Tulsa library to celebrate Jewish-American songwriters
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
7/20/11 at 6:24 AM
A good deal of what we now call "The Great American Songbook" would probably not exist if it hadn't been for Jewish families immigrating to this country around the turn of the 20th century.
Tulsa's Central Library will spend the next four weeks celebrating the work of some of America's finest songwriters with the exhibit "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs," opening Wednesday at the library, Fourth Street and Denver Avenue.
The exhibit - curated by David Lehman and developed by Nextbook Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture and ideas, and the American Library Association Public Programs Office - focuses on the period from 1910 to 1965.
It tells the story of such Jewish-American composers as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, George Gershwin and others. Their work on Broadway and in the movies revolutionized American popular music and created such indelible shows as "Annie, Get Your Gun," "Oklahoma!" and "Porgy and Bess," which in turn spawned hundreds of pop standards.
The Tulsa City-County Library has three major events planned in conjunction with the exhibit, which will be on display through Aug. 26.
"Act One: Grand Opening" will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on the Central Library's second floor. In addition to viewing the exhibit, visitors will be able to see a selection of items on Jewish cantorial music from the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, listen to music from pianist Sonny Gray, and hear a talk on the roots of Jewish music by Kari Seigel-Eglash, cantor for Temple Israel.
"Act Two: The Great 'Oklahoma!' Lunchtime Sing-Along," will be at 12:10 p.m. July 27 in the Central Library Aaronson Auditorium. It will feature performers from Discoveryland's award-winning production of "Oklahoma!" performing selections from the show. There will also be a drawing for two tickets to a Discoveryland performance.
"Act Three: Rebecca Ungerman, Jazz Singer" at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at Central Library's Aaronson Auditorium, will be an evening of jazz and conversation with vocalist Ungerman, who will perform some of the songs highlighted in the exhibit and share stories about the songs' writers.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at 918-549-7323 or go online at tulsaworld.com/library
Original Print Headline: Library to salute songwriters
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
The work of Jewish-American composers on Broadway and in movies such as Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" has spawned hundreds of pop standards. The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization / Courtesy