Jerome Kern Kicks Off The Art of American Popular Song

Apr 23, 2017

Pond & Senn: Curtain design for Showboat, 1982
Credit Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin TL1999.263.1 / McNay

Make a date with KPAC and KTXI for the next eight Sunday afternoons for The Art of American Popular Song, the reprise of a series produced over a decade ago for KPAC by co-writers and hosts Kathy Couser and James Baker. Each week the program will focus on one of the most important of the songwriters who produced, over a span of 50 years, what is affectionately known as The Great American Songbook. Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Harold Arlen get top honors, with the seventh show picking up additional songs by Vincent Youmans, Vernon Duke, Hugh Martin and others.  But wait, there's more! In parallel with the ongoing exhibition at the McNay - Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre - a brand new volume eight is being added to the original series, this looking at the bridge into the second half century of American popular song, mostly from composers associated with Broadway.

Jody Blake, Curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts at the McNay, but more important to this conversation the curator of the current show at the McNay's Tobin Wing, has assembled an appealing cross-section of the Tobin Collection which takes the viewer through the history and evolution of musical theater. There are costume and set designs which tell a story, not only of the musicals and musical plays themselves, but also of the artists and their artwork essential to the design and execution of the shows

Pianist and conductor Aaron Gandy at Lincoln Center
Credit Aaron Gandy

The confluence of the McNay's show and KPAC's series brings the musical theater alive in ways that are   impossible with a one or the other - visual or audio - approach. Mark your calendar and set aside two hours of your Sunday afternoon to enjoy great music and expert guidance from theater historian Aaron Gandy, along with countless musical guests, some of whom were there to see it happen. Then, make a point of walking the galleries of the McNay for Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre. You won't regret it.

The Art of American Popular Song kicks off Sunday, April 23, at 2 PM on KPAC-San Antonio, KTXI-Ingram, and online at tpr.org with The Art of Jerome Kern. The McNay show will continue to hang through June 18.