Simply... George! features a new, powerful and original version of George Gershwin's Rhapsody for Piano and Wind Orchestra plus a new version of Concert in F transcribed by Alessandro Celardi, the conductor of the Ferentino Wind Orchestra.
American music, intended as music with strong national peculiarities, is only recent. At the time of the first colonies, the US was a ‘melting pot’, with people of different ethnicity and, of course, different music styles. In the 19th century, on the one hand, there was a European-style classical music – brought by European composers looking for new opportunities or American composers of European-style – on the other hand, there was a popular music with strong traits of rhythms and harmonies – such as those of ‘minstrel shows’, or ‘gospels’, or ‘spirituals’ – linked to the African American culture, which will give birth to a new genre: jazz.
At the beginning of the 20th century, brilliant personalities, who will give life to American music, at last start to emerge: from Scott Joplin to Edward MacDowell, from Charles Ives to Edgard Varese, from Aaron Copland to Leonard Bernstein, just to name but a few. The great contribution of these composers was that of synthesizing, each one in his personal style, the heterogeneity of American culture, giving birth to American music.
Young George Gershwin was a corner boy, like his peers, in a city like New York, a city leaning towards an exciting future: a dynamic city, which didn’t know breaks in its hectic daily vitality, and which modeled in a crucial way the composer’s personality.
Son of Russian Jewish emigrants, Gershwin had the opportunity of having a brother, Ira, to whom was given a piano. Since when the instrument entered Gershowitz's house, George, only sixteen by the time, never stopped to play it, even without any particular music knowledge, demonstrating an extraordinary talent.
In subsequent years, in order to earn a living, Gershwin joined as a ‘song plugger’ ( a pianist that played new songs to promote the sale of scores) the group of musicians that usually met at the ‘Tin Pan Alley 8’ (because of the noise of pianos playing simultaneously, similar to the percussion on a tin pan), the street of New York where all the great publishing houses of music gathered and edited the successes of pop music of that age. Pianists' purpose was that of play unceasingly those songs for promotional. From performer of other composers' music to performer of his own music it was but a short step. So, just from Tin Pan Alley, Gershwin began a wonderful climb to success that in short times made him one of the most celebrated, well known and performed American composers.
However, his personality tended to make him never fully satisfied of his works: despite the success, he felt not quite prepared, especially in composing skills. For example, when Paul Whiteman commissioned him a piece for piano and big band, which had to be a link between classical music and jazz (genre on the rise in the roaring twenties thanks to these great musical groups), Gershwin hesitated to put his ideas on paper. This worried Whiteman too who, in the meantime, had announced with emphasis the gala-concerto, defining it as an «experiment of modern music». In fact, the names of the greatest composers appeared on the program: Victor Herbert and George Gershwin, protagonists of the evolution of modern music and jazz music. Only when his brother Ira showed him the newspaper with the date of the concert in the prestigious ‘Aeolian Hall’ of New York, Gershwin was forced in short times to write the score of ‘Rhapsody in blue, for big band and piano’. On the 12th of February 1924, in the presence of the greatest composers and musicians of the time like Stravinskij, Rachmaninov and Stokowski, the premiere took place. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ had the same disruptive effect of Stravinskij’s ‘Sacre du Printemps’ in 1913, drawing a new course in American music history. «I listened to it like some sort of polychromatic fantasy, an American musical kaleidoscope, with our mixture of races, our incomparable national spirit, our ‘blues’, our metropolitan square…», Gershwin said.
In the wake of great success, expanded also thanks to the radio, the revolutionary means of communication that changed the history of the world in the 20’, Gershwin the next year was commissioned by the New York Symphony Orchestra’s conductor, Walter Damrosch, to write a concerto for piano and orchestra. This was an important acknowledgment, but also an occasion to demonstrate of being a complete composer, highlighting his abilities as an orchestrator (the same that didn’t happen with ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, orchestrated by Ferde Grofè, arranger of Whiteman).
On the 3rd of December 1925, at the Carnegie Hall in New York, Gershwin himself played his ‘Concerto in F’ (that should have been entitled ‘New York Concerto’ according to the author), under the direction of Damrosch.
Once again, the awareness of one's own limits conditioned Gershwin to such an extent that he decided to engage an orchestra of sixty elements, in order to study the effects of the various timbre combinations, making it play for hours and hours.
His activity as composer, meanwhile, ranged from ‘musicals’ to ‘songs’ of success, reaching also the cinema with his work ‘Porgy and Bess’, of 1935.
In 1930 George and his inseparable brother Ira, author of the lyrics in most of his compositions, went to Hollywood to work to the soundtrack of David Butler’s movie ‘Delicious’.
