By George, half a century on it's still a good thing when Gershwin music is front and center. During the next few days two Southern California orchestras are turning their focus to brothers George and Ira.
It was one of the rare occasions when the composer conducted in public.
This turned out to be the first public hint at a deadly, unstoppable tragedy. Gershwin was suffering from an undiagnosed and rapidly progressing brain tumor. Within five months he lapsed into a coma and, on July 11, a few hours after emergency surgery, George Gershwin died.
"He was still writing for the movies, but he was also actively planning to work on a second opera. There is a string quartet written, though only the viola part remains that we know of. Plus, popular music was constantly changing -- the swing era, for instance, is just surging; how would he have responded?"
The book is organized into 12 chapters, arranged chronologically through the Gershwins' careers. The text, which delves deeply into their professional and personal lives, is supplemented with in-depth parsings of 12 Gershwin tunes, which Feinstein sings on a CD that accompanies the book.
"The song was later a hit for a lot of people. But I was taken with a version done for a 1959 Cyd Charisse TV special and this hasn't been heard live previously.
"You know, I always say -- and I do mean -- that each show is personal to me, in one way or another. But the Gershwins' music is indelible, it is woven into our cultural history, has made American music what it is. So I may not show it at the podium, but be aware that I am honored to conduct this program."
Michael Feinstein, conducting the Pasadena Pops in an all-Gershwin program, with guest vocal soloists
Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Program includes two Gershwin pieces, “Cuban Overture” and “Porgy and Bess: Symphonic Picture.” Hollywood Bowl, Tuesday, with gates opening at 6 p.m., performance at 8:30 p.m. $2-$148.50. 323-850-2040 or www.hollywoodbowl.com.