RCAS Presents “From Moscow to Hollywood: Songs from the Movies,” April 17

Irving Berlin. . .George Gershwin. . .Isaak Dunayevsky?

Though generally unknown in America, Dunayevsky – two years younger than Gershwin – wrote songs that were as popular in the Soviet Union as Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” from the 1930 musical and 1943 film “Girl Crazy,” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” sung on roller skates by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1937 film “Shall We Dance.”

Those two Gershwin numbers and two of Dunayevsky’s songs, written for the 1930s Soviet films “Jolly Fellows” and “The Children of Captain Grant,” will be performed in Washington at the fourth and final concert of the Russian Chamber Art Society’s 2014-15 season, “From Moscow to Hollywood: Songs from the Movies.”  The concert will take place on Friday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy of Austria, 3524 International Court NW.

The performers are soprano Carmen Balthrop, a professor of voice at the University of Maryland who has sung at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and other companies in the U.S. and Europe; Finnish American baritone Timothy Mix, a graduate of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with the late John Shirley-Quirk; and pianist Genadi Zagor, a graduate of the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in his native Krasnodar, who went on to study at the Moscow State Conservatory, Indiana University, and Michigan State University.

Also on the program are songs written for Soviet movie musicals by Isaac Schwartz, Alexander Zatsepin, Alexandra Pahmutova, Andrey Petrov, and Mikael Tariverdiev, interspersed with Hollywood hits, some by composers – like Gershwin – of Russian ancestry. (The second half opens with Mix, who played Sharpless in last fall’s Lyric Opera Baltimore production of “Madama Butterfly,” singing “From Russia with Love,”by English composer John Barry.)

Uniquely dedicated to the performance of Russian vocal works, the nonprofit Russian Chamber Art Society has been presenting Washington-area concerts since 2005.  RCAS’s founder and artistic director is pianist and Russian diction coach Vera Danchenko-Stern, who has taught “Singing in Russian” at the Peabody Conservatory for more than 20 years.  A graduate of Moscow’s Gnessin Institute of Music, she was a faculty artist there and at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.Tickets for “From Moscow to Hollywood,” which include dessert and a wine reception, are $50. To purchase tickets, visit thercas.com.

Tickets for “From Moscow to Hollywood,” which include dessert and a wine reception, are $50. To purchase tickets, visit thercas.com.

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