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Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maureen McGovern sings and swings during final weekend of Summer Festival

Featuring the Festival Big Band and Studio Orchestra, led by IU Professor Steve Houghton

July 29, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Maureen McGovern's 35-year career includes recordings, concerts, Broadway, theater, films, television, radio and composing, all with a voice that defies categorization.

Maureen McGovern

Photo by: Deborah Feingold

Maureen McGovern

Print-Quality Photo

Her collaborations with Indiana University Professor Steve Houghton, faculty and students from the IU Jacobs School of Music and regional professionals will include a hard-swinging big band, followed by a studio orchestra playing the beautiful sounds of the Great American Songbook on Friday, Aug. 8, at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center.

The collaboration started with a discussion between Houghton, an internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author and educator, and Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards. The dean wanted "something different" for the festival, said Houghton.

"We decided to merge big band and orchestra into one concert because in the professional world, they join together on a regular basis," Houghton said. "This is a great opportunity for the students to gain real life experience."

In addition to Houghton on drums, the core of the hard-driving big band featured with McGovern in the first half of the concert will be comprised of Jacobs faculty members Pat Harbison, trumpet; Joey Tartell, trumpet; Tom Walsh, saxophone; Dan Perantoni, tuba; Luke Gillespie, piano; and Jeremy Allen, bass, along with guitarist Corey Christiansen, who will join the Jacobs faculty in the fall. Outstanding students from the Jacobs School and a number of professionals from around the region will join them.

The second half of the concert will feature the new Festival Studio Orchestra, which combines the big band with a symphony orchestra, supporting McGovern on standards from composers such as Gershwin, Ellington, Arlen, Porter, Webb, Lennon/McCartney and others. The orchestra's principal players will be mostly IU faculty, with students rounding out this impressive ensemble.

Maureen McGovern's involvement

"When the dean asked me to join classical and jazz together," explained Houghton, "I thought, 'Who better than Maureen McGovern?' I've worked with her for 15 years -- she can sing anything, scat jazz and draws from the music of the greatest American songwriters. She seemed like the perfect person to ask about this, so I called her up, and she was immediately enthusiastic regarding this unique concept."

Steve Houghton

Steve Houghton

Print-Quality Photo

An extremely accomplished and sought-after performer, Houghton lived in Los Angeles for 25 years before joining the Jacobs School full-time four years ago. Among myriad gigs, he used to play at the annual Singers' Salute to Songwriters at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and met McGovern there. During the Salutes, he also worked with Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett and many others.

"Maureen was one of the standouts because she was so talented and such a nice person," said Houghton. "I'm very excited to be able to present this concert with Maureen, particularly because she does not typically sing with both a big band and an orchestra in one concert, so this will be a bit different for her too. I hope the university is able to continue to offer such events throughout the academic year."

"Steve Houghton and I have worked together for many years on television and stages across the country," said McGovern. "He is so proud of the exceptionally fine musicians at the Jacobs School and, I must add, how lucky they are to learn from such a master musician and teacher. I look forward to working with the IU Festival Big Band and Studio Orchestra, and I promise you it will be a memorable, swingin' evening -- please join us!"

Tickets are available at the MAC Box Office (info: 812-855-7433), online at or through Ticketmaster at 812-333-9955. The box office is located on Jordan Avenue between Third and Seventh streets, and is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

About Maureen McGovern

On Broadway, McGovern made her debut as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, has appeared as Luisa in Nine with the late Raul Julia, Polly Peachum in Three Penny Opera with Sting, and Marmee in Little Women, The Musical. Off-Broadway, McGovern originated the role of Mary in Brownstone. She portrayed Mrs. Anna in the recent Broadway National Tour of The King and I.

Her theater productions include William Finn's Elegies, Jerry Herman's musical Dear World, Letters from 'Nam, The Lion in Winter, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Of Thee I Sing! McGovern has also starred in productions of The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Guys & Dolls and I Do, I Do. She wrote the music, co-created and starred in the children's musical The Bengal Tiger's Ball, premiering in 1999.

McGovern's feature film roles include Airplane! (as Sister Angelina, the guitar-strumming nun), Airplane II: The Sequel, The Towering Inferno and The Cure for Boredom (aka Sex and Bullets). McGovern is also heard as the voice of Rachel in the animated film Joseph: King of Dreams with Ben Affleck.

Her television roles include appearances on One Life to Live, The Tracey Ullman Show, Pacific Blue, Duckman and Beyond Belief.

McGovern's recording career began with her No. 1 chart-topping, Oscar-winning International Gold Record "The Morning After" from the blockbuster film The Poseidon Adventure, followed by a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. She replicated this success with another Oscar-winning International Gold Record, "We May Never Love Like This Again," from The Towering Inferno.

She made history in 1975 as the first singer to have recorded and introduced two Oscar-nominated songs in the same year, "We May Never Love Like This Again" and "Wherever Love Takes Me," from Gold. She has recorded more than 25 albums and is the recipient of International Gold Records from the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and the Philippines. Other hit records include "Can You Read My Mind," from the motion picture Superman, and "Different Worlds," the theme from the ABC television series Angie.