From a 7-minute musical sequence, in which a character wanders the streets of a noisy New York, Gershwin took the material to compose the 'Second Rhapsody', initially titled 'Rhapsody in Rivets' or 'New York Rhapsody'. Also in this composition, it’s clear the influence of New York life, almost as if to describe the noise of a large city’s streets, and the noise of the riveting of nails (‘Rivets’) in a building site. The premiere took place on the 29th January 1932 at the Boston Symphony Hall and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Sergei Koussevitzkij. Gershwin was so proud of the composition. «Under many aspects, as for orchestration and form, this is my best composition so far», he said. The ‘Second Rhapsody’, however, was not a real success to the public, partially because of the success of the first ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Only in recent times the ‘Second Rhapsody’ has returned to the limelight, taking up the place it deserves in the panorama of the musical world of George Gershwin.
Monaldo Braconi was born in Rome, where he studied at the S.Cecilia Music Conservatoire, graduating with top marks and honors. He has perfectioned with Massimiliano Damerini, Oleg Malov (at the Rimskij-Korsakov Music Conservatoire of Saint Petersburg), Riccardo Brengola (at the Accademia Chigiana of Siena), Sergio Pericaroli e Felix Ayo (at the Accademia Nazionale S.Cecilia of Rome), getting important awards everywhere.
He collaborates with important ensembles such as the “Quartetto della Scala” and soloists like Simonide Braconi, Francesco Bossone, Gabriele Geminiani, and Alessandro Carbonare. He collaborates with important abroad orchestras like the Saint Petersbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Saint Petersburg State Academic Orchestra, the Rostov on Don Philharmonic Orchestra and etc. He has received wide public support everywhere and has registered numerous radio and television recordings, either as soloists either as in an ensemble.
He was invited to collaborate with the Accademia Nazionale S.Cecilia of Rome and the Accademia Chigiana of Siena as a collaborating pianist.
Alessandro Celardi is primarily dedicated to the educational environment and the wind band music. He conducts, since 2009, the “Orchestra di Fiati Città di Ferentino”, with which has obtained prestigious awards in International Competitions such as Flicorno D’oro in Riva del Garda (IT) and the World Music Contest in Kerkrade (NL), achieving special mentions for his conducting skills. With the OFCF has performed concert during important Festivals and Winds Exhibitions, has recorded CDs and has performed premieres of original wind band compositions. He is called to participate in the juries of band and composition performance competitions, as guest conductor and, as a teacher, in training courses for conductors. He collaborates with the “Corciano Festival” in the preapratory phase of music shows and in the rehearsals of the Festival’s Orchestra. His collaborations, as conductor/composer/arranger, range over different musical environment with artists of national and international fame. During the years he has worked with Antonella Ruggiero, Hamii Stewart, Enzo De Caro, Vanessa Gravina, Raffaello Simeoni, Ensemble Micrologus, Musica Nuda (Ferruccio Spinetti and Petra Magoni), Oblivion, Tosca, Gabriele Mirabassi, Andrea Giuffredi, Marco Toro, Katrina Marzella, Moni Ovadia, Silvia Mezzanotte and many others.
Ferentino Wind Orchestra
The “Associazione Banda Musicale Città di Ferentino” was founded in 1981, and within it the “Orchestra di Fiati Città di Ferentino” was born in 2005, whose mission is to unify the potentials of young musicians in all the territory of Frosinone's province, as well as those of Rome and Latina. During the years, the OFCF has distinguished itself in important national and international competitions by winning prizes that have projected it among the most representative italian formations in the international field. Particularly noteworthy are the results obtained at the World Music Contest in Kerkrade (NL) in 2009 (2nd prize in 3rd division), in 2013 (1st prize in 2nd division, with points 96,17 / 100) and in 2017 (medal of gold and special mention). The OFCF is the italian wind orchestra who has obtained, in three subsequent editions of WMC, results above 90 hundredths. The OFCF performed in many Music Exhibitions, achieving favorable consents in national and international field. The Orchestra has worked with artists of national and international fame, such as Gabriele Mirabassi, Antonella Ruggiero, Jo Conjaerts, Andrea Franceschelli, Teresa Procaccini, Fulvio Creux, Ensemble Micrologus, Raffaello Simeoni, Vanessa Gravina, Musica Nuda, David Brutti, Marco Toro, David Short and many others. The OFCF has recorded CDs for the "International Band Composition Contest" of Corciano and, since 2006, is committed to commissioning new works of original wind band music, such as the pieces of original music for wind band of Antonio D’Antò, Luca Pelosi and Antonio Poce.
The orchestra is followed in the preparation and rehearsal by M° Alessandro Celardi.