Celebrating Gershwin

The multi-talented American composer and song-writer George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) remains revered by cross genre music audiences more than eight decades after his death at the tragically early age of 38.



An outstandingly gifted artist, Gershwin won world-wide fame for his music-making which spanned both popular and classical genres, generating a remarkable spectrum of hits which have stayed the course of time. Gershwin began his career as a song plugger, but soon started creating Broadway theatre works with his brother Ira Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris where he began to compose An American in Paris (1928). After returning to New York City, he wrote Porgy and Bess (1935) with Ira and the author DuBose Heyward. Initially a commercial failure, the masterwork is now considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century.


Gershwin moved to Hollywood where he composed numerous film scores during the last phase of his career. His compositions have been adapted for use in many films and for television, and several became jazz standards recorded in countless variations. Many celebrated singers and musicians have performed his songs.


KZN pianist and music entrepreneur Christopher Duigan opens his 2018 Music Revival programme of monthly concerts with a concise and fascinating tribute to the man who holds a unique place as a true crossover composer.  Celebrating Gershwin’s contribution to the 'classical' piano repertoire, Duigan plays the Three Preludes, the iconic Rhapsody in Blue (1924), and the richly collated Gershwin Songbook (1932).


This virtuoso selection of 19 compact improvisations by Gershwin of his own popular songs, provides a whirlwind pianistic tour-de-force through his songs. Included are 'Fascinating Rhythm', 'The Man I Love', 'S'Wonderful' and 'I Got Rhythm'.  Duigan completes the programme with ragtime music by Scott Joplin and novelty solos 'Dizzy Fingers' (Zez Confrey) and ‘Nola' (Felix Arndt).


Duigan performs his Gershwin tribute in a number of venues. The programme kicks off this evening (Friday 26 January) at Casa Mexicana, 35 Montgomery Drive, Athlone in Pietermaritzburg. Tickets including dinner from 18h30, are R200. Admission is R120 for the concert only which starts at 19h45.  Secure parking is provided. The programme will be reprised on Sunday (January 28) at 11h30 at Pietermaritzburg’s Tatham Art Gallery (tickets R80). 


Taking his programme to the North Coast, Duigan appears on Monday (January 29) at 19h00 at Grace Hall Ashton International College,  Albertina Way in Ballito  (opposite Ballito Hospital).Tickets are R150 with coffee and cake included at interval.  Seating is unreserved.



The Gershwin programme can then be heard on Tuesday (January 30) at 7:30 pm at St Agnes Church in Kloof, where admission is R100 including refreshments at interval. A final performance has been added at Casa Mexicana, 35 Montgomery Drive, Athlone in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday February 4 at 3.30pm. Doors open 3pm. Admission is R100 including iced. Booking essential for each of these recitals: E-mail booking@musicrevival.co.za or contact Music Revival 083 417 4473 (WhatsApp or SMS only).


On Tuesday February 6, Friends of Music presents a recital for Oboe and Piano duo, featuring the KZNPO’s new principal oboist, Myfanwy Price, with pianist Liezl-Maret Jacobs, at the Durban Jewish Centre, 44 KE Masinga Road. Price and Jacobs will perform a wide-ranging programme of rarities. These include: David Heath’s The Sapphire, Sonate by Henri Dutilleux, Morceau de Salon by Johann Kalliwoda, Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin, Fantaisie Pastorale by Eugène Bozza, Pieskarieni by Pēteris Vasks, and Variations from Donizetti’s opera La Favorita by Antonio Pasculli.


The evening, which starts at 7.30pm, will open with a brief appearance by prelude performer Tyrell Pillay, a talented young pianist who matriculated from Eden College last year. Tickets at the door are R100 (members), R120 (non-members) and R20 (students). Secure parking is provided. For information about further FOM events this year, including performances by many of our most distinguished classical musicians, log onto http://www.friendsofmusic.co.za/



1/ KZN pianist Christopher Duigan launches his 2018 Music revival programme this evening with a tribute to George Gershwin (photo by Val Adamson)

2/British oboist Myfanwy Price appears in recital for Friends of Music on February 6 (photo supplied)

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