For the 18th annual Oregon Festival of American Music, we travel back into the annals of the Great American Songbook to celebrate as many of our favorite "moments" in the form’s history as we can pack into 17 days of concerts, musical theatre, talks, and films. Along the journey we’ll revisit groundbreaking concerts, important musicals, a few sustained projects, and the careers of more than a few of the artists who made it happen. The itinerary of our journey is a personal one, and we’re sure we won’t touch upon everyone’s favorite “great moment” (we had to leave out many of our own favorites!), but it will be an intriguing and fun-packed journey filled with fabulous music!.
Festival Jazz Director Ken Peplowski, welcomes guest artists Maria Jette, Clairdee, Ian Whitcomb, Shirley Andress, Bill Hulings, Michael Stone, Byron Stripling, Bucky Pizzarelli, Bill Mays, Derek Smith, Dan Barrett, Frank Vignola, Chuck Redd, Derek Smith, among others, for 17 days of concerts, recitals, films, talks, youth and senior music camps. The songwriters, composers, jazzmen and bandleaders the festival will focus on include George & Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Billy Holiday, Jerome Kern, Arthur Freed & Nacio Herb Brown, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman.
The festival’s gala opening concert on July 29th revisits band leader Paul Whiteman’s famed concert “An Experiment In Modern Music”, held at Aeolian Hall in New York in late February 1924, which featured the premier performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blues. Our grand finale concert on August 8th re-creates the great moments in John Hammond’s groundbreaking concerts in December 1938 and 1939 at Carnegie Hall, “From Spirituals To Swing”.
This festival’s two fully-staged, all-new musical productions will be Rodgers & Hart’s 1943 revival of their hit musical comedy A CONNECTICUT YANKEE (directed by Judith Roberts, Vicki Brabham music director) and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1943 masterpiece, OKLAHOMA! (directed by Richard Jessup, Robert Ashens music director).