Orchestra New England to Perform Gershwin "Portrait" at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts


On Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts presents Orchestra New England (ONE), under the musical direction of James Sinclair in an original work that combines a dramatic narrative with dynamic singing and luscious orchestral arrangements: "Pardon My English: A Gershwin Portrait" on Saturday, March 17 at 8 p.m. This performance is only the second of this engaging work and follows the premiere of "A Gershwin Portrait" by one week.

Harry Clark, a cellist and playwright who is also the director, has created more than 30 similar "portraits" of famous composers from Charles Ives to Tchaikovsky, conceived "A Gershwin Portrait" as an "entertainment of substance," as he describes it, in collaboration with Sinclair, music director and conductor of ONE.

Clark employs a familiar dramatic convention - the exploration of a main character through the eyes of a close associate - and in "A Gershwin Portrait" he uses the character of the protective older sibling/collaborator Ira, as narrator. Identified by Clark as "one of America's greatest wordsmiths," Ira was also the greatest admirer of his kid brother's talents. An acute observer of all that occurred in their meteoric rise to fame, Ira was left to carry on the Gershwin legacy after George's tragically early death. With this dramatic device firmly in place, the path is opened to the famous team's familiar and lesser-known music and songs.

Under Sinclair's baton, soprano Tiffany Jackson, baritone Richard Lalli and pianist Gary Chapman join Ira and the orchestra with a program that includes "Summertime" and "Bess, You Is My Woman" from "Porgy and Bess," "Nice Work if You Can Get It," "The Man I Love," "Love Walked Right In," and "Rhapsody In Blue," among others. Clark determined early in the research phase of the piece, that the great joy in creating this stirring production was the exploration of the "patter song," as he refers to it. Influenced by his idols, Gilbert and Sullivan, Ira's lyrics often paid homage to their unique style of writing.

Ms. Jackson has been an artist at major music festivals nationally and internationally, including the Ravinia Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, the Bath Festival and the Nordland Festival in Norway, among others. She was raised in New Haven and earned a Master of Music and Artists Diploma from Yale University School of Music.

Richard Lalli performs as a singer around the world. He has sung at Lincoln Center, the Spoleto Festival USA, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, among other venues. He is an associate professor of music at Yale University.

Connecticut native Gary Chapman has performed at the Spoleto Festival USA, in New York City, London, Paris and Washington D.C. He has toured in recital with soprano Dawn Upshaw and with Richard Lalli.

Tickets are $35, $30 and are now available online at www.quickcenter.com or call the Box Office at (202) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 23, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 160