Patrons Adela and Larry Elow have established a $50,000 endowment fund through The Mabel Mercer Foundation, created specifically to encourage teenagers to learn and perform The Great American Songbook. The grant will provide annual cash awards to young performers for the next 10 years.
Beginning in 2018, young performers from performing-arts public high schools in the greater New York area will compete in an annual concert of songs that must be from The Great American Songbook (composed between 1900 and 1970).
The inaugural competition, Songs Were Made to Sing While We’re Young, will be held at the Laurie Beechman Theater, located at 407 West 42nd Street, February 3. The evening will feature students from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Talent Unlimited High School, and Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS).
The young singers will compete for cash awards: a $2,500 first prize, a $1,500 second prize, and a $1,000 third prize.
“We are committed to preserving and presenting this material; that's our mission, that's our goal,” commented Adela Elow. “My husband and I are very involved with music and the arts: for 26 years, we've been active in the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah. Now this new endowment fund enables us to reach out through the Mabel Mercer Foundation to young people—because it's through the performances of these young people that these songs will live for the next hundred years.”
Among the notable composers and lyricists featured in The Great American Songbook are Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Cahn, Hoagy Carmichael, Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Howard Dietz, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Fields, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Jerry Herman, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Frederick Loewe, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Arthur Schwartz, Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, Harry Warren, and Alec Wilder, among many more.
For more information on the Mabel Mercer Foundation visit MabelMercer.org.
Watch highlights from the 2016 Encores! production of the 1964 musical Do I Hear a Waltz?, starring Melissa Errico, with a score by Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim: