PIANIST MICHAEL FEINSTEIN brings his musical talents to the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19. (Photo provided)

Michael Feinstein will bring the music of the Great American Songbook to the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts’ main stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Tickets run between $45 and $85 and can be purchased at the Marathon Center box office, 200 W. Main Cross St., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; by phone at 419-423-2787; or online at www.marathoncenterarts.org

Feinstein has built his career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American Songbook to the world. From recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations to his Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, his acclaimed NPR series and concerts spanning the globe — he’s appeared at the White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House — his work as an educator and archivist has cemented him as a formidable musical force.

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Feinstein started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 20 and the widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in 1977. He became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, earning him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Feinstein evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music.

He also has become an esteemed interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. He was named principal pops conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013. Under Feinstein’s leadership, the Pasadena Pops became a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements.

While there is no consensus among critics and music fans as to what songs belong in the Great American Songbook, it encompasses several early 20th century songs and jazz standards.

Feinstein, who founded the Great American Songbook Foundation in 2007, gave his own opinion to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2013: “It is songs that stand the test of time.”

He told the Florida newspaper that newer artists like Billy Joel have written music that can stand up with artists like Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter and others.

The Great American Songbook Foundation is doing its part to educate the musical talent of the future about its storied history through master classes and the annual High School Songbook Academy, an intensive summer program with graduates that went on to record acclaimed albums and appear on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

He also serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

For more information, visit www.michaelfeinstein.com

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