It’s only fitting to ask who could ask for anything more as the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra concludes its 82nd season with an all-Gerswhin performance.

Under the direction of Maestro Istvan Jaray, the orchestra will strike up the band at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the campus of Pitt-Johnstown in Richland Township.

The concert, titled “An All Gershwin Program,” includes many of George Gershwin’s most well-known and best-loved melodies, starting with “Strike Up the Band.”

The bright spot of the concert will feature Patricia Prattis Jennings, retired principal keyboard player of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, who will perform the piano solo for “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Jaray is delighted to have Jennings as guest soloist. It has been something he has tried to arrange for years.

“We tried to have her come, but only since her retirement from the Pittsburgh Symphony were we able to make dates match,” Jaray said.

“Her job with the Pittsburgh Symphony is quite an achievement, but it also restricted her availability to play elsewhere. It’s much like being a doctor, because she was on call all the time.”

Jennings is one of only four native Pittsburghers in the Pittsburgh Symphony.

As orchestra keyboardist, Jennings has not only played within the orchestra, but she also has accompanied many of the music world’s most distinguished instrumental and vocal soloists in rehearsals with conductors.

Jennings has performed “Rhapsody” with Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, with the Baltimore, Pacific, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Wheeling, Youngstown and Butler symphonies, the Erie Philharmonic and Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Symphonic Band.

“My relationship with her goes back to my days at Carnegie Mellon in the late 1970s and early ’80s,” Jaray said. “She is a brilliant musician.”

While Jennings never performed as a soloist with the Johnstown Symphony, she has been a guest artist, playing the harpsichord with the presentation of “Messiah” in 2010 and 2011.

Jaray said he can think of no better way to “celebrate the joyous ending of a successful season” than featuring America’s most celebrated composers.

“Gerswhin’s music is loved worldwide and recognized as America’s best,” he said.

“Jazz is the one kind of music that can be called American and only American in origin. It opened the doors to the many kinds of music that followed.”

Also featured in the concert will be local vocalist Adia Dobbins, singing several of Gershwin’s popular tunes. 

Dobbins is a 1995 graduate of Richland Senior High School. She attended the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where she earned a bachelor of music education degree in jazz voice and general music.

The concert brimming with some of Gerswhin’s best-known works with Dobbins performing several classics.

She will sing selections from Gershwin’s opera, “Porgy and Bess,” as well as the memorable “I Got Rhythm.”

“With the variations of piano, vocals and the orchestra, it promises to be an enormously exciting evening,” Jaray said.

Information: 535-6738.

Concert

What: “An All Gershwin Program” by Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Tickets: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.johnstownsymphony.org.

Cost: $30 and $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and $10 for students.

 

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