to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
Johnson. This week on our show:
from Mexican American singer Lila Downs ...
question about "Rhapsody in Blue" by composer George Gershwin …
first we're off to see the Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival.
Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival
twenty-seven years, visitors to the Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival in Valparaiso
have gathered to celebrate ruby slippers, rainbows, and yellow brick roads.
This yearly event honors all things linked to the movie "The Wizard of Oz," which came out in nineteen thirty-nine. Faith Lapidus tells us more.
thousands of visitors gathered at the Porter County Expo Center for the Indiana
Wizard of Oz Festival. Even heavy rains did not stop visitors from enjoying the
festival's many events. The great-great-grandson of L. Frank Baum who wrote the
book "The Wizard of Oz" opened the festival activities. Robert Baum attended
the festival to meet people and sign visitors' books and objects.
could shop at the Munchkin Market to buy objects related to all things Oz. Or,
they could meet actors who played Munchkins in the movie. There were even
contests to see who could look the most like characters in "The Wizard of
Oz." There were people dressed like Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly
Lion and the Wicked Witch of the West. Visitors could also see a private
collection of clothing and jewelry once owned by Judy Garland, the actress who
Nelson started the Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival in nineteen eighty-one. At the
time, she owned the Yellow Brick Road Gift Shop and also opened the Oz Fantasy
Museum. She decided to organize a
Wizard of Oz day as a way to have a fun community activity. The event slowly
grew over the years and is now the largest Oz festival in the world.
Nelson says that the story of "The Wizard of Oz" remains popular for several
reasons. She says it is an American story, unlike many fairy tales that came
from Europe. She says the movie also celebrates values that families can enjoy
the main events of the festival this year was a performance by Danny Windsor.
The eighty-three year old actor had a small role as a frightening winged monkey
in "The Wizard of Oz." Later in his career, he met Judy Garland when they
were performing in the same theater in New York City. Mister Windsor says that
people will be watching "The Wizard of Oz" one hundred years from
now. He says the movie celebrates art and life and is full of heart from
beginning to end.
"Rhapsody in Blue"
listener question this week comes from Brazil. Sergio Augusto Ramos dos Santos
wants to know about the famous musical piece called "Rhapsody in Blue" by
Gershwin wrote the piece for jazz band leader
Paul Whiteman. "Rhapsody in Blue" was first performed in nineteen
twenty-four at a concert hall in New York City. The name of the series of songs
played that night was "Experiment in Modern Music." Gershwin's song was
twenty-third in the list of songs in that performance.
twenty-five year old composer had already enjoyed success in his career writing
popular music. But this concert brought him recognition as a classical composer
Gershwin said that the influence for the music came when he was on a train and
began listening to its many noises and rhythms. He said that he suddenly heard
the complete structure from beginning to end of what would become "Rhapsody in
Blue." He explained that the song was about the "melting pot" of
different immigrants in America, its national energy and the madness of its
was first written for a piano player and jazz band, including reed, bass,
rhythm and string instruments. A nineteen forty-two version of the song has a
different combination of musical instruments.
Gershwin continued to write exciting compositions that would help define modern
American music. These include "An American in Paris" and the opera "Porgy and
Bess." He worked with his brother Ira Gershwin on many musical projects. George
Gershwin died of a brain tumor at the age of thirty-eight.
"Rhapsody in Blue" has become one the most
famous American songs in modern history. Since the nineteen eighties, it has
been used in advertisements for United Airlines. The music has also been used
in many movies, including Woody Allen's "Manhattan" and Disney's "Fantasia Two
Thousand." In these movies, "Rhapsody
in Blue" expresses the energy and beauty of New York City.
Mexican-American singer Lila Downs recently released her latest album "Shake
Away." She is probably best known for her song "Burn it Blue." She made it for
the movie "Frida" about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in two thousand two. On
her new record Lila Downs sings in many different styles, both in English as
well as Spanish. Critics say this is her most creative album yet. Barbara Klein
tells us more.
the song "Minimum Wage." It expresses the difficult situation of many
Mexican immigrants who cross the border into the United States to try to find
work. Lila Downs has her own personal link to this border. She was born in
Oaxaca, Mexico to a Mexican mother and an American father. She first began
performing as a child in Mexico. Later, she studied music in college in the
Downs used to perform wearing clothing and hairstyles influenced by Frida
Kahlo. For this album she decided to change her look with new versions of
traditional Mexican clothing. She says she enjoys reinventing herself with her
the song "Perro Negro."
wrote many of the songs on "Shake Away."
But others were written by other musicians. We leave you with Lila
Downs' inventive version of Carlos Santana's song "Black Magic Woman." She
performs the song with Raul Midon.
Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
written and produced by Dana Demange. To read and listen to our programs
online, go to voaspecialenglish.com.
again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special