While browsing the Manitou Messenger archives, I came across an interesting article from March 12, 1965 entiteld Pop Concert Features ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ The article is essentially an advertisement for a cabaret-style concert performed by the St. Olaf Band, Chamber Band, and several soloists from a then upcoming performance of the musical Camelot. According to this article, St. Olaf put on an annual concert of pop music which leads me to ask the question: what happened to it? Surely this event would have been popular among students within and outside the music department, by definition it surely was. The highlight of the concert during this year was a performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The piece was performed during the second half of the evening, in which the audience members sitting at tables with refreshments would switch places with audience members sitting in the bleachers. The final section of the concert was a performance from the Manitou Singers featuring The March of the Siamese Children from the musical The King and I.
St. Olaf’s Halvorson Music Library contains numerous copies of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on vinyl records. I believe that this would be a great contribution to our museum exhibit. George Gershwin’s music was hugely influential as he was a central figure in the United States who combined the realms of jazz and classical art music in ways that provoked many to reconsider what they consider the boundaries of these two musical genres. It interesting to see how St. Olaf decided to feature this work during a pop music concert, clearly taking a strong stance that it does not belong in the typical art music world that St. Olaf has built its traditions on. Not that I necessarily agree with this decision, but I felt it was an important fact to point out. Although, any opportunity to perform Rhapsody in Blue is an opportunity worth taking, right?!
original article: http://stolaf.eastview.com/search/udb/doc?art=0&id=46103667&hl=Rhapsody