Hey, George Gershwin, Where Were You Last Night?

Here at the retirement home there is a lecture in the auditorium at 6:30 every evening. A good crowd of about 150 usually attends. Topics vary tremendously from someone talking about his coin collection to the latest developments in space technology, an analysis of the political scene in China to music and opera. Some of the lectures are okay, some are good, some are very good and some are just great. Yesterday evening’s got a 10-star rating, meaning it was enjoyed immensely by everyone. The sound was good and the technology, meaning the coordination between lecturer, microphone, overhead projector, laptop computer and light-switch operator was excellent.

thCANBUQ5FThe lecture was the second in a series called “The Jewish contribution to Broadway and Hollywood”. The first lecture had featured Irving Berlin and this one centered around George Gershwin and his music. The lecturer, Arela, told anecdotes and about incidents in Gershwin’s life, played snatches of his music, showed video clips from his movies and held us enthralled for over an hour, past the allotted time. Nobody walked out and no one objected.

Of course the lecture overflowed into other lives of Gershwin’s time – his brother Ira, Irving Berlin, Al Johnson and Maurice Ravel. She showed an old clip of Tin Pan Alley and one could see the pianists and song-pluggers in action. We saw scenes from Gershwin’s most ambitious composition, Porgy and Bess, from 1935. Gershwin called it a “folk opera,” – it is now regarded as one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century.

The evening was quite a treat. Come back soon with the next episode, Arela, we can’t wait…

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