Gershwin and Queen Noor |

Gershwin and Queen Noor

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
At the Mother Lode restaurant, after Dr. Kogans presentation about George Gershwin, are, left to right, Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud; Kris Marsh, director of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation; Dr. Richard Kogan; and Zetta Feder. MEH photo.

A packed Wheeler Opera House was the scene in late February when Aspenites were treated to Dr. Richard Kogan presenting “Music & the Mind: George Gershwin,” a talk about the composer and a piano concert of his works. The concert and a dinner afterward at the Mother Lode were a benefit for the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation. Dr. Kogan, a psychiatrist and virtuoso pianist, told how Gershwin was hyperactive all his life, how he exhibited disruptive behavior in school, did poorly in school, and then at the age of 11 heard another student playing music and decided music would be the pursuit of his life.Dropping out of school when he was 15, Gershwin sold sheet music and played piano at parties, always putting in improvisations. He had written “Swanee” and Al Jolson heard him playing it. Jolson popularized the song, enabling Gershwin to quit his job and devote his life to composing. He wrote “Rhapsody in Blue” in three weeks. He became depressed and wrote “Porgy and Bess” with its somber themes, then died of a massive brain tumor in 1937 at age 38.After the talk, Dr. Kogan enchanted the audience with Gershwin pieces such as “Rhapsody in Blue,” “American in Paris,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Oh Lady Be Good,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

Also in mid-February, Her Majesty Queen Noor gave a talk for the Aspen Writers’ Foundation about her book, “Leap of Faith.” She said the book is “a fairy tale and a real woman’s story. Faith is a central theme in the book … faith in God, in ourselves and that women can make a difference in the world.”She told how she was 26 when she married the late King Hussein of Jordan and he wanted all Arabs to find peace and common ground. The queen insisted “that we are all so fundamentally alike … and women are all searching for the same things … education, equality and peace.” She added, “You cannot impose democracy or peace. It must come through the inspirational founding principles of this country put into action.” She also said that politicians are afraid of women and their strength. A reception followed the talk in Jacobs Corner at the Hotel Jerome. Especially enjoying the talk and the reception afterward were Maurice and Brigitte Couturier of the Ute City restaurant because, for several years in the 1980s, Maurice was the executive chef for King Hussein and Queen Noor at the Al Nadwa Palace in Amman, Jordan. Brigitte was the pastry chef. Maurice has recently opened L’Absinthe restaurant in Boulder, in addition to operating Ute City in Aspen.There are still a few tickets at the preferred rate for the 2005 Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen. Tickets are $850 for the preferred rate if purchased before Tuesday, March 15, and will be $950 after that. Call to register at 977-900-WINE.Coming for the Classic this year are chefs and wine experts such as Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Bobby Flay, Andrea Immer, Joshua Wesson and Kevin Zraly. The Classic will be held June 10-12.Coming to Aspen March 24-April 1 are Gene Saltzberg and his family from Highland Park, Ill. Gene was the local pediatrician in the 1970s and left Aspen to pursue a career in emergency medicine. Gene’s oldest son, Noah, is graduating from high school this spring and will be attending college and playing hockey at either Ohio State University or the University of Colorado in Boulder. They’ll be staying at Aspen Square and hope to hear from old friends.The Heedum Agency of Aspen and Denver was given a gold award for advertising excellence by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International at a black-tie dinner in late January at the New York Marriott Marquis. The agency won with its Magnolia Hotels Corporate Brochure. Sheri Heedum opened the agency in 1990 and represents clients in the luxury travel, hospitality and food industries including the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen.On Thursday, March 17, the Aspen Music Festival will present a performance by Jimmy Lin on violin and Helen Huang on piano at the home of Harriet and Richard Gold. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. and the recital will begin at 7 p.m. For tickets call the box office at 925-9042.The annual Snowmass Picnic was held Thursday, March 10, at the Spider Sabich Center on Snowmass Mountain, and hosts were Jerry Elder, Henry Fella, Jerry Goldman, Cal Gray, John Guiltinan, Fran Hoffman, Don Keltner, Rodney Knutson, Jerry McCallion, Dick Osur, Philip Salet, Colby Sandlian, Ron Soderling, Stan Starn and Dick Stephenson.Undercurrent … I guess it’s time to take down the Christmas wreath from the front door.

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