The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra will take its tribute to the Gershwin brothers on the road next week as part of the organization's effort to become, as its president put it, "one of the cultural treasures of Maryland."
Comcast Cable will present the spring pops concert By George! By Ira! By Gershwin! four times over four days next week, kicking off at 8 p.m. April 10 at the new 850-seat theater at Winters Mill High School in Westminster.
The performance will be repeated at 8 p.m. April 11 to the home audience at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, 8 p.m. April 12 at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park and 3 p.m. April 13 at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills, when the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel.
"We are excited about touring to new parts of the state," said ASO president Lee Streby. "We are grateful that Comcast recognizes the artistic excellence of the ASO and will help us share our music with new communities across the region."
The program will offer master classes in local schools and highlight student involvement with a marching band performance in each of the tour's presentations.
The performance at Maryland Hall will feature the Broadneck High School Marching Band, and at Chesapeake Arts Center, Baltimore Polytechnic and Western High School marching bands will play. Westminster will feature Winters Mill High School Marching Band, and the Milford Mill Academy Marching Band will perform at the final concert.
Carolyn Black-Sotir recalled writing this Gershwin program about 10 years ago for a Broadway popular song series.
Of Comcast's sponsoring the Maryland tour of this now theatrically-staged program, Black-Sotir said, "My affiliation as host of Comcast Local Edition and knowledge of Comcast's appreciation of fine arts in multimedia made it natural for me to approach Comcast after my good friend Lee Streby and I came up with the idea of doing this as an ASO pop concert."
The program will include selections from Porgy and Bess along with ragtime, ballad favorites and some little-known early works. Pianist R. Timothy McReynolds, bassist Tom Baldwin and operatic baritone Thomas R. Beard, Jr. will perform.
In his ASO debut, 22-year-old Eric Zuber of Bel Air, winner of the 2007 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, will perform "Rhapsody in Blue."
Black-Sotir has sung with many fine regional orchestras and performed in opera, oratorio, recital, musical theater and cabaret. She has recorded a number of CDs, including a 1999 version of the Gershwin program. When not on stage, Black-Sotir is a TV actress, host and journalist, perhaps best-known for her near-decade of hosting Comcast Local Edition on CNN Headline News.
Black-Sotir recently described this multimedia program as providing "a chance to follow Gershwin's life in a series of exciting images projected to trace this son of Jewish immigrants' rise to fame as we hear his uniquely American music," she said. "We show fantastic images of contemporaries like Arnold Schoenberg talking about George Gershwin. We want to bombard all the senses -- ears, eyes and soul in this theatrical concert."
Tickets to the concert at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., cost $34 to $44, with $10 student seats available. Information: www.annapolis symphony.org or 410-263-0907.
North County audiences can order Chesapeake Arts Center reserved seating at a reduced price of $20 for adults with $10 seats available for students. Information: www.chesapeake arts.org/tickets.html or 410-636-6597.
Information about the Maryland Regional Tour performances on April 10 in Westminster or April 13 in Owings Mills is available at 410-263-0907.