February 8th, 20.00, Christ Church, Waterford

Internationally renowned pianist Finghin Collins will team up with Waterford Concert Orchestra (WCO) this February to play the very popular Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.

Since taking first prize at the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Vevey, Switzerland in 1999, pianist Finghin Collins enjoys a flourishing career that embraces Ireland, Europe, the United States and Asia. He also makes a major contribution to musical life at home in Ireland, where he is Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival and Music for Galway. Collins has just completed a fascinating project as the first ever Associate Artist of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin. As part of this three-year tenure, he performed the complete Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos with the orchestra, having directed most of them from the keyboard.

Collins has performed with such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Rhapsody in Blue The creation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was very much down to the dance band leader Paul Whiteman. Whiteman specialised in what was called orchestrated jazz and was determined to show that jazz deserved recognition as a ‘new movement in the world’s art music’. To this end he presented a concert entitled ‘An Experiment in Modern Music’ which would showcase non-improvised jazz. He also had a ‘distinguished committee’ in attendance at the performance to pass comment on the experiment. This committee included no lesser figures than Sergey Rachmaninov, Jascha Heifetz and Igor Stravinsky.

Though Whiteman has briefly discussed a concerto style piece nothing was formally agreed or arranged. Gershwin read a notice of his involvement in a newspaper article and had to complete the entire project within a month. Though a renowned composer Gershwin was not an accomplished orchestrator at that time and handed that task to Whietman’s orchestrator Ferde Grofé.

The first performance of Rhapsody in Blue in Waterford, will take place in Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford on February 8th at 8pm under the baton of Kevin O’Carroll. WCO led by Teresa Costello will also perform the toe tapping Danzon No.2 by Artruro Marquez. Entitled from Latin to Broadway the concert will explore Latin American sounds influence on jazz performers such as Louis Armstrong and composers such as Gershwin and Cole Porter both of whom worked as songsters in Tin Pan Alley and broadway. Latin influences continued to be heard on Broadway through the work of Leonard Bernstein and extracts from his West Side Story are also included in the programme.

Tickets (€20, €18) for this concert are available from Garter Lane box office (051 855038) or online at Some tickets will also be available at the door. With seating not reserved early attendance is recommended.

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