It is hard to imagine a world without the music of George Gershwin. But, classics such as Rhapsody in Blue, I Got Rhythm or Cuban Overture might not have been written if George Gershwin didn’t attend his friend’s violin recital at the age of 10.
After attending the recital, Gershwin’s passion for music started blossoming and he started playing the piano his parents had recently purchased for his older brother, Ira. After a few years and a number of piano teachers, Gershwin was introduced to Charles Hambitzer, who became his mentor until Hambitzer’s death in 1918. As his mentor, Hambitzer taught Gerswhin classical piano technique and introduced him to the world of European classical music. George also studied with a number of composers in his early and late teens.
With The Gershwin Songbook concert coming up the first weekend in April, I thought George Gershwin’s life would be a perfect example of why exposure to music at a young age is so important. Not only is early exposure important, young musicians need passionate, dedicated teachers and mentors to help them reach their full potential.
As a young fifth-grader in San Antonio, I was first introduced to classical music by a local musician who came to our school twice a week offering free lessons. After starting on violin, I quickly switched to double bass and my passion for music, as did George Gershwin’s, began to thrive. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music, I now have the pleasure of working for the Houston Symphony development department raising money, so that other young musicians can have the same opportunities afforded to me.
As in San Antonio, here in Houston, your own Symphony musicians can also be found visiting local schools, mentoring promising musicians, performing at assisted living centers for long-time music lovers, or sharing the joy of music with elementary students in Jones Hall.
During The Gershwin Songbook concerts April 1st, 2nd and 3rd, we would like to share with you some imaginative, amusing and funny thank-you letters we’ve received from third-graders who recently attended a Symphony Detectives concert (a few of them are in this post!) Please stop by our Annual Fund table in the lobby by the Symphony Store and see for yourself why Music Matters!
Also, with a gift of $50 or more that weekend, you will receive a complimentary CD that features the Houston Symphony performing three great Gershwin classics.