Milwaukee Symphony looks back to Prohibition-era music, when its concert hall opened as a movie palace

Posted on: October 27, 2021

“In a throwback salute to the origin of its new home, the Milwaukee Symphony will be ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ Oct. 29-31,” writes Jim Higgins in Monday’s (10/25) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The MSO’s ‘Prohibition’ program features songs, instrumentals and novelties of the 1920s and ’30s, from Raymond Scott’s remarkable ‘Powerhouse,’ the background of umpteen cartoons, to ‘Bei Mir Bist du Schön,’ the closely harmonized breakthrough hit of the Andrews Sisters, to Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Black Bottom Stomp.’ Throughout this season, the Milwaukee Symphony is playing music from the early 20th century in honor of the date that its new home came to life. The Warner Grand Theatre opened in 1931; the MSO converted that former movie palace into its Bradley Symphony Center. During ‘Prohibition,’ the symphony will use that movie screen to show still and film imagery from the time period of those songs. Music director Ken-David Masur will conduct…. Jeff Tyzik … arranged the music…. Tyzik … likens the gradual return to full ensembles performing for full audiences to a flower slowly opening up. ‘I think we’ve learned how to function and still how to reach an audience, even during the worst of times,’ he said.”