Benefit show will `Strike Up the Band'

Concert: Ensembles from Havre de Grace High School will join a musical tribute to George and Ira Gershwin.

May 16, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

The musical and theatrical performance By George! By Ira! By Gershwin!, which honors the lives and talents of George and Ira Gershwin, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Havre de Grace High School auditorium to raise funds for the school's Harris Stadium and the local arts community.

The show will star singer and television personality Carolyn Black-Sotir, pianists Arno Drucker and R. Timothy McReynolds, bassist Thomas Williams and the high school's jazz and marching bands.

Through the Gershwins' musicals - which include Rhapsody in Blue, Porgy and Bess and Strike Up the Band - their rise to stardom is detailed in this performance, using songs and multimedia images to illustrate the legacy of composer George and lyricist Ira.

Black-Sotir, known for her interviews on Comcast Cable, has performed By George! By Ira! By Gershwin! across the country and internationally. She said that she feels the show captures the essence of America in the 1920s and 1930s.

"It's going to be a really classy act," Black-Sotir said. "It's a feast for the ears, the eyes and the soul as well. ... I am amazed and awed by how beautiful the music is."

Black-Sotir will perform a song with the high school jazz band, which director Rick Hauf of Havre de Grace said he is excited about. Hauf said the band is also excited at the prospect of earning funds to fix the deteriorating Harris Stadium.

"The county is paying for the field, but we're trying to raise money for new bleachers, lights, scoreboards," he said. "It's a great way for the community to come out and support that and hear some good music."

The event is being sponsored by the Havre de Grace Arts Commission and Comcast Cable. Most of the money raised will go toward stadium renovations.

Pat Donovan, director of operations and public affairs for Comcast in Harford County, said that when she saw the show performed in Towson, she felt compelled to bring it to Harford.

"It was a beautiful show and a perfect match for us," said Donovan, of Havre de Grace.

Carolyn Foley, a 15-year member of the arts commission, said the main goal of the event is to provide a service for the town, while also brining entertainment to the area.

"We're doing this because [the Harris Stadium project] is at a standstill, and we need it in this area," said Foley, also of Havre de Grace.

Black-Sotir said that at the end of the performance, the 120-member high school marching band will take the stage to perform "Strike Up the Band."

"We're hoping [the event] will set a precedent to have something like this every year," she said. "But first we need to prove that the arts can be a moneymaker."

Tickets for By George! By Ira! By Gershwin! are available at the Havre de Grace Visitor Center, at 800-851-7756 or through the Havre de Grace Arts Commission and are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students.

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