Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Antonio Vivaldi
Costume Design: Lisa Choules
Lighting Design: Kirk Bookman
In 1937, George Gershwin asked George Balanchine to come to Hollywood to work with him on Samuel Goldwyn’s Follies. Tragically, Gershwin was felled by a brain tumor before he completed the ballet music for the film. Thirty-three years later, Balanchine choreographed Who Cares? to 16 songs Gershwin composed between 1924 and 1931. Hershy Kay’s orchestrations draw extensively on Gershwin’s own piano arrangements of his songs. Balanchine used the songs not to evoke any particular era but as a way to portray an exuberance that is both broadly American and charged with the distinctive energy of Manhattan.
George Gershwin (1898-1937) was an American composer and pianist whose first success was the song Swanee in 1919. After Rhapsody in Blue was commissioned in 1924 by Paul Whiteman, Gershwin was taken seriously as a composer. In the 20’s and 30’s he wrote a series of successful musicals and film scores as well as An American in Paris (1928) and the folk opera Porgy and Bess (1934-1935). From 1924 his brother Ira Gershwin wrote nearly all of the lyrics to his vocal music. Gershwin also wrote in the classical idiom, including the Piano Concerto in F Major, and a set of preludes for solo piano.
Hershy Kay (1919-1981) established himself as a preeminent orchestrator of musicals with Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town in 1944. His works for ballet include Cakewalk, The Clowns, Western Symphony, The Concert, Stars and Stripes, Who Cares?, and Union Jack; his works for musical theater include Peter Pan, Once Upon a Mattress, Candide, A Chorus Line, Evita, and Barnum. A composer in his own right, Hershy Kay also reconstructed Louis Moreau Gottschalk’sGrande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, which later became the Balanchine ballet Tarantella. Mr. Kay’s work also includes a children’s record, Mother Goose.
–from The George Balanchine Trust Repertory Notes
World Premiere: February 5, 1970 by the New York City Ballet,
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, New York City
Kansas City Ballet Premiere: May 6, 2010, Lyric Theatre