Celebrating George Gershwin's 100th Birthday At Yale's Norfolk Music Festival

The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival will take a breather from classical music to celebrate George Gershwin’s 100th birthday on Friday, July 17, and Saturday, July 18, at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills.

The Norfolk festival is the summer home of the Yale School of Music , offering concerts by internationally known ensembles, as well as recitals by rising young professionals.

Gershwin (1898-1937) created the first musical comedy to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, “Of Thee I Sing.” He is best known for his jazz-inspired compositions, “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris,” plus his musicals (“Lady Be Good,” “Strike up the Band,” “Girl Crazy”) and the opera, “Porgy and Bess,” with its familiar tunes like “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

Friday’s 8 p.m. concert in the Music Shed will feature the original “Aeolian Hall” version of “Rhapsody in Blue,” first performed in 1924 with Gershwin at the piano, accompanied by a jazz orchestra. Robert Blocker, dean of the Yale School of Music, will sit in for the composer. The concert will also include “Lullaby” for string quartet, selections from the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess,” and other works. Performers include Yale music faculty members Allan Dean, trumpet; Syoko Aki, violin; Ronald Roseman, oboe; and John Swallow, trombone. Thomas Duffy, director of Yale Bands and associate dean of the School of Music, will conduct.

Music scholar Allen Forte and baritone Richard Lalli, both Yale faculty members, will join forces for an interactive musical conversation about Gershwin’s songs on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Battell Recital Hall. Forte, author of “The American Popular Ballad in the Golden Era,” is an expert in 20th century music. Lalli has performed with the Boston Camerata, the New World Symphony, Orchestra New England, Tulsa Opera and the New Haven Symphony. This event is free.

Saturday’s 8 p.m. concert in the Music Shed will be a program of Gershwin songs, including “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and arias from “Porgy and Bess.” Performers will be Lalli, soprano Yvette McDaniel and pianist Gary Chapman.

Tickets for the evening concerts range from $9 to $26 and can be ordered by calling (860) 542-3000.

Members of the media are invited to cover this once-in-a-century event. Photos and press kits are available from Kelly Sherman at (860) 542-3000.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325