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Someone to Watch Over a Legacy

Ryan Banagale '00 will work with music scholars to oversee the historically significant "George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition," expected to encompass at least 35 volumes.

Someone to Watch Over a Legacy

Colorado College Assistant Music Professor Ryan Raul Bañagale has been appointed to the editorial board for The George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, a first of its kind scholarly treatment for American music.

The project, under the auspices of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan, will be an ongoing scholarly examination of the Gershwins’ music, in which scholars across the globe will document and analyze—note-by-note and word-by-word—the works featuring music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. News of the first definitive edition of the Gershwins’ entire joint body of work recently appeared in The New York Times.

Banagale, a 2000 graduate of Colorado College, will work with chief-editor Mark Clague, associate musicology professor and director of research at the University of Michigan, as well as other scholars to oversee the historically significant series.

The result of the Gershwin Initiative will be a new and complete critical series, expected to encompass at least 35 volumes, to be published in book and electronic forms. Each volume will contain an introductory essay concentrating on the genesis of the compositions included, as well as critical commentary explaining any editorial decisions made to present the Gershwins’ work. The initiative should cement the Gershwins’ reputation as uniquely American geniuses and provide a reliable road map for future performances.

The Gershwins’ works have never received the benefit of scholarly editing, partially due to George Gershwin’s premature and tragic death from a brain tumor at age 38. While readily accessible in print and recordings, the scores and parts of many Gershwin works circulate in substandard editions—often hard-to-read photocopies of handwritten scores—that contain notational errors and confusing inconsistencies. Even such notable scores as “Porgy and Bess” and “Rhapsody in Blue” circulate in problematic editions.

In addition to the Gershwin series, Bañagale will edit at least two, and probably more, scholarly editions of “Rhapsody in Blue,” which is the focus of his new book currently under contract with Oxford University Press.

After graduating from CC with a major in music and drama, Bañagale earned his Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University and an M.A. in music history from the University of Washington. He also taught at as a Riley Scholar-in-Residence in the music department at Colorado College in 2011-12.

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