Leonard Bernstein: American Idol, American Idealist showcases the charismatic artist. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.
Through these presentations, learn about the musical heritage of the state and the nation. From the jazz clubs of Pennsylvania, to the music of masters like Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Foster, to the uniqueness of homemade instruments, this category offers many ways to experience and further your understanding of music.
Commonwealth Cool: Pennsylvania Jazz History and Tradition L
Experience the rich jazz tradition of Pennsylvania. Storytelling and audiovisual clips are used to explore the music that arose from some of the most significant neighborhood jazz clubs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from the 1930s through the 1960s. Musicians came to jam, musical mentorships were established, and up-and-coming greats like composer Billy Strayhorn and saxophonist John Coltrane got their starts. Jazz clubs also became venues for the intersection of white and black communities and the collapsing of social boundaries. The presentation concludes with an examination of the contemporary jazz scene and a look at artists to watch for in the future.
Equipment: DVD player and TV monitor
Suzanne Cloud, Collingswood, NJ
Co-founder & Executive Director, Jazz Bridge
Homemade Music in Pennsylvania F H P
Long before we learned how to download music from the Internet, people in Pennsylvania knew how to make music out of whatever raw materials were available. Nowadays, we can reduce, reuse and recycle to make beautiful music from throwaway items like soda pop bottles and toilet paper rolls. In this presentation, award-winning performer and educator Paula Purnell demonstrates a host of homemade musical instruments while sharing songs from Pennsylvania's past. Audience members are invited to play along—and even do a little instrument making of their own.
Equipment: Access to an electrical outlet and a performance space large enough to accommodate several participants.
Paula Purnell, Greensburg
Performer. Professional Studies in Education Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Irish Harp 'n' Time 'n' Place L P
What connects musical instruments to the physics of sound? This presentation connects the visible changes in the Irish harp to the changes in its music, describing both the changing structure and function of the music. Beginning with the small, low-headed triangular frame harp of the early medieval period, familiar to us through story and image, we explore the transition of this instrument through to the present day. This lecture/performance presents history as story, includes musical demonstration and invites audience participation.
Equipment: Display table and LCD projector. PA sound system for groups of 25 or more. If possible, chalk board.
Darcy Fair, Doylestown
Musician & Instructor. Children's/Youth Services Librarian
Leonard Bernstein: American Idol, American Idealist H L P
For half a century beginning in the 1940s, Leonard Bernstein was one of the most charismatic presences on the American arts scene. This presentation is a portal to understanding one of America's most colossal but enigmatic musicians. Karl Middleman, of the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, gives a conductor's perspective on what made Leonard Bernstein great. He also explores Bernstein's engagement with social issues and talks about Bernstein's time in Philadelphia at the Curtis Institute of Music. Video and audio recordings, as well as piano demonstrations, bring Bernstein's story to life.
Equipment: Chair, DVD player with TV monitor or screen. If possible, lectern/podium and piano.
Karl Middleman, Merion
Founder and Artistic Director, Philadelphia Classical Symphony
The Music of Irving Berlin L
Learn about great American composer Irving Berlin's career, compositions and importance in shaping American popular thought in the 20th century. This presentation provides extensive musical excerpts to illustrate five periods of Irving Berlin's musical career. Each musical selection is accompanied by discussion of the historical context and cultural climate of the time. Audiences learn how Berlin's songs reflected (and sometimes attempted to alter) the popular mood. Included are rare images of Berlin's sheet music and photographs from the time. Audience discussion is encouraged.
Equipment: If possible, screen.
Phillip Atteberry, Titusville
English & Music History Instructor, University of Pittsburgh-Titusville
Ned Washington: Songs for Stage and Screen L
Scranton-born Ned Washington has been relatively unsung for his contributions to the Great American Songbook. One of Tin Pan Alley's most prolific lyricists, his career embraced vaudeville, Broadway, Hollywood and TV. As we trace his life in songwriting, we get a fascinating look into the patterns of American popular music and corresponding changes in modes of representation and public taste. Included are recordings of Washington's most celebrated songs and selected movie clips featuring his work. Audiences are invited to "sing along" and reflect on the evolution of the Great American Songbook as a soundtrack to American society and culture.
Equipment: Needs DVD player with TV monitor or screen (with speakers preferred). If possible, overhead projector.
J. Philip Mosley, Gouldsboro
English, Communications & Comparative Literature Professor, Penn State University-Worthington/Scranton
Reverend Gary Davis: Genius of Piedmont Guitar — An Homage P
This presentation with Ernie Hawkins explores the Piedmont guitar style of finger picking, which originated in the Carolina foothills in the early 20th century and has a special place in the history of American music. It also pays homage to the singular genius of Piedmont guitarist Reverend Gary Davis. Born in deep poverty in rural South Carolina, African American and blind from an early age, Davis rose to become a giant of American music. Through performance and discussion with Hawkins, audiences discover the essentials of Piedmont guitar and how Davis' highly entertaining style came to stand atop the tradition. Included are commentary and reminiscences by Hawkins.
Equipment: Chair. For large spaces, PA sound system with 2 mics, 1 for guitar and 1 for vocals with boom stands.
Ernie Hawkins, Pittsburgh
Steeltowns, Coalfields and the Unbroken Circle P
Tom Breiding delivers unique musical stories of life in American towns over the last century. From Pittsburgh's forgotten steel mills, to the coalfields of Western Virginia and to points in between, Breiding shares his original compositions and traditional folktales. With guitar, banjo and harmonica accompaniment, Breiding captivates audiences while they learn about the history behind West Virginia's coal industry and about generations of workers in the steel, coal and glass industries of Pittsburgh.
Equipment: Speaker will provide his own PA sound system. Access to electrical outlet required.
Tom Breiding, McMurray
Stephen Foster: American Dreamer F H P
Oh! Susanna. Camptown Races. Beautiful Dreamer. This presentation recounts the life, times and music of Stephen Foster, America's great 19th century songwriter. Starting with his birth in 1826, his early proclivity for music, his subsequent exposure to the minstrel tradition by age ten, and his brilliant but all too short songwriting career, this program presents examples of music not only from Foster's body of work, but also work from other influences present during the time of his life. Stephen Foster's biography in song is outlined—with guitar, fiddle banjo and dulcimer—in a highly interactive performance suitable for audiences of all ages.
Equipment: Armless chair. Speaker will bring his own equipment. Access to electrical outlet required.
Bruce Young, State College
F Family/Younger AudiencesAlso See. . .
H Hands-on/Active Participation