EXCLUSIVE George Gershwin wrote the 14 minute instrumental “Rhapsody in Blue” in 1924. Always a classical and jazz favorite, the music defines New York. Woody Allen’s movie, “Manhattan,” turned it into a hit record.
Saturday night at 5pm the New York Philharmonic- the entire orchestra, not just a piece of them– will open Clive Davis’s Welcome Back NYC mega concert by doing something never allowed before: they will bookend a medley of the most famous songs about New York with “Rhapsody.” They will open with the first two minutes and end the medley with the final, resounding section of Gershwin’s classic.
When orchestras play “Rhapsody” they agree only to play it in its entirety. This is the first time it’s been broken into pieces. Davis himself had to call the Gershwin Estate, explain the situation, and get their approval. The person who told me this last night was wide-eyed. He couldn’t believe the Gershwins agreed. But no one says no to Clive Davis.
Sandwiched in between the two “Rhapsody” pieces will be Kander & Ebb’s “New York, New York”; the “New York, New York” from “On the Town” (the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down) and Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” People who’ve heard the whole thing say there isn’t a dry eye in the house when this is all played.
Some other Concert gossip: Jennifer Hudson will perform something special that she’s done before maybe once, in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, with the Philharmonic. Cynthia Erivo, who also played Aretha Franklin this year in the “Genius” mini-series, will be singing a non Aretha song. There will not be “dueling Aretha’s.” As Cynthia said to me yesterday, “Certainly not dueling!” She and JHud are friends.
The five hour show will end with a Paul Simon song. I won’t tell you what it is, but it’s meaningful to Clive, who shepherded Simon & Garfunkel through their groundbreaking five year career in the Sixties. Don’t worry, Bruce Springsteen is fine with this. Always a mensch, he’s deferring to his elder.
The show runs from 5pm to 10pm and ends sharply when the clock strikes 10. It’s going to be five jam packed hours!