done everyone, especially Kevin! Interesting extra bits!

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