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There are few stories more remarkable than that of Vernon Duke.

He wrote the landmark show Cabin in the Sky, the beloved jazz standard “Autumn in New York,” and hit songs like “I Can’t Get Started” and “Taking a Chance on Love.” Yet he also led a double life as the classical composer and pianist Vladimir Dukelsky. Only in America!

David Loud, artistic director, host
Noah Racey, stage director & choreographer

Heidi Blickenstaff, vocals
James Clow, vocals
Rebecca Luker, vocals
Erin Mackey, vocals
Matthew Scott, vocals

Kylie Lewallen, Michaeljon Slinger, dancers

Joseph Thalken, piano, conductor
Dave Noland, winds / Sarah Seiver, cello / Bill Ellison, bass / Dave Ratajczak, drums / Additional musicians to be announced

For bios, click Program Notes tab.


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The Apr 6 evening performance is underwritten by The Henry Nias Foundation, courtesy of Dr. Stanley Edelman. The Apr 7 afternoon performance is endowed in memory of Edith R. and James W. Fishel by the Fishel family. The Apr 7 evening performance is underwritten by the Estate of Sanford Goldstein, in memory of Harold W. and Ida L. Goldstein.

Brief Bios

Vladimir Alexandrovich Dukelsky was born in Russia and was of noble blood. When the Revolution broke out, his family fled to Constantinople, where the teenager played piano in cafes. In 1921, they moved to New York, where Dukelsky met George Gershwin. Gershwin, who was trying to break into the classical world, encouraged the young classical composer to try his hand at popular tunes and gave him the name “Vernon Duke.” In the mid-‘20s, Dukelsky lived in Paris, where he wrote music for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe and fell in with Prokofiev, Picasso, Balanchine and Chanel.

But in 1929, Duke returned to the US and soon had his first Broadway show, starring Beatrice Lillie which included the hit, “April in Paris,” with words by E. Y. “Yip” Harburg. More songs in more shows followed, including “What is There to Say” with Ira Gershwin in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, “Autumn in New York” in the revue Thumbs Up and the score to the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky, with lyrics by John La Touche, which introduced “Taking a Chance on Love.” When George Gershwin died while working on the film The Goldwyn Follies, Duke was chosen to finish the score. Dukelsky was also busy, writing symphonies, chamber music, and an oratorio for the New York Philharmonic. Until his death in 1969, Duke remained the composer of choice for such lyricists as Howard Dietz, Johnny Mercer, Ogden Nash and Sammy Cahn. A master of many forms, his sophisticated and idiosyncratic music remains one of the under-celebrated treasures of the American Songbook.


Artistic Director David Loud is currently involved with two critically acclaimed productions of the 2011/12 Broadway season: he is musical supervisor of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and conductor of the incidental music for Death of a Salesman. Last season, he was music director and vocal arranger for The Scottsboro Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim and a sold-out concert of Jerome Kern songs at Merkin Hall. Other Broadway music-directing credits include the original productions of Curtains, Ragtime, A Class Act, Steel Pier and The Look of Love, as well as revivals of She Loves Me, Company, The Boys From Syracuse and Sweeney Todd.

Off-Broadway, Mr. Loud was music director for The Scottsboro Boys and he created the vocal and dance arrangements for Kander and Ebb’s And the World Goes ‘Round, both of which took top Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. He has created arrangements for many headlining artists, including Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Audra McDonald, Rebecca Luker, Karen Ziemba, Andrea McArdle, Paulo Szot, Betty Buckley and Barbara Cook. He made his Lyrics & Lyricists debut in 2011 as artistic director of On a Clear Day: The Musical Vision of Burton Lane.

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