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Beaver Valley Association for Lifelong Learning

SPRING SERIES: Heavy Hitters of the Great American Songbook - Dean Hollin

SPRING SERIES: Heavy Hitters of the Great American Songbook - Dean Hollin

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The "Great American Songbook" is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century that have stood the test of time in their life and legacy. This series will look at the contributions of some of the “Heavy Hitters.”


Session One: March 18, 2025

“CROSSROADS KERN” – Born in America at a time when the musical-entertainment landscape was dominated by opera and its lighter counterpart operetta, while early Americana had begun to gain popularity, forefather of the Great American Songbook, Jerome Kern, decided to break away from the pack and carve his own way.  Week one will explain how Kern was entirely a rebel and a musical mixologist.  


Session Two: March 25, 2025

“WORDS AND MUSIC” – While most of the music of the Great American Songbook – most music, in general – tends to be the product of more than one creator – composer(s) and lyricist(s) – there were two exceptional standouts who tackled both disciplines – Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.  That substantial similarity aside, in regards to style, personality and family background, the two couldn’t have been more different!  


Session Three: April 1, 2025

“SIBLING CHEMISTRY” – The piano that Moishe and Roza purchased in 1908 was intended for oldest child Ira.  It was ten year old Jacob (George), however, that was more interested in exploring the ebony and ivoried instrument.  This was much to the relief of Ira who was more interested in literature.  Eventually teaming up when the boys were both in their early twenties, George and Ira Gershwin went on to create some of the most memorable songs in the English language of the 20th century. 


Session Four: April 8, 2025

“LONE FEMALE” – Her father was vaudeville star and later an influential theatre producer – and did everything he could to prevent his daughter from pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.  Despite that substantial hurdle, and the fact that songwriting was ‘male territory’, Dorothy Fields went on to become one of the most celebrated lyricists of the 20th century.  


Session Five: April 15, 2025

“RODGERS AND H” – Richard Rodgers – one of the most celebrated composers of 20th century music – had two distinctly different songwriting careers – each spanning about two decades.  The first was with lyricist Lorenz Hart – the second with Oscar Hammerstein II.  Both earned him substantial merit.  Each were very different collaborative journeys. 


Session Six: April 22, 2025

“HAROLD WHO?” – Despite the fact that Great American Songbook composer Harold Arlen is responsible for some of the most celebrated, most enduring, and most beloved melodies of the twentieth century, his is a name that often garners little to no reaction – even in his hometown of Buffalo, New York.  To suggest that “Over the Rainbow” is the tip of the iceberg is entirely a musical understatement!   

Dean Hollin - Biography

Dean is a native of Hamilton, Ontario. It was while living in that city when, in his mid-twenties (thirty years ago this very month) he found himself in a show called “Anything Goes” and promptly fell head-over-heels in love with the music of Cole Porter, which quickly led to a never-ending affection for the music of the Great American Songbook.  His insatiable desire to understand all things G.A.S. is something that continues to grow with each passing year – as does his rather substantial record and CD collection which revolves around that important body of work.  In 2021 Moses Znaimer and Zoomer Radio hired him for a bunch of on-air duties including taking over the reigns as host of “Big Band Sunday Night” – five hours of programming each week which has, since his arrival, also included an hour of his own creation “Radio Limelite – All Things Great American Songbook”.  Additionally, he hosts Saturday and Sunday mornings on The New Classical FM. 


A professional entertainer for over three decades now, Dean arrived in Collingwood just over two decades ago  – in 2003 – to assume the role of Artistic & Managing Director of The Gayety Theatre, which at that time had changed ownership and was making the switch from exclusively film to primarily live entertainment. His professional credits include television, film and radio, as well as scores of roles in theatres throughout Ontario, North American and beyond. For years now in the South Georgian Bay area, Dean has operated musical theatre camps as well as taught classes for youth. He has done so much of this aided and abetted by the greatest love of his life – wife, Gayle, with whom he has four fascinating and beautiful children.

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