CU hosts Leonard Bernstein-inspired Young People's Concert
Published by Boulder Daily Camera on Sept 28, 2018
By Cassa Niedringhaus
Mesa Elementary third-graders Rhys Owens, left, and Ava Nahan cheer the CU Symphony Orchestra as it plays Leonard Bernstein's music at Macky Auditorium. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)
The chatter of hundreds of local third-graders filled the University of Colorado's Macky Auditorium on Friday as they awaited a Young People's Concert celebrating the late composer Leonard Bernstein.
After the CU Symphony Orchestra led with a performance of "Overture to Candide," Jamie Bernstein came on stage. Jamie Bernstein, one of Leonard Bernstein's three children, is an author and filmmaker and hosted the concert. It was one of dozens of events the CU College of Music organized during September and October to celebrate what would have been Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday.
"Wasn't that music delicious?" she asked the schoolchildren. She described for them her father's meteoric rise to fame, when as a 25-year-old he filled in as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and she played a clip from one of his Young People's Concerts, which were broadcast on CBS.
She also told them about the time, when she was a child, that the famous composer Samuel Barber came to her home and told her and her siblings to call him "Sam Sam the Garbage Man," to which the third-graders in the audience responded with laughs.
Glenn Dicterow, a violinist and former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, made a guest appearance to play Barber's "Violin Concerto" with the orchestra.
The Young People's Concert concluded with the orchestra playing three excerpts of music from "On the Waterfront," for which Leonard Bernstein wrote the soundtrack, to illustrate three themes from the film.
"That's a perfect example of how music can tell a story just as well as words can," Jamie Bernstein told the children.
After the concert, 8-year-old Levi Corwin of Mesa Elementary School, said he enjoyed both the concert and learning about Leonard Bernstein.
"It was super exciting," he said, "because some of the songs, at the end, there was a big boom."
Ayla Deweese, a 7-year-old at Ryan Elementary School, said she plays the piano and the violin, and she thought it was cool to see people play the violin. The music reminded her of Beethoven, she said.
"I think orchestras are an amazing social phenomenon," Jamie Bernstein said in an interview. "It's really stirring to see 80 people on a stage all working together, literally making harmony. It becomes like a template for a world that works. For young people, it's a fantastic experience."
She described her father's rise to fame coinciding with the popularity of television as a "magical coincidence" that allowed him to reach more people, and she said his Young People's Concerts were groundbreaking.
He was more than a composer or conductor, she said. He was an educator and activist, too.
"You would not believe how many people I meet, especially this year during the centennial, both audience members and members of orchestras, and they tell me, 'It's because of the Young People's Concerts that I fell in love with music and was first exposed to classical music, and it's because of your dad that I'm here today,'" Jamie Bernstein said, adding that she and her siblings have catalogued more than 4,000 events worldwide celebrating Leonard Bernstein's centennial. "This is what I hear over and over again."
Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, email@example.com
Leonard Bernstein at 100
He remains one of music's indisputable legends, and this year marks the centennial of Leonard Bernstein's birth. Among the celebrants is our Mo Rocca:
It's hard to believe that Leonard Bernstein was just one person.
In the concert hall, he was the classical music world's first American-born superstar conductor. Down on Broadway, he wrote the music for legendary shows, including 'West Side Story." And on television he played Pied Piper for millions of future music lovers.
But he was even bigger than the world of music. Bernstein seemed to know everyone, and be everywhere. Continue reading here...
Prominent guests come to CU to join Leonard Bernstein celebration
Composer’s daughter, NY Phil concertmaster, prominent scholar visit College of Music
Published by Boulder Weekly on Sept 20, 2018
By Peter Alexander
The University of Colorado College of Music has joined the rest of the musical world to celebrate the centennial of the unique American composer, conductor, teacher, writer, lecturer and humanitarian Leonard Bernstein.
Just about the entire College of Music is represented in the months-long festival, from individual faculty members to the University Symphony, the Eklund Opera Program and even the Marching Band.
The celebration gains an extra dimension starting Monday, Sept. 24, with the arrival on campus of three prominent guests: Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter and author of the recently released memoir Famous Father Girl; violinist Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for 34 years who played many performances Bernstein conducted; and Carol Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University and one of the leading Bernstein scholars.
