Most consider the golden age of American popular song to be the years between the two World Wars. The lyricists who formulated the American Songbook style--Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter--all began writing in the 1920s, inventing a new native poetry drawn from a wonderful combination of sophisticated wordplay and unstudied, everyday parlance.
Of these Ira Gershwin in particular stands out, first because he was the first to write an established musical comedy hit in this new, "All-American" style (1924's Lady Be Good!, with music by younger brother, George), and second because he was, simply put, one of its greatest masters. Ira described his lyrics as “simple, colloquial, rhymed conversational lines”. These “simple” lines magically draw the listener in with their high level of craftsmanship and extreme wit.
George and Ira Gershwin had one of the most esteemed collaborations in the Golden Age of musical comedy, resulting in a brilliant body of work that included a seemingly endless string of hit musicals and songs cut short only by George's untimely death in 1937. Both the contribution and influence on musical theater and American popular song was profound.
Stunned by George’s death, Ira did no writing for three years. But he then began a second career writing with many different composers including Kurt Weill, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Aaron Copland, Arthur Schwartz, Harry Warren, Kay Swift and Burton Lane and proved anew that he was one of the great songwriters.
, artistic director, vocalsJesse Cloninger
, music director, reedsBob Cross
, vocalsEvynne Hollens
, vocalsJoe Manis
, reedsMichael Stone
, vocalsVicki Brabham
, pianoNathan Waddell