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Something New From Gershwin Makes Surprise Premiere at RPO

Rochester, NY – About 25 years ago, a forgotten manuscript of George and Ira Gershwin’s 1933 musical, Pardon My English, was rediscovered in a Warner Brothers warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey.  On Sunday, October 26, at 2:00 pm in the Eastman Theatre, Jeff Tyzik and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a never-before heard arrangement of the overture to that musical by well-known Gershwin orchestrator and arranger Don Rose on “Masters of American Musicals,” the Casual Sunday Matinee season opener.  In addition, a new Don Rose arrangement of the overture to the 1930 musical Fine and Dandy, written by Kay Swift, also will have its premiere.  The youthful 75 year-old Mr. Rose plans to be in attendance at the 12:30 “Bagels with Jeff” at Miller Center Atrium, free to ticketholders.

Pardon My English – about a German speakeasy operator who becomes an upper-crust British nobleman whenever he’s hit on the head – had a short run on Broadway in 1933 and then faded from view until the fateful rediscovery in 1982.  Rose arranged this overture based on the manuscripts and a one-page sketch in George Gershwin’s own hand.

Kay Swift (1897-1993) was the first woman to write the complete score to a Broadway musical – the 1930 hit show Fine and Dandy, part musical comedy, part vaudeville, and part social satire.  Rose’s overture includes the title tune, a couple of “killer ballads” – according to Rose himself – and a novelty tune, “Let’s Go Eat Worms in the Garden.”  Trained as a classical musician, Kay Swift first tried her hand at popular music at the suggestion of George Gershwin, whom she met in 1925 and with whom she had an intensely close relationship until his death in 1937. 

In addition to the Gershwin and Swift works, the RPO will perform Jeff Tyzik’s own medley of works by George M. Cohan, selections from Broadway favorites My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, and The Music Man, and Irving Berlin’s charming “A Couple of Swells,” made famous by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in Easter Parade.

Don Rose’s colorful and inventive symphonic creations have been played and recorded by the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, and many others.  His first recording for Columbia Masterworks, Gershwin on Broadway, garnered two industry awards and was the inspiration for Woody Allen’s classic film, Manhattan.  Active in diverse fields, Don Rose was the recipient of a 1987 New York Drama Desk Award.

General admission tickets are $15; $12 for seniors, students, subscribers and donors, available online 24/7 at; by phone (454-2100); in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply. 

The Casual Sunday Matinee Series is sponsored by Rochester Magazine and the University of Rochester Medical Center; Jeff Tyzik’s appearance is made possible by Friends of Jeff.  Bagels and coffee are generously provided by Bruegger’s Bakeries.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.