The three guests will open the week with a joint appearance Monday afternoon. Oja will present a keynote address for the celebration, followed by a public discussion moderated by Susan Thomas, director of the CU American Music Research Center. Each of the guests will then participate in individual events during the rest of the week.
Andrew Cooperstock, CU professor and artistic director of CU Bernstein at 100, organized the festival. He recorded all of Bernstein’s piano music, and talks about the composer’s importance. “Bernstein was one of the most significant musical figures of the 20th century, particularly in America,” he says.
“He helped define American music, with a fresh, personal voice that combined an interest in both classical and popular idioms. Rather than just focusing on one [thing], his mission seemed to be to synthesize all of them. Whether he was conducting the New York Philharmonic, producing a Young People’s Concert, playing the piano for friends, writing about music, or participating in humanitarian efforts, he was teaching us something about the importance of music.”
Two performances in particular will feature the guests, starting with Faculty Tuesday (Sept. 25) in Grusin Hall. The program will feature Bernstein’s chamber music, performed by faculty and students, introduced and narrated by Jamie Bernstein.
Bernstein can’t give details about her presentation, but you can expect insights from within the Bernstein orbit. “What I usually do is to say something about each piece, but not necessarily between every piece,” she says. “The likelihood is that I will talk about three or four selections at a time.”
One highlight of the concert will be Cooperstock’s performance with Bernstein. “She and I will collaborate on five of the ‘Anniversaries’,” he says, referring to piano pieces that Leonard Bernstein wrote for close friends and family members. “She will project personal pictures of the people [the pieces were written for] and share anecdotes about them, so there’s a direct connection with Leonard Bernstein by way of his daughter.”
To mention just three other faculty performances on the program: Soprano Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson and pianist Alexandra Nguyen will perform the humorous cycle “I Hate Music!”; Leigh Holman, director of the Eklund Opera Program, will sing the anti-war song “So Pretty” with pianist Jeremy Reger; and Daniel Silver will play the Sonata for clarinet and piano with Margaret McDonald.
Thursday’s University Orchestra concert will feature two of Bernstein’s pieces — the ubiquitous Overture to Candide, and the less familiar suite from the film On the Waterfront. These again will be introduced by Jamie Bernstein, and Dicterow will play the Barber Violin Concerto for the second half of the program
“The primary criterion for selecting repertoire for the university orchestra is to serve the students,” conductor Gary Lewis says. “On the Waterfront is really terrific music, and has solo opportunities for musicians in the orchestra, so I think it was a good fit in our curriculum.”
The Barber Concerto is another piece that serves the students well, Lewis says. “It has such beautiful tunes, and the last movement is incredibly challenging for the orchestra as well, but the orchestra is just really eating it up.”
Dicterow has played the Barber with Bernstein, including once on tour before an audience of 10,000 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “Fortunately there was a mic,” he says.
“It is an absolutely beautiful piece. It was a pleasure for me to learn and to keep in my repertoire. He managed to write something beautiful and tonal and individual, and do it in such a sincere way. Who could help but love the Barber Concerto?”
For Jamie Bernstein, it is her father as teacher that she wants to highlight. “He was a compulsive teacher and communicator,” she says. “Everything he did was a form of teaching, whether he was rehearsing an orchestra, or telling a good Jewish joke.”
On the Bill: Bernstein at 100. Throughout the fall 2018 semester. All events are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, please visit: colorado.edu/event/bernstein.
BERNSTEIN AT 100 AT CU
Published by Sharps & Flatirons
By Peter Alexander
It started Aug. 31 with the CU Marching Band’s half-time show.
“It” is the CU Boulder contribution to the world-wide juggernaut that is the 2018 centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. If the CU-CSU “Rocky Mountain Showdown” seems an unusual place to celebrate the former director of the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein is a unique figure in American music. He famously wrote everything from serious symphonies to smash-hit Broadway shows. Indeed, he was such a protean figure that he is identified on the university’s Webpage as a “composer, conductor, educator, musician, cultural ambassador, and humanitarian.
