Gala’s goal is to educate

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On June 29, the city of Carmel will again become a beacon of artistic and celebratory light as it pays tribute to four legends of the world of entertainment.

The Center for the Performing Arts and the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative will honor the music and accomplishments of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno and Jimmy Webb as the 2013 inductees into the Songbook Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be the highlight of the 2013 Encore Celebration Gala Weekend, a two-night event which will begin on June 28 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis.

There, patrons will be treated to a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing and a live and silent auction. On June 29, Carmel’s Palladium will host the Songbook Hall of Fame performance and induction ceremony. The celebration promises two nights of excitement, stars and, of course, highly anticipated performances.

“I’m very excited,” Michael Feinstein said. “It’s going to be an evening that is spectacular, amazing and unique!”

The multi-talented Feinstein is both founder of the Initiative and the American Songbook ambassador. He also is the artistic director for the Center for the Performing Arts.

Speaking during a phone interview, Feinstein stressed the significance of recognizing the impact and the contributions of the honorees.

“The music is such an important part of our history, part of our culture. The contributions of the artists are incalculable. We want people to understand how important and how special this is to the fabric of our lives,” he said.

This year’s gala marks the second annual Songbook Hall of Fame. The 2012 inductees and honorees included Cole Porter, Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Barry Manilow. Like the 2012 awards, this year’s ceremony also will feature musical performances and tributes to the honorees.

“We will have two sets of celebrities,” said John Hughey, the director of external relations for the Center, “those who are honoring and those who are being honored.”

The list of performers includes Jimmy Smits, Tom Wopat, Jose Feliciano and from TV’s “Smash,” Megan Hilty.

“This is not going to be a typical concert,” Hughey said. “It will be an event like the Oscars or the Tonys.

The show is being produced by Robert C. Pullen who also works on the Kennedy Center Honors. There also is going to be an after party with three clubs playing music for people to dance. One club will be playing only Sinatra songs.”

Yet, amidst the glamour and the celebration, there remains an underlying commitment to the Initiatives goal: education.

“The arts have been devalued,” Feinstein said. “We are fortunate here in Carmel to have such strong arts education programs. That is unique. It is fundamentally important for our quality of life. The more arts we have in education, the better learners we have.”

Hughey also acknowledged the educational aspect.

“We hope people leave with a better understanding, better appreciation of Sinatra, Minnelli, Moreno and Webb, their careers, and their contributions to pop culture, to music and to the songbook,” he said.

For Feinstein, there are similar hopes.

“I want people to take away the realization that music stays alive because of the individuals who care about it and the significance of keeping it alive,” Feinstein said. “We want to encourage people to come and check out what we have. The more people that know, the better.”

 

If you would like more information on the Great American Songbook Initiative, visit www.centerfortheperformingarts.org.

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