Review: NSO Pops ‘Forever Gershwin’ celebrates composer with fine-tuned performances

The work of George Gershwin took center stage at the Kennedy Center on June 17-18. The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) Pops presented “Forever Gershwin” which celebrated the musical contributions of the composer who left behind a treasure trove of songs.

The night kicked off with Conductor Steven Reineke leading the orchestra in Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” Dominated by Caribbean rhythms and infused with Cuban percussion the song was a pulsating beginning for a night that continued to escalate in brilliance.

The world premiere of Gershwin Perspectives included Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, Jason Moran with a vitual piano tour-de-force, tickling the key with passionate abandon on “Fascinating Rhythm.” Jazz singer José James, in his first Kennedy Center appearance, did a wonderful turn with “Embraceable You.”

After intermission, the music from Gershwin’s most heralded masterpiece was front and center. It is here where the concert reaches a point of complete bliss for Gershwin afficianados as NSO Pops debuted “Porgy & Bess: A Concert of Songs.”

Tony-nominated baritone Norm Lewis and soprano Alicia Hall Moran reprised their lead roles from the recent revival of Porgy & Bess and their pairing was exquisite. Joined by the Heritage Signature Chorale the duo performed many of the most beloved songs, including “Summertime,” “It Aint Necessarily So,” and “A Woman is a Sometime Thing.”

The NSO concluded their 2015–2016 season Pops with a sweeping concert that was made more memorable as it celebrated 85 years since Porgy & Bess’ Broadway premiere and tour to Washington

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