Music. Photos. Videos. Historical commentary. Carmina Burana might be over, but an inter-arts performance featuring each medium returns to the Amphitheater, this time carried out by one individual.
Richard Glazier will perform his one-man musical and historical show “From Broadway to Hollywood” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amp. A renowned Gershwin pianist, performer, documentary filmmaker and storyteller, Glazier’s performance will feature American popular songs from the early 20th century, including “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “Over The Rainbow” and medleys from musicals such as Kiss Me, Kate and My Fair Lady.
He will also provide video footage showing the backstories of these songs and their composers, rare interview footage of the musicians he will honor, home videos from the Gershwin family and news footage from the 1910s, ’20s and ’30s, all airing during the performance.
In this way, his work aims to present classic songs within the historical context of America at that time.
“My goal for this performance is that we celebrate America, celebrate our lineage and our heritage,” he said.
“These songs represent our cultural heritage in a strong sense and mean so much to so many people. Chautauqua also represents our American heritage in a way, and I think that’s a wonderful relationship.”
Glazier has performed at Chautauqua more times than he can remember since 1991, after he won the Young Artist Award from the National Federation of Music Clubs that year. Though he has also performed in nearly every state, he said this is one of his favorite venues.
“Whether it’s a gymnasium, concert hall, prison, hospital — you name it, and I’ve played there,” he said. “But because of the tradition, the history, all the wonderful people that come here and the wonderful cultural events that have happened here, Chautauqua is a very special place.”
He cited numerous individuals who have influenced him and who he met at the Institution, including musician and actor David McCallum and retired journalist Jim Lehrer.
“I met some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life at Chautauqua,” Glazier said.
He recognized that his work is a rare niche within the musical and performance world, but he hopes to see that niche spread and thrive even though the age of the American popular song is long past.
“What I do is very unique,” he said. “Certainly, there are people that lecture and talk about the subject of this music and these songs, but there are few people that perform this music, people that record it into multimedia forms and have it in a seamless one-man show.”
Now 53, Glazier started playing piano when he was 6 years old. At age 12, he was introduced to the music of George and Ira Gershwin and was so inspired that he wrote Ira Gershwin a fan letter. The famed musician then invited him to come to Beverly Hills and play songs for him.
Glazier hopes to engage younger crowds with this music in order to preserve it further into the future, as he is unsure how much longer he will continue touring, partly due to the grueling nature of being on the road. Sharing this music with people, however, keeps him excited about his work.
“Being able to bring some magic to the audience, and receive the love of music back from the audience in a give-and-take kind of thing is the most rewarding part of what I do,” he said. “This music will live forever. It will be alive when we’re gone. It’s timeless.”