Was it jazz or classical? That is the question many asked after hearing the premiere of George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F given in 1933.

Audiences will be able to decide that question for themselves when the Glacier Symphony performs the epic piece on the opening of its 33rd concert season on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. and continuing on Sunday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m. at Flathead High Performance Hall in Kalispell.

The masterworks concert is titled “Gershwin and Nielsen” and will feature the young Venezuelan pianist, Gabriela Martinez, performing the Gershwin concerto. The orchestra repertoire will be completed with Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, “Inextinguishable,” and Bernstein’s Overture to Candide.

GSC music director John Zoltek says Gershwin was known for his popular hits and Broadway musicals, including "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Porgy and Bess," thus the audience surprise when he composed a “proper” classical concerto.

“It's important to know that for all their jazzy rhythms, bluesy harmonies, and big Broadway melodies, Gershwin’s most important and beloved concert works were written in the traditional European forms. For instance 'An American in Paris' is really a tone poem for orchestra, and 'Porgy and Bess' is an opera. But the most classical of all Gershwin’s works is the Concerto in F for piano and orchestra, written in the form established by Mozart and Beethoven,” he says, adding that the concerto is written in the traditional three movement form and has immediately recognizable musical Americanisms such as jazzy “cakewalk” rhythms, slow sultry blues, and wide singing Tin Pan Alley melodies."

Tickets for “Gershwin and Nielsen” are available on the web at gscmusic.org or by calling the GSC box office 407-7000 located at 69 N. Main St. in Kalispell. Season tickets and a discount program for new subscribers called "First Timers Half Off" are on sale along with single seats. As with all masterworks concerts youth through grade 12 are admitted free; reserve a youth ticket online or by phone.

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