The Zach S. Henderson Library of Georgia Southern University is pleased to announce the opening on March 8 of “A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs,” a colorful new exhibit celebrating the many Jewish composers of the “American Songbook,” such as Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, and their great contributions to American popular culture during the period 1910-1965. Henderson Library is one of 55 sites throughout the United States selected for the exhibit's national tour. The exhibit is free and open to everyone.
Using images from Broadway musicals, classic films, and personal collections, “A Fine Romance” tells the story of Jewish artists who created songs of wit, sophistication and optimism through America’s ups and downs during the 20th century. The best songwriters combined a genius for melody, a talent for pairing it with the perfect words, and an ability to connect with a wide audience. A high percentage of them were Jewish, from families that had immigrated to America in the 1800s or fled pogroms and persecution in Europe at the turn of the century. Their witty and romantic songs—“Body and Soul,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Thou Swell,” “That Old Black Magic,” “It Had to Be You”—became beloved classics that remain enduring elements of American popular culture.
We invite you to the opening reception on Thursday, March 8. The exhibit will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m., with hors d'oeuvres available for attendees, and at 7 p.m. there will be a recital of songs by the featured composers. Local soprano Hillary Zeigler will be accompanied by Dr. Michael Braz, Georgia Southern Professor Emeritus. Mrs. Zeigler graduated magna cum laude from Georgia Southern University with a B.M. in Music, and currently teaches music at Brooklet Elementary School. She has performed in multiple musicals at the Averitt Center for the Arts, and is the Music Director for "Annie," which premieres in the Averitt Center in April. Dr. Braz has served as President of the Statesboro Arts Council and received both Georgia Southern’s President’s Medal and the Statesboro Herald’s “Humanitarian of the Year” honors. In fall 2009, he received recognition by the David H. Averitt Center as its third—and first living—“Legend in the Arts.”
Henderson Library is also sponsoring other free programs and events during the exhibit display period. On March 20 there is a presentation on the GSU campus in room 1915 of the Nessmith Lane Building by Michael Lasser, public radio personality and author of America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Copies of his books will be on sale. The next evening, March 21, in the same location, a panel of musical theater authorities will examine the influence of Jewish composers on the evolution of the American musical theater. The panel features Adrian Gnam, conductor of the Georgia Southern Symphony Orchestra; Michael Braz, music professor emeritus; and Roger Miller, whose long career includes teaching theater and directing theatrical productions.
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