Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oh, (Karen) Kay!

Gershwin at noon is irresistible and, let's face it, they can't take that away from me.

Patrick Smith was giving a lecture, "Grasping Gershwin: The Man Behind the Music," complete with musical clips.

So I wound my way through VCU's Cabell Library, only to hear "Hello, Karen" from behind.  It was a favorite poet who'd recognized me by (what else?) my tights.

Once in the lecture room, I saw a friend, singer and accordionist also in attendance.

Goofy for Gershwin, all of us.

Smith talked about Gershwin's musical siblings, talented musicians all, except for brother Arthur who was merely a "musical enthusiast."

Personally, I consider that the highest compliment.

We beard about Gershwin's years on Tin Pan Alley, his mega-success when Jolsen recorded "Swanee" and his foray into symphonic jazz.

It was that battle between high brow and low brow music that Gershwin took as his challenge and mission.

Naturally I was taken with the story of Gershwin's great love, a woman named Kay (coincidentally, also my middle name) whom his mother forbade him to marry (she wasn't Jewish) so he carried on a life-long affair with her.

That love manifested itself in the music he wrote for the musical, "Oh, Kay!"

Now that was an essential piece of Gershwin trivia I definitely needed to know (and my needs have been quite the topic of conversation lately).

The engaging Smith talked about the experimental concert for which Gershwin composed "Rhapsody in Blue" and how he heard "music in the very heart of the noise" of the train he was riding on as he composed it.

Of course the tragedy was how young Gershwin died of a brain tumor, silencing his musical output.

Luckily, he'd already put his philosophy out there.

"Don't die with you music still inside of you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul."

Every day, all day. And night.

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