George Gershwin at 125 (Plus One)

This seminar salutes the 2023 125th anniversary of George Gershwin’s birth by exploring some of his scores from both stage and screen, putting his songs and music into their contexts. From the stage are Strike Up the Band and Of Thee I Sing, both Gilbert & Sullivan-influenced political satires. The films include two adaptations of his Broadway show Girl Crazy; two original scores, Shall We Dance and A Damsel in Distress; a posthumous “catalogue” film, An American in Paris; Woody Allen’s comedy Manhattan which features a score of all Gershwin songs; and Otto Preminger’s version of Porgy and Bess. One of these films will be shown in its entirety.

Venue: The Engineering Center
Meets on: Wednesdays 3:30 to 5:30 PM
Starting: 4/3/2024
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 24
Teaching Style: Lecture with questions
Weekly Preparation: None
Group Leader Biography:

Bradford Conner and Benjamin Sears have been performing together since 1989 and lecture regularly on the music they perform. Conner and Sears are leading scholars of Irving Berlin, having recorded six CDs of his songs and contributed articles to numerous scholarly publications about Berlin and other Great American Songbook songwriters. Sears, a graduate of Ithaca College and editor of The Irving Berlin Reader, wrote a chapter in Adapting the Wizard of Oz: Musical Versions from Baum to MGM and Beyond, and is in the early stages of developing The Fred Astaire Reader. A graduate of West Virginia University, Conner also studied at the University of Salzburg (Austria) and the American College of Salzburg. A “Renaissance Individual” with degrees in business, musicology, and foreign language, he has lectured and written on his interests in music and world history. Also opera and history lovers, Conner and Sears have taught numerous courses at Beacon Hill Seminars and are recipients of the Jack Curtin Award.