Things that are inherently American: baseball, apple pie, capitalism and jazz.
Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the latter, along with other inherently American music, with its concert "An American Songbook" this Saturday.
The third concert in TSO's "Hear the World with Tulsa Symphony Orchestra" series, "An American Songbook" showcases great American music from 1920 to 1960.
"Like the country itself, American music combines our varied experiences and musical styles," said Ron Predl, TSO's executive director.
On the bill for the evening is music by George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Duke Ellington.
"George Gershwin's compositions span both popular and classic genres, and many of his melodies are universally familiar," Predl said, explaining why the aforementioned composers were chosen to represent American music in the concert.
"Girl Crazy is widely considered the greatest of his lighthearted musicals. His famous Porgy and Bess was an opera based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy, which deals with the African-American experience from fictitious Catfish Row."
Selections from both works will be played in the concert. Tulsa Opera performed Porgy and Bess as part of its 2008-2009 season.
"Rodgers' Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a ballet from Rodgers and Hart's Broadway musical comedy On Your Toes," Predl continued.
Slaughter is the story of a tap dancer who falls in love with a dance hall girl who gets shot and killed by her envious boyfriend. The heartbroken hoofer exacts revenge by killing the boyfriend.
"Duke Ellington's Suite from Brown, Beige and Black tells the story of African-Americans and the place of slavery and the church in their history," Predl said. "Ellington, known as one of the giants of jazz music, transcended musical categories.
"'American Songbook' is a collection of music encompassing Broadway musical theatre, Hollywood musicals and tunes of Tin Pan Alley from the 1920s."
Accompanying TSO for portions of the concert are vocalist Andrea Baker, trumpeter Walter White and the University of Tulsa Jazz Band.
Baker is a former TU student and inductee in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. In addition to being an acclaimed singer, one who's been compared by jazz critics to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, Baker is an accomplished guitarist, bassist, pianist, composer and arranger. She has performed with jazz legends and frequently travels, performing and acting as a clinician and adjudicator. She is director of jazz studies at Pasadena City College in California.
"It is a wonderful opportunity to feature one of Oklahoma's truly outstanding talents," Predl said.
White, a Detroit native, began playing the trumpet at age 9 and is a protégé of the late, great Maynard Ferguson. He's also played with the Woody Herman Orchestra, Gunther Schuller, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and the Mingus Big Band.
White is the lead trumpeter for Dave Matthews's Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, with which he tours bi-yearly.
He's also an accomplished composer.
"Additionally, he is an outstanding arranger who arranged all the songs in 'American Songbook,'" Predl said. "Sharing him with TU was an excellent opportunity for both TU and TSO."
Behind the baton that evening will be Maestro Ron Spigelman, music director for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Missouri.
The concert marks the culmination of TSO's "Great Music, Great Spaces, Great Images" series, which featured TSO musicians performing in chamber concerts in historic art deco buildings. Prior to each concert, an authority on art deco architecture would speak on its history and importance.
Accompanying the music is an exhibition of photographs by David Halpern, Ralph Cole and Teresa Valero of art deco architecture. The exhibit remains on display through the end of the month in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's gallery, on the Chapman Music Hall side of the venue.
"'Great Music, Great Spaces, Great Images' was inspired by the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture events in Tulsa October 2008," Predl said. "TFA drew people from across the nation to celebrate Tulsa's magnificent art deco architecture.
"TSO wanted to wed the music of the art deco (period) with the architecture by performing the music in significant art deco buildings. Audiences have been really impressed with the concept and the events."
Predl said TSO will continue this newfound tradition with similar series in the future.
TSO's "An American Songbook" is Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7:30pm in the PAC's Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. Second St. Tickets are $10-$65 and available at www.tulsapac.com or by calling 596-7111. Discounts are available for seniors older than 65 and children under 12.
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