For the record, the marching band played arrangements from West Side Story at the CU-CSU game in Denver. They will repeat the performance, with assistance from the Dance and Theatre Department at the Folsom Field halftime shows Saturday, Sept. 15, and Friday, Sept. 28.
Locally, the observance of the Bernstein centennial actually started long before August. Last April, the Boulder Philharmonic presented a sold-out performance of West Side Story in concert, and several of the concerts at the Colorado Music Festival this last summer were arranged around music Bernstein wrote, conducted, or was influenced by.
With nearly 20 events on the calendar, the CU celebration will be the most wide-ranging Bernstein festival in the region. “We wanted to feature the University of Colorado, and involve as much of the College of Music as possible,” says Andrew Cooperstock, professor of piano in the College of Music and artistic director of CU Bernstein at 100.
“I think we’ve done that pretty well. We have faculty chamber music, we have student performances, we have all of the major ensembles, opera and wind symphony, and orchestra—and marching band! We have music theory and musicology as well, and extramural partnerships with the Program in Jewish Studies and the Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts.”
Cooperstock also noted the wide variety of Bernstein’s interests as a motivating aspect for the broad range of events. “Bernstein said he didn’t differentiate among different kinds of music,” Cooperstock says. “He had an interest in the Beatles, and Mahler, and jazz, and everything in between.”
Information about the CU Bernstein at 100 project can be found on their Web page, which also includes a calendar of all the CU Bernstein events. The calendar includes concerts and other performances, lectures, a masterclass, film screenings, and a full production of West Side Story by the Eklund Opera Theater. You can also find a page about Bernstein that has a brief bio and links to videos and essays about various aspects of his career written by people who knew him.
Among the authors is Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, whose remarkable book Famous Father Girl: A memoir of growing up Bernstein was published in June. Jamie Bernstein will be one of three special guests at CU during the week of Sept. 24–28, along with Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and Carol Oja, the William Powell Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University and one of the leading scholars on Bernstein and his music.
Events involving these guests will be covered in more detail later this month.
CU Boulder to host two-month festival celebrating composer Leonard Bernstein
Bernstein at 100 events to take place around the country marking composer's 100th birthday
Published by Boulder Daily Camera on Sept 6, 2018
By Cassa Niedringhaus
Professor Andrew Cooperstock gives suggestions to student Andi Bonato as she plays Leonard Bernstein's Seven Anniversaries - 5. In Memoriam: Natalie Koussevitzky in the Imig Music Building on the University of Colorado Campus in Boulder on Aug. 29. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)
As organizations across the country celebrate the late Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday this year, the University of Colorado is taking part, too.
Led by CU piano professor Andrew Cooperstock, the university has planned two months of events spanning September and October to honor the composer best known for the musicals "West Side Story" and "Candide" but also known for his range of works.
"We'll be highlighting all of the different facets of his career," Cooperstock said. "It's Bernstein as composer, as conductor, as teacher, as writer and as humanitarian. There were some who suggested to him that he maybe focus on just one of those areas, but his calling seemed to be to work on all of them. He had great curiosity, great interest in working on all of those."
The festival will feature public talks and opera, band, choir and orchestral performances, as well as guest appearances by Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein's daughter; Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic; and Carol Oja, Harvard professor and Bernstein scholar.
The CU College of Music will also collaborate with the program of Jewish Studies and department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts to host screenings of two films: "The Dybbuk" and "West Side Story."
Nan Goodman, director of the Jewish Studies program, said Bernstein figured as a prominent composer who explored his ethnic and religious background as a Jewish-American man, and she'll join a panel discussion about the film — based on a play — that inspired Bernstein's ballet by the same name. The dybbuk, in Jewish folklore, is the spirit of a dead person that possesses a live person.
"It's an interesting cultural mediation," Goodman said of the various adaptations, adding that the dybbuk creature fascinated Bernstein.
She said the festival provided an opportunity not only for CU to take part in national celebrations but also to showcase university experts.
"Bernstein did everything, and because we have so many wonderful faculty members we can really hit many of those areas," she said."He composed musicals, he wrote ballets, he wrote liturgical music, he wrote symphonies — he did everything."
As for "West Side Story," Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz, chair of CU's department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts, will join a panel discussion about the film