George Gershwin would be marking his 100th birthday on Sept. 26, 1998. What better way to celebrate this milestone than to throw a lavish party with the composer himself in attendance?
On Jan. 2 and 3, the Boston Pops performs Gershwin's 1924 composition "Rhapsody in Blue" with Gershwin as soloist -- sort of. The actual sounds of the composer (from Gershwin's personal piano rolls) will come to life with the help of a Yamaha Disklavier concert grand piano that will be connected to a computer via MIDI(musical instrument digital interface).
In addition to this novel performance of the "Rhapsody," the program will also feature vocalist Carol Sloane performing "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "Bidin' My Time" and "But Not for Me." The Boston Pops will also perform Gershwin's "An American in Paris." The conductor is Keith Lockhart, now in his third season with the orchestra.
Gershwin recorded the "Rhapsody" twice with Paul Whiteman's orchestra for RCA -- in 1924 and 1927. In addition, there is an electronically produced recording of Gershwin's piano rolls available on Elektra Nonesuch, although the sound is rather lifeless. (It's a good bet that the coupling of Gershwin and the Pops will be a much more full-bodied affair.)
The salutes to composer Gershwin, who died of a brain tumor in 1937, will be in full swing later this year, including a semi-staged performance of the political satire Strike Up the Band by the "Encores!" series at New York's City Center in February. -- By Rebecca Paller