Songwriter exhibit comes to UCF
Critic hopes to bring a ‘sense of history’
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 17:09
On Sept. 7, the UCF Library became host to a prestigious traveling exhibit, A Fine Romance, which focuses on aspects detailed in David Lehman's book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs.
Both the book and the exhibit explore the many Jewish composers who took part in the creation of the Great American Songbook with songs from the movies and Broadway musicals of the early 20th century. Librarian Carole Hinshaw shared her hope for a connection between the exhibit and UCF students.
"We're trying to educate the younger generation about the composers who wrote this popular music," Hinshaw said. "A lot of people might be familiar with the songs but won't know who wrote them. I hope students can connect to this wonderful music and the culture that these people came from."
The exhibit plays host to several well-known composers, such as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George and Ira Gershwin. With pieces from several Broadway musicals, including Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story, as well as World War II songs and music from movies such as Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz, the exhibit allows UCF students to experience the music that at one time exemplified what it meant to be American.
The exhibit was awarded to UCF after going through a grant proposal process, an honor, Hinshaw said.
"Richard Harrison, a colleague of mine, and I wrote up the grant proposal for the exhibit and got it. We are one out of 55 libraries to receive this traveling exhibit, [where] 11 copies are currently going around the country," Hinshaw said.
In order to further immerse students within the exhibit, the library will be playing pieces from the exhibit across the loudspeakers on the second and third floors so that students can literally listen their way through A Fine Romance. Students also can attend two events the library is hosting for the exhibit, a lecture by writer and critic Michael Lasser, as well as a performance by Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer.
Lasser's lecture, to take place on Sept. 27 in library room 223, will be discussing the contributions of several key composers toward music, specifically toward American culture and the evolution of music within America. Lasser explained the "sense of history" he hopes UCF students will recognize after his lecture and within the exhibit.
"I want [students] to understand that the world existed before they were born; it's called a sense of history," Lasser said. "The music that you listen to today could not exist without the people who preceded you, people who were extremely popular in their own time and whose songs millions of us still listen to. If you don't have a sense of history, you are an uneducated person."
The library will also be featuring a second program to unfold Oct. 20 at the same time and room as Lasser's lecture, where the Cantor for Orlando's Congregation of Reform Judaism, Ms. Jacqueline Rawiszer, will be performing a concert of songs in honor of many of the composers featured in the exhibit.
Specialized in Jewish liturgical music and with a strong background in music as a singer in the London cabaret at London's Royal National Theater, Rawiszer will be undertaking her first exhibit performance on Oct. 20 for the general community and UCF populace. Rawiszer said that she feels this exhibit just as important for UCF students as it is for her.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for exposure and an education of a time period culturally and historically within the American musical experience," Rawiszer said. "I think it's important for our community to know how a certain population evolved within our community. It's a generational thing; kids these days would really benefit from knowing that every musical generation leads to the next one. We wouldn't be here today without these composers."
Both events are free to the public, though Hinshaw does insist that students RSVP, as space is limited. The exhibit will be at home within the UCF Library on the second floor for the entire month of September, after which it will be moved to the Broward County Public Library.
The exhibit was created by Nextbook, a Jewish cultural organization and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The national tour was made possible by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, an anonymous donor and Tablet Magazine.