By editor, 04/05/2017 - 09:30

The Initiative culminates in The George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, the first scholarly edition of the complete Gershwin works ever published.

SAN LUIS OBISPO (CA) – In collaboration with the University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative, The San Luis Obispo Symphony has been invited to participate in a test performance of the new edition of George Gershwin’s Concerto in F. Already scheduled as a highlight of the Symphony’s Classics in the Cohan season finale on Saturday, May 6th, the new edition will be played by virtuoso pianist and rising star Ji (known widely for his recent Android commercial), accompanied by the Symphony and conducted by Maestro Rei Hotoda. The orchestra will play from a freshly printed score and parts edited by Timothy Freeze (bio available) and completed and tested by the U-M Gershwin Initiative. Tickets for the performance are available at

“The San Luis Obispo Symphony is incredibly honored to work with The University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative to test the new edition of Piano Concerto in F,” said Catherine Lansdowne, Symphony Executive Director. “Gershwin’s music is iconic, an American treasure and known and loved world-wide. It’s exciting to be apart of this historic and important process.”

Many materials for the Gershwins’ works have remained in their original state since their first print, and for the past 60 years, orchestras have performed using scores and parts that are in tatters, full of corrections and cuts. In partnership with the Gershwin family, the U-M Gershwin Initiative is an ongoing, multi-decade scholarly examination of the Gershwins’ music in which researchers from U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, working with peers from across campus and around the world, document and analyze all of the Gershwins’ cultural treasures. Aiming to restore and reinvigorate classics like “’S Wonderful,” “I Got Rhythm,” An American in Paris, and Porgy and Bess, the U-M Gershwin Initiative directs The George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, the first scholarly edition of the complete Gershwin works ever published. It will feature brand new, authoritative and critical musical scores and performance parts for all of the Gershwin works (see attached sheet on the U-M Gershwin Initiative).

There have been two performances, thus far, using the new edition in preliminary stages. The first performance was in the fall of 2016 by the University of Michigan, followed by a performance by The College of Wooster in Ohio. Each performance has resulted in editorial corrections and improvements. The performance by the San Luis Obispo Symphony will be the final review, and written notations by the conductor and musicians will be considered for the final product. Piano Concerto in F is due to be published in 2018.

The Gershwin Initiative Presentation at Cal Poly, Friday, May 5th at 3 p.m., Davidson Music Center, No. 45, Rm. 218 (Open to the General Public) Dr. Timothy Freeze, the editor of the Concerto in F score, and Dr. Jessica Getman, the Managing Editor for the Gershwin Initiative at the University of Michigan, will give a presentation on the scope of the Gershwin Initiative and The George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, on working with the Gershwin families and with Schott Music Publishing, on the process of making a critical score for a complex work like the Concerto in F, and on the Initiative’s plans for publishing the edition. Freeze is an authority on George Gershwin’s piano concerto, as well as on the works of Gustav Mahler and Aaron Copland, and is a Fulbright Scholar. Getman is an alum of the Cal Poly Music Department, and is an oboist, a film musicologist, and an expert in the critical editing of music. Both earned their PhDs from the University of Michigan, and are excited to share the university’s work on the Gershwin’s oeuvre and the Gershwin Critical Edition with the San Luis Obispo community. The presentation is co-sponsored by the Symphony and the Cal Poly Music Department. <>

Symphonic Forays, The Gershwin Initiative Presentation by Editor Tim Freeze, Saturday, May 6th, 7 p.m. in Harman Hall (must have a ticket to Classics in the Cohan season finale) Prior to the start of the concert at 8 p.m., Timothy Freeze, editor of the new edition of Piano Concerto in F, will give a presentation on the history of the piece and the process of producing the new edition. The concerto was commissioned by conductor and director Walter Damrosch of the New York Symphony orchestra, and was written and orchestrated by George Gershwin in 1925. He performed the piece in December of that year at Carnegie Hall.

Classics in the Cohan Season Finale Repertoire (Notes copy write by Alyson McLamore, PhD. Cal Poly) Another icon of American music, Aaron Copland wrote An Outdoor Overture was written in 1938 for high school orchestras and later transcribed for wind band. Many of us know—when we’ve lost our car keys—to go look for whatever jacket we were wearing when we were last driving. The same might be said for Aaron Copland’s An Outdoor Overture: he was hard at work on his frontier-era ballet Billy the Kid when he was commissioned to write an “optimistic” overture or rhapsody for the student orchestra of New York City’s High School of Music and Art (now LaGuardia High School). Copland’s piece would launch a series of “American Music for American Youth.” The head of the school’s music department, Alexander Richter, listened to Copland play on the piano his initial sketch for the commission, and remarked that it had an “open-air quality” to it. That comment inspired the commission’s title—An Outdoor Overture—while it also seems clear that Copland’s concurrent western-themed ballet inspired many of the textures and motifs.

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4 in F minor was written for his patron, Nadezhda von Meck, at a time where his music, marriage and her patronage all intersected. In gratitude for von Meck’s support, he called it “our” symphony and corresponded with only her about the meaning behind the music. While he wrote about fate, melancholy memories and marriage in the piece, his marriage had failed within two months, but the symphony had a happier destiny; a decade later, Tchaikovsky still regarded it as “my best symphonic work.”

About the San Luis Obispo Symphony
The San Luis Obispo Symphony was established in 1954 by a small group of 11 musicians called the Morro Bay Community Orchestra. The SLO Symphony was incorporated in 1961 and, in its 56-year history, has grown significantly to become a leading arts institution in the community with 70 orchestra members, a large Youth Symphony program with six ensembles and a music education program that has eleven school-based programs that have touched more than 16,000 youth.

In 2016-17, the San Luis Obispo Symphony is auditioning five finalists’ conductors during the Classics in the Cohan concert series for the position of Music Director. For further information, please visit

Concert programs are subject to change.