Shelly Berg Performs at Three All-Gershwin Concerts, and Country Music Association’s Award Show

November 10, 2011 — Coral Gables, FL — Shelly Berg, dean of the Frost School of Music, performed this fall as a guest artist at four major music events. First, as piano soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, second in a two-piano concert at Festival Miami with Frost faculty artist Santiago Rodriguez, and then as a guest artist at Jazz Meets Gershwin hosted by Michael Feinstein and presented by Jazz Roots, Festival Miami and the Adrienne Arsht Center. He also performed on the Country Music Association awards show televised on ABC.

Berg was a featured soloist on an all-Gershwin program with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) at Cadogan Hall in London on September 30, 2011. The concert was sold out. He performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (with expanded jazz trio cadenzas), and Gershwin’s popular “I’ve Got Rhythm” Variations. He also recorded for two days prior with the RPO at AIR Studios and Henry Wood Hall in London. Jose Serebrier conducted the live concert and the recording sessions. A CD will be released in the future.
Read the concert review by Louis Archer.

Berg also performed an all-Gershwin two-piano program at Festival Miami on October 23 with faculty piano artist Santiago Rodriguez. Also sold out, the concert was presented at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus. The program featured Gershwin’s Cuban Overture (with percussion), a rarely heard 1926 orchestration of Rhapsody in Blue for two pianos and chamber ensemble, as well as Percy Grainger’s dramatic Variations on “Porgy and Bess.” Additional highlights included Gershwin’s own two-piano orchestrations of Three Preludes and “I’ve Got Rhythm” Variations, plus arrangements for two pianos by faculty Paul Posnak of favorite Gershwin songs. Read the South Florida Classical Review review by Larry Budmen.

Berg was also a featured guest artist at an all-Gershwin extravaganza concert at the Adrienne Arsht Center on November 4, 2011, entitled Jazz Meets Gershwin, featuring the Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra with its new artistic director Terence Blanchard, and guest artists Michael Feinstein, Denyce Graves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Monica Mancini, and Mark O’Connor. Frost faculty, Scott Flavin, conducted the concert. Festival Miami, Jazz Roots, and the Adrienne Arsht Center presented it collaboratively. The concert was funded in part by the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation and UM trustee and business leader Adrienne Arsht.

Then, Shelly Berg traveled to Nashville to perform on the nationally televised live Country Music Association (CMA) annual award show on November 9 on ABC, as a guest artist with the Zac Brown Band. Southern rock legend Greg Allman and saxophonist Tom Scott were also guest artists. The Zac Brown Band was nominated for five CMA awards this year. The group performed “Georgia on My Mind,” and Berg was featured on camera during an improvised solo.

Zac Brown’s first hit, “Chicken Fried,” catapulted him to the top of the country charts. Shelly Berg met Zac Brown and his band at a music festival a few years ago and their paths continue to cross professionally. Early in Berg’s music career, he recorded with several prominent country artists of the day including Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee. Today he encourages young singer-songwriters in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program at the Frost School of Music to write for the country music genre.

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Shelly Berg at piano, recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at AIR Recording Studios, Jose Serebrier, conductor.