It’s summertime in Barrie, and this Saturday, the livin’ will be easy.
That’s where conductor Rick Pauze will give the downbeat for an evening of the music of George Gershwin, with the Barrie Concert Band. Rick and his 55 musicians promise nuthin’ but plenty at the Hi-Way Church on Anne Street.
The volunteer band has been in Barrie since 1869 — even before Gershwin’s birth in 1898 — and is the most established band of its kind north of the Golden Horseshoe.
Try to imagine Lennon & McCartney composing film scores, stage shows, operas, and orchestral concert pieces, while Beatlemania was at its zenith, and you have some inkling of what Gershwin was about.
Composer of the Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, the folk opera Porgy and Bess, and individual song hits for Broadway and Hollywood, George packed a lot into only 38 years. Musicologists the world over have acknowledged his success at bridging the gap between the classical world and the pop milieu.
Songs such as I Got Rhythm, Fascinating Rhythm, Strike Up the Band, But Not for Me, and his last song, Love is Here to Stay, remain pop standards to this day, and those who haven’t heard them in for a treat.
The Rhapsody and American in Paris are among those instrumental works comprising the evening’s first act, followed by performances by vocalist Maria Branje, who reveals a special affinity for the music of Gershwin.
“I was very thrilled when Rick asked me to sing,” Branje tells BarrieToday. “Especially knowing it would be an evening of Gershwin. I am a romantic at heart and love the ballads of Gershwin, including the ones I will be performing: Someone to Watch Over Me and Embraceable You."
Branje, who solos with the Skyliners Big Band in Barrie, will then team up with Scott Boyer to perform They Can't take that Away From Me, a number associated with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
“These songs are great memories for me,” she says. “That's when I fell in love with musicals and the great songs from many of Gershwin's movies I used to watch with my parents.”
Pianist Amanda McLeod will also be featured.
Hi-Way Pentecostal Church is located at 50 Anne Street North.
The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with the performance beginning at 7:30.
Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $15.00 for seniors, children under five admitted free.