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A Gershwin Centennial with Artis—Naples



George Gershwin at his 132 E. 72nd Street apartment in

New York with his 1929 portrait by Isamu Noguchi, 1934.

Photo by CBS via Getty Images


 

Artis—Naples continues their vibrant 2023-24 season this month with an array of captivating exhibitions at The Baker Museum, enthralling performances by the Naples Philharmonic, enlightening educational opportunities and even a taste of Broadway. But what truly sets this February apart is the commencement of a season-long celebration dedicated to George Gershwin, marking the centennial of his iconic masterwork Rhapsody in Blue.


Seamlessly blending classical and jazz, the piece forever left its mark on the world of music. And this season, Artis—Naples not only honors Gershwin as a composer, but also as a multidisciplinary artist who transcended boundaries between visual and performing arts.

The Baker Museum kicks off the celebration with the unveiling of the first major museum exhibition dedicated to Gershwin’s profound connection to the visual arts on February 10. George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue is a landmark exhibition that features paintings, drawings and photographs created by Gershwin himself, alongside works from his extensive modern art collection. The exhibition also showcases pieces from contemporary artists inspired by Gershwin and his work. The works were generously loaned from museums around the world, Gershwin’s family and even the Library of Congress—providing an original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue. Curated by Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., and The Baker Museum Director Chief Curator Courtney McNeil, the exhibition aims to show viewers how Gershwin’s love for the visual arts inspired his compositional practice—and how generations of artists and musicians continue to be inspired by his work.


Left: David Robertson | Photo by Chris Lee

Middle: Capathia Jenkins

Right: Miami City Ballet dancers in ©Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room performed by Miami City Ballet. Photo © Gene Schiavone.

 

The Naples Philharmonic also contributes to the festivities with their Masterworks performance of Rhapsody in Blue from February 15 to 17. The performance showcases Gershwin’s masterpiece in its original version for piano and jazz band as well as its better-known version for full symphony orchestra. Guest conductor David Robertson leads the performance, making his Naples Philharmonic debut, alongside his wife, piano virtuosa Orli Shaham, as a soloist. Beyond Gershwin, additional highlights include a Sypert Salon program of works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn on February 11 and 13, a Wang Chamber Music program on February 18 with music by Brahms and Robert and Clara Schumann and Naples Philharmonic Pops program She’s Got Soul, led by Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly, from February 27 to March 2.


A diverse range of special guests join in the celebration of Gershwin and beyond. Great American Songbook Ambassador Michael Feinstein returns to Hayes Hall on February 12 for a revival of his iconic show A Tribute to George Gershwin. Patrons may also join Feinstein on February 11 as he engages in a moderated conversation, delving into the George Gershwin and Modern Art exhibition. Drawing from his experience as an archivist and close friend of George Gershwin’s brother, Ira Gershwin, Feinstein offers insights into Gershwin and his continuous legacy. Jodie DeSalvo also puts a Gershwin spin on her Piano Talks series on February 29 with All Gershwin All the Time. Other notable performing arts highlights include jazz vocalist Jane Monheit on February 5, Miami City Ballet’s first 2023-24 performance on February 6, uproarious comedian Steve Solomon February 6-7 and the sold-out Broadway show Tina – The Tina Turner Musical from February 20 to 25.


Tickets and additional details can be found at artisnaples.org.

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