Dreams That You Dare to Dream

The annual Lytle Scholarship Concerts were inaugurated in 1996 to benefit the Preuss School at UC San Diego, a public college prep charter school for grades 6 through 12. The concerts are specific to a composer (e.g., Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt) or to a musical concept or genre (e.g., gospel tunes, tangos, ragtime, Latin jazz). This format has led to some unusual performances, including one in which five jazz pianists performed on five grand pianos arranged in a circle.

The 23rd Lytle concert, “Jewish Music: From Bessarabia to Broadway” carries on the series’ thematic custom by focusing on the evolution of Judaic musical traditions from roots in Russia and Eastern Europe to such early 20th Century practitioners of popular song as George & Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin. The creativity of Jewish emigres flourished predominantly in New York City, particularly in the Bowery, Lower East Side, and Harlem.

American musical theater – indeed, American popular culture as a whole – was transformed by the efforts of Jewish composers, songwriters, and performers. Themes of suffering and hope, and the tensions between the two, combined with a yearning for social justice to fashion a portrait of a people striving to endure and assimilate in their new home. Perhaps no other song of the era encapsulates these aspirations as poignantly as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, written by Harold Arlen and “Yip” Harburg:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true…

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

The programming of the concert reflects the diversity of the Jewish repertoire, from cantorial songs of worship to jazz to classical forms to popular songs of stage and screen. While many of the works performed arose from, or evoke, a specific time or place, their cumulative effect is universal; a celebration of a rich religious and social heritage, and a reminder of just how much immigrants have contributed to our American identity.

Watch Jewish Music – From Bessarabia to Broadway – Lytle Memorial Concert

Jazz Rules the World

Contributed by John Menier

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F. Scott Fitzgerald famously called the 1920s the “Jazz Age,” and recent inventions such as radio and phonograph records helped to spread the popularity of two quintessentially American musical genres, jazz and blues, across the country and beyond our borders. In 1926 a Paris-based music magazine began its review of recorded jazz with the observation that “Jazz truly rules the world,” and a growing number of influential European composers were jazz fans, including Hindemith, Milhaud, Weill, Honegger, and Poulenc. Maurice Ravel spent several happy nights with George Gershwin at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom listening to jazz, a testament to the music’s appeal.

For a time these foreign composers included jazz elements in some of their works, with varying degrees of success, but by the mid-1930s their ardor had cooled as new forms of modernism took hold on the Continent. It was left then to American musicians to continue nurturing the confluence of their native jazz and “serious” music that began in the early 1920s, and they did so brilliantly.

Three of the foremost practitioners of this hybrid form were George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and Aaron Copland. Though they came from different backgrounds and training, and each developed a singular musical personality, they shared an interest in elevating the jazz/classical fusion from a novel experiment to a vibrant art form. They shared another quality, harder to quantify but nevertheless distinctive: their music was unmistakably American, with all that implies.

This characteristic is perhaps most evident in the Gershwin masterpieces on this program, “An American in Paris” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” In both pieces, the jazz/blues influences are on prominent display, as the music alternates in mood from contemplative to nostalgic to swaggering, and from Paris to Harlem. Gershwin insisted that both pieces are examples of sonata form, but whether sonata or tone poem or concerto or potpourri, it’s not important how it’s categorized. What matters is that this is fun music, as full of personality as anything you’re likely to hear.

It’s been said that Duke Ellington embodied the very soul of jazz. Ellington wrote some of the first extended jazz compositions to appear in the concert repertoire, and the two pieces on this program, “Mood Indigo” and “Solitude,” amply demonstrate his versatility and sophistication as a composer. Ellington was also an innovative, idiosyncratic orchestrator, and what became known as the “Ellington Sound” is a constant feature of his music – elusive, hard to define, harder still to imitate, but once heard, unmistakable.

Aaron Copland was a city boy who brought a certain polished urbanity to his work. After extensive studies in Paris Copland initially worked with then-voguish European styles, but gradually his native “Americanism” emerged and he established himself as the premiere American composer of his generation. “Quiet City” is a mood piece, a tone poem in miniature, originally written for a friend’s play. The play failed but the music lives on as a popular concert selection. The influence of jazz and/or blues is perhaps less overt in this haunting work than in the Gershwin and Ellington pieces, but it’s there in the tones and phrasings of the featured trumpet and oboe combined with the dotted rhythms of the string orchestra.

The program is rounded out with an exhilarating premiere work by Asher Tobin Chodos, “Concertino for Two Pianos and Orchestra.” Joining the composer on piano is Cecil Lytle, who also performs on “Mood Indigo,” “Solitude,” and “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Watch: Crossing the rue St. Paul – La Jolla Symphony & Chorus

May News & Highlights

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Featured This Month
Program Highlights
New to Video On-Demand


FEATURED THIS MONTH

Iraq’s Journey


It’s been ten years since the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq. How has the war shaped the country? Where is it headed? In two new programs, experts on the Middle East offer up their insights.

The Iraq War Since 2003: Ten Years of Consequences
Premieres May 6 at 8pm

Iraq’s Journey from Dictatorship to Democracy with Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador, Hamid Al-Bayati

Premieres May 13 at 9pm

More available at www.ucsd.tv/iraq

The Pursuit of Climate Justice


Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson shares her vision of climate justice, which links human rights to science in order to protect vulnerable populations and foster equitable stewardship of the world’s resources.
Climate Justice with Mary Robinson

Is Beer in Your Career?


What are the career opportunities in San Diego’s burgeoning craft brewing industry? In this new Career Channel presentation, job seekers will learn the answers from a panel of experts, including Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch, who converse about why San Diego has become such a nationally renowned region for craft beer production, and where the professional brewing industry is headed.
Is Beer In Your Career?
Premieres May 20 on The Career Channel, powered by UCTV and UC San Diego Extension.

Liszt in the World


This fascinating UCSD-TV documentary follows pianist and UC San Diego Professor Emeritus Cecil Lytle around the world as he investigates the music and long and prolific life of the world’s first international musician, Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.
Liszt in the World
Premieres May 3 at 8pm – and online now!
Watch more Liszt video and read the Lizst in the World production blog.


PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

All programs repeat throughout the month. Visit the Program Schedule on our web site for additional air dates and times.

Health & Medicine

Living for Longevity: The Nutrition Connection

More >>

Science

“Perspectives on Ocean Science”
Genetics and Gray Whale Behavior
More >>

Public Affairs

Global Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Disease with Stanley Maloy and Alan Sweedler –The Silent Spring Series
Transforming Conflict through Nonviolent Coalitions with Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee
More >>

Arts & Music Arts & Music

Murder in the Cathedral – Opera Spotlight
Aida – Stars in the Salon
Aida – Opera Spotlight
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Humanities Humanities

The Poems of Billy Collins — Point Loma Writer’s Symposium By the Sea
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Check out the latest additions to our online video archive

Aida: San Diego Opera Spotlight 2013
CARTA: Is the Human Mind Unique?
More videos and podcasts>>

Pianist Cecil Lytle Presents Beethoven

Renowned pianist and educator Cecile Lytle has been delighting audiences with his annual Rebecca E. Lytle Memorial Scholarship Concerts for 19 years, with proceeds benefiting deserving students from the Preuss School at UC San Diego.

UCSD-TV has been along for the ride since 1998, making the performances by Lytle and his noteworthy guests, spanning 200 years of jazz, popular standards and chamber music, available to audiences on TV and online.

This year’s program features Lytle performing two late signature works by Ludwig van Beethoven: the monumental Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major (“Das Hammerklavier”) and the dramatic Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Beethoven’s final composition for piano.

Watch “Cecil Lytle Presents Beethoven” online now, and take a trip through the Lytle Memorial Scholarship Concerts archive to find even more musical delights.