From delicate taps on a triangle to a groovy stand-up bass solo, the orchestra did justice to the melodic and soulful majesty of the 20th century composer. Photo stills projected on a screen accompanied anecdotes about Gershwin’s life, concert stories and insights into his songwriting. One tale said that rhythms of tracks clanging on a train ride inspired “Rhapsody in Blue.” The show’s apex offered a rousing and breathtaking rendition of the first-of-its-kind jazz-orchestral piece, highlighted by co-producer/pianist Kevin Cole’s impassioned performance. His dancing fingers projected on a screen above.
Other Gershwin favorites included “S’wonderuful,” “Summertime” and “Love Is Here to Stay,” which was the final song Gershwin wrote before his untimely death at 38, sung by o-producer, pianist and narrator Kevin Cole. His was the most feeling vocal performance of the night, which also offered the Lawrence Welk Show stylings of Sylvia McNair and a charming tap dancer/singer Danny Gardner.
The final concert of the Gershwin series is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
The orchestra members take a break and spotlights National Symphony of Cuba: Gershwin and Beethoven Wed. night at Mahaffey Theater. Guido Lopez-Gavilan conducts with pianist Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera.
The history-making visit of the Cuban symphony also includes a chamber music concert — appropriately enough — at the Cuban Club in Ybor City Tues. at 7:30 p.m. ($25 and $40) and a master class at University of Tampa. Visit floridaorchestra.org for more information.