“From Moscow to Hollywood, Songs from the Movies” Marks End Of RCAS Season

 
The Russian Chamber Art Society completed its exciting season with an imaginative concert at the Austrian Embassy, “From Moscow to Hollywood, Songs from the Movies,” hearkening back to a previous century when the cross cultural pollination between Russia and America germinated into a film music tradition that was nourished by the richness of both cultures. 
 
With passion and lyricism, Baritone Timothy Mix, Soprano Carmen Balthrop and pianist Genadi Zagor, performed a selection of songs and piano music by Russian composers as well as by American composers, many of whom were of Russian ancestry, who were prolific during their time in the creation of film scores and tunes to which many in the audience yearned to sing along.
 
In his prepared program notes, the public relations representative of the RCAS, Robert Selden, described the fascinating mutually rewarding influence that American and Russian composers had on each other in creating the Hollywood sound and its counterpart in Russian movies. Selden explained that the two year sojourn in 1930 by Russian movie director Grigori Aleksandrov (with Sergei Eisenstein) to the United States to learn the secret of Hollywood’s success, led to his directing “The Jolly Fellows” with “jazz-influenced music by Isaac Dunayevsky.” Conversely, such composers as Nicholas Brodszky emigrated to the US and wrote the Academy Award-nominated tune “Be My Love,” and the Russian born composer Irving Berlin became part of the American musical fabric, writing some of the most famous American songs of popular music.
 
It was Dunayevsky’s “The Jolly Fellows” which was the inspiration for pianist Genadi Zagor, who performed his virtuosic improvisation on the song, “A Merry Song Makes My Heart Light and Jolly.” He continued throughout the program with his own brilliant improvisational compositions based on Andrey Petrov’s “Walking the Streets of Moscow,” Harold Arlen’s “Wizard of Oz,” and Vasily Agapkin’s “The Cranes are Flying.”
 
While “Be My Love” was made famous by Mario Lanza, it was Timothy Mix ‘s beautiful rendition of that song in his rich baritone voice that captured the hearts of the audience. With equal interpretive gifts, he performed the classic tune “As Time Goes By” from the film Casablanca by Herman Hupfeld. And his delivery of Andrey Petrov’s “No Bad Weather in Nature,” in impeccable Russian was exquisite.
 
Soprano Carmen Balthrop was flawless in both her Russian and English interpretations. Particularly in the timeless tunes by George Gershwin, whose Russian birth name was Gershowitz, Balthrop performed with quintessential perfection. In the back-and-forth musical dialogue of Gershwin’s “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” Balthrop and Mix captured the humor and nuanced language of the flirtatious duet with their wonderful acting abilities.
 
In the selection from what is now widely regarded as one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century, “Porgy and Bess,” the musical trio powerhouse of Zagor, Balthrop and Mix charmed the audience in their final encore which was welcomed with a standing ovation.
 
This program, under the aegis of the Russian Chamber Art Society and the artistic direction of Vera Danchenko-Stern is another manifestation of the organization’s dedication to the belief that through the arts the political and cultural boundaries that separate nations and peoples throughout the world can always be transcended to create a more peaceful world.

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