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Composer Alan Gershwin to Appear for the florida premiere of the "Gettysburg Anthem" | Arts & Culture

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Composer Alan Gershwin to Appear for the florida premiere of the "Gettysburg Anthem"
Composer Alan Gershwin to Appear for the florida premiere of the "Gettysburg Anthem"

Sarasota, Florida -- Composer Alan Gershwin will be in Sarasota for the Florida premiere of his “Gettysburg Anthem,” a musical celebration of the Gettysburg Address.

The premiere is a highlight of "Celebrating America," Gloria Musicae's Independence Day concert paying tribute to American composers and to the American spirit, July 4, 4 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota. The multimedia concert, featuring the Gloria Musicae Singers, will showcase works by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Stephen Foster, the Andrews Sisters and the Big Band era. Tickets are $35 for the concert; $15 for students with ID. Ample, free parking is available at the Zenith Garage on Mira Mar Court. For tickets, call 941-360-7399 or visit www.gloriamusicae.org.

“We’re honored that Alan Gershwin, the son of the great George Gershwin, and a celebrated composer in his own right, will be here to share his inspired homage to Lincoln’s milestone address,” says Dr. Joseph Holt, Gloria Musicae's artistic director. “We’re pairing this dynamic, moving work with a rousing choral rendition of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ so it promises to be a choral tour de force!”

For decades, Alan Gershwin has paid tribute to the work of his legendary father while adding to the repertoire of American music with his own critically acclaimed compositions. Born in 1926, Gershwin was raised secretively under the name Albert Schneider. After a stint overseas with the U.S. Navy, Gershwin returned to the United States and launched his own successful music career, composing original scores for film and theater. From 1958 to 1972, Gershwin also served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department, drawing on the worldwide love of his father’s music in his role as an international goodwill ambassador. He continues to honor his father’s life and music with tributes and guest appearances.

Alan Gershwin’s “Gettysburg Anthem” is part of his ongoing homage to his legendary father. As he sees it, building on the musical foundation his father laid down is the ultimate act of respect. “I knew that my father had begun writing music that was inspired by the Gettysburg Address—but the work was never recorded or found,” explains Gershwin. "So, I decided to compose something in my father's memory.” A fully orchestrated version of the anthem premiered in 2009 at a Kennedy Center concert celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. The present version, for tenor solo, chorus, organ and trumpet, debuted in 2012 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C., the church regularly attended by the Lincoln family following his inauguration in 1861.

Holt says he was immediately captivated by the piece and its history. “For this concert celebrating America, Alan Gershwin’s 'Gettysburg Address' is a poignant addition, particularly as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s address,” he says. "The words penned by Abraham Lincoln dedicating the Gettysburg battlefield reflect American sentiment honoring those who gave the last full measure of devotion.”

The program will also include a medley of tunes by Irving Berlin, some favorite pieces by Stephen Foster, a tribute to the Big Band era with Gloria Musicae’s own “Andrews Sisters,” a medley of traditional patriotic songs, and a salute to our nation's veterans. Shirley Blair's vibrant photos of the 2012 firework display over Sarasota Bay will provide a dazzling backdrop to the music.

“This promises to be a great afternoon of rousing and inspired tunes,” says Holt. “We offer all that, plus an appearance by Alan Gershwin, who is a living piece of Americana. What better way to celebrate our country and its timeless musical heritage?”