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Tilles pays tribute to Gershwins and art

The music of George and Ira Gershwin will

The music of George and Ira Gershwin will be honored in "Here to Stay: The Gershwin Experience." Credit: Gershwin Estate

There's more to the title "Here to Stay" than an allusion to the Gershwin standard from the 1938 movie "The Goldwyn Follies."

"It's very clear

Our love is here to stay

Not for a year

But ever and a day."

"Here to Stay" also refers to the concert subtitled "The Gershwin Experience" at Tilles Center tomorrow night.

But beyond an abiding romance, there's a deeper meaning, says Tilles director Elliott Sroka: "The arts are here to stay."

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That's a heartening message for the orchestra Sroka hired for the evening. The Long Island Philharmonic, which has forgone three subscription concert seasons to get its finances in order, will play its first major spring concert since 2010. (It plays the annual New Year's Eve celebration at Tilles, plus several summer concerts outdoors.)

"We had them in mind from the start," Sroka says.


"Here to Stay" originated with the Gershwin estate, which recruited Marvin Hamlisch, who died last year. Enhanced by clips from Gershwin-scored movies and concert footage, the "Experience" has toured nationally for three years. Local orchestras provide live accompaniment. Solo pianist Kevin Cole now takes Hamlisch's part in the concert, which also features soprano Sylvia McNair and tap dancer-vocalist Ryan VanDenBoom. Philharmonic music director David Stewart Wiley conducts Saturday night.

"I'm in awe of this collaboration," says Wiley, who adds that it's not just the usual George-and-Ira suspects you'll hear. Wiley rates Gershwin's Concert in F "right up there with 'Rhapsody in Blue.' And 'Slap That Bass' -- well, it makes for an incredibly diverse evening."

Sroka credits Todd Gershwin, great-nephew of brothers George and Ira, with launching "Here to Stay" and Hamlisch with putting it together musically.

"The archival video stuff puts you right there with the Gershwins," says Sroka. "It's a thrill to see an orchestra playing 'Love Is Here to Stay' live while Oscar Levant conducts on the big screen."


It's the other part of the message, however, that really encourages Sroka. The concert is a Tilles Center endowment fundraiser, as well as a way to honor David Steinberg, retiring president of Long Island University, of which Tilles and the Post campus are a part. Through tickets sales and "substantial private donations," Sroka says, "we've raised $600,000. And we're delighted to showcase the Philharmonic and send a message that we're determined to preserve arts on Long Island."

Is it very clear?

Our arts are here to stay

Not for a year

But ever and a day.

Meanwhile, the Philharmonic's 34th annual gala, "Mozart in the Castle," will be Wednesday at Oheka Castle in Huntington. The black-tie affair with dinner, dancing and cocktails, starts at 6:30.

WHAT "Here to Stay: The Gershwin Experience"

WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Tilles Center, LIU Post campus, Brookville

TICKETS $45-$100;, 516-299-3100

WHAT "Mozart in the Castle"

WHEN|WHERE 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oheka Castle, Huntington

TICKETS $500 and up;, 631-293-2223

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