Noah Griffin, founder and artistic director of the Cole Porter Society, brought the American composer and songwriter Cole Porter to life when he presented a program recently at the Commonwealth Club of California.
The program, “Cole Porter: The Music and the Man” held on Aug. 19, was part of a month-long Music Matters series presented by the Commonwealth Club featuring prominent speakers and artists from the Bay Area who speak on why music matters to them.
Noah’s description of Cole Porter’s life was colorful and full of humor. He painted a picture of the man, privileged from birth, who wrote 300 songs while at Yale, including many student songs that are still played at the university today.
In the 1930s, Porter was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage. Unlike many successful Broadway composers, he wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs.
Porter realized that he was not destined to be a lawyer and, at the suggestion of the dean of the Harvard Law School, he switched to Harvard’s music faculty.
Noah performed some of Porter’s most witty and legendary songs: Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love, Don’t Fence Me In, and It’s Delovely from the musical “Anything Goes.” On two occasions, he invited the audience to sing along.
“I first became a fan of Cole Porter many years ago at Castro Valley High School when I performed in two of his wonderful musical shows: ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Kiss Me Kate,'” said Carol Henri, Commonwealth Club member. “His lyrics are clever and his music is delightful! I still know the words to all the songs and was singing along.”
Throughout the month of August, the Commonwealth Club has presented outstanding artists, from jazz to symphony, hambone to choirs, instruments, film soundtracks, American composers and gospel music.
Carol Fleming, director of the Music Matters series, stated, “If you love music, you must take steps to encourage more of it. We must teach our children that music making is part of human heritage, deserving of our attention and support.”
Maestro Michael Morgan, music director of the Oakland Symphony, will lead a panel of composers discussing “Orchestra Music Grown Locally,” Tuesday, August 25, at 6 p.m. at 555 Post St. in San Francisco.
For tickets, call (415) 597-6702 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.