White Christmas 1941-2021: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Irving Berlin



In September 2021, Mr. Paul Steinmetz was appointed Luxembourg Consul General in New York and Mrs. Nicole Bintner-Bakshian was appointed Luxembourg Ambassador in Washington, DC.


The Consulate General of Luxembourg to New York produced a show this year celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Irving Berlin’s first ever rendition of his song “White Christmas” introduced to the world by Bing Crosby on his weekly NBC Radio Program “The Kraft Music Hall” on Christmas Day 1941, 17 days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). The show also tells the life story of the late songwriter as well as his many connections to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.


Born Israel Beilin in 1888 in a Russian Jewish shtetl in Imperial Russia (today in Belarus), he died as Irving Berlin in 1989 at 17 Beekman Place. He had purchased his last home of 42 years from first US Secretary of Defense, James V. Forrestal, and moved in with his wife Ellin Mackay and daughters Mary Ellin, Linda and Elizabeth, on Christmas Day 1947. On April 30 1990, the Government of Luxembourg purchased the five-story house for its mission and has since commemorated the legacy of the late American composer.



The show was performed at the Triad Theatre in NYC and the Embassy of Luxembourg in Washington D.C. in December. While “White Christmas (1941-2021): A Celebration of the Life and Music of Irving Berlin” were performed at the off-Broadway Triad Theater in New York, both Luxembourg Ambassador in Washington, DC and Luxembourg Consul General to New York embraced the idea of this special celebration to take place in their respective diplomatic venues. In addition, worldwide audience who were unable to travel to New York or Washington DC, were able to see the production live from The Triad Theater via zoom.



PC: Society & Diplomatic Review


Laurence Pierron, the Creative Director of the show is an award winning production manager for the publication “The Luxembourg House on Beekman Place: Three Portraits in Time”. Laurence has been working for the past 25 years for the Consulate General of Luxembourg in New York City located at 17 Beekman Place. The unique address was the home of first US Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal (1929-1946), then the home of songwriter Irving Berlin (1947-1989), and has been the property of the Government of Luxembourg since April 30, 1990.


In 2015, to complement a presentation and book launch by Benjamin Patton, grand-son of General Patton, she created a musical show “Welcome Home, Boys!!!” for Adrienne Haan to honor the Veterans, members from Chapter 52 of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, who liberated the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on January 25, 1945. The event held at the River Club was attended by family members of Irving Berlin and James V. Forrestal and received extensive media coverage from the Staten Island Advance.


Combining her passion for the music and life of Irving Berlin, her knowledge in American and Luxembourg history, the prestigious address inspired her to write about the fascinating ties between Irving Berlin and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – a theme never approached before. This conscientious effort ultimately results in reinforcing the excellent relationship between the USA and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, including in cultural arena.


She studied Classical piano at the Conservatoire National de Montreuil, France and is a bronze medalist in International Latin & Ballroom dancing. A native of France and a citizen of the United States of America, she has been residing in New York since 1983.


A Luxembourg citizen, the star of the show, Adrienne Haan, was hailed as "the First Lady of Cabaret" by Wolf Entertainment Guide in NYC and "an entertainer of the highest caliber" by the Huffington Post. Award-winning Haan is one of the most electrifying concert and cabaret stars at work today. A singer, writer and producer, she tours the globe with a diverse repertoire that encompasses music of the 1920s and 30s, chanson to jazz, blues, swing, klezmer, American Songbook and Broadway. To this she adds songs drawn from Hebrew and many other nations and languages. In her recent tours – the USA, Europe, Australia, China, Israel, Turkey and South America – she has sung in 11 languages, a dazzling engagement in linguistic diversity which surely makes her unique in her field. The Berliner Morgenpost called her “An exceptional song interpreter with a grand voice”, and the New York Times called her “A musical Ambassador.”



Photo Courtesy of Laurence Pierron


Adrienne along with Bart Shatto serenaded the audience with the following setlist:


There’s No Show Like Show Business (1946)


Piano: The Song Is Ended, But The Melody Lingers On (1927)


Alexander Ragtime Band (1911)


Let Me Sing And I’m Happy (1927)


Steppin’ Out With My Baby (1948)


From Imperial Russia to America:


Piano: Moscow Nights (Composition Vasily Solovyov-Dedoi & poem Mikhail Matusovsky - 1955)


Ofyn Pripetchik (Song & lyrics by Mark Warshawsky (1848-1907)


Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor (1949)


Marie From Sunny Italy (1907)


Military Songs - WWI and WWII:


Oh How I hate To Get Up In The Morning (1918)


I Paid My Income Tax Today (1942)


Take Me With You, Soldier Boy (1943)


We’re On Our Way To France (1918)


This Is The Army, Mr. Jones (1943)


How About A Cheer For The Navy (1943)


Musical “Call Me Madam” (1950):


Piano: Ons Heemecht (Luxembourg National Anthem: Lyrics by Michel Lentz in 1859 & Music by Jean Antoine Zinnen in 1864)


Piano: It’s A Lovely Day Today


The Hostess With The Mostes’ On The Ball


Lichtenburg


Hollywood Songs:


Puttin’ On The Ritz (1927, revised in 1946)


Blue Skies (1926)


Cheek To Cheek (1935)


I’ve Got The Sun In The Morning (1946)


Counting Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep (1954)


Love Songs:


Always (1925)


You’re Just In Love (1950)


It’s a Lovely Day Today (1950)


They Say That Falling In Love Is Wonderful (1946)


Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me (1954)


How Deep Is The Ocean (1932)


Falling Out Of Love Can Be Fun (1954)


Love And The Weather (1947)


Holiday Songs:


Happy Holiday (1942)


Let Yourself Go (1936)


Snow (1954)


I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (1937)


White Christmas (Bing Crosby’s first rendition: December 25, 1941)


Encore:


God Bless America (1918, revised 1938)


Special thanks to all the members of the Irving Berlin family including Mary Ellin Barrett, Linda Emmet, Katherine Barrett Swett, Elizabeth Matson, Peter Matson, James Matson, Caroline Emmet-Bourgois, Edward W. Emmet, as well as Ted Chapin, former CEO of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.


Stay tuned for next December’s performance of “White Christmas (1942-2022)"!






For more information: http://www.adriennehaan.com/




 

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