Three Cal Poly music ensembles will perform various arrangements from composer George Gershwin at the Open House Concert Saturday, April 22.

The Cal Poly Symphony, University Jazz Band and Cal Poly Wind Ensemble will pay tribute to the songwriter and composer at 8 p.m. in Harman Hall at the Performing Arts Center.

Bill Johnson, director of the band program and the wind ensemble, said the student-musicians will show off their talents and hard work, in keeping with this year’s Open House theme, “Cal Poly: Choice of Champions.”

“We’ve been working really hard,” said Johnson.

Johnson says Gershwin is an interesting choice because he “managed to take sounds of Broadway, jazz and classical music and merge them together.” He added, “The very moment you hear it, you know it’s him.”

The music department faced the challenge of finding a theme for this year’s concert that is equally as satisfying as last year’s “Fantasia,” based on the Disney film.

“The challenge is to do something that’s highly educational to the students and entertaining to Open House participants,” Johnson said.

The Wind Ensemble, comprised of nearly 60 students and conducted by Johnson, will perform three of Gershwin’s most-loved pieces, “An American in Paris,” “Porgy and Bess” and “Rhapsody in Blue,” with piano soloist and Music Department Chair, W. Terrance Spiller.

The 17-student University Jazz Band No. 1, directed by Paul Rinzler, will also play popular pieces by Gershwin including, “I Got Rhythm,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “The Man I Love.”

“We’re rehearsing and everything is coming along great,” said Rinzler, who leads four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, a piano, a bass, drums and percussion. He says the composer was an excellent choice for his ensemble because “all jazz musicians are expected to be able to play Gershwin.”

David Arrivee, conductor of the Cal Poly Symphony, which is composed of 65 students, also believes the musicians will perform Gershwin well.

“It’s actually perfect because he wrote stuff specifically for the orchestra and jazz instruments,” Arrivee said. “I think it will show us at our best.”

The orchestra will perform two songs from “Porgy and Bess,” “Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now” in addition to the rhythmic, “Cuban Overture.”

The diverse arrangements the Cal Poly Symphony will perform gives them a chance to show a different side of their talents.

“People can think the symphony orchestra is really serious,” Arrivee said. “This just goes to show you can have fun doing it.”

Arrivee expects the show to be entertaining to all, but especially enticing to perspective students.

“I think they’ll leave with more than just having seen us play,” he said.

Tickets to the Open House Concert are $8 to $18 and can be bought at the Performing Arts Ticket Office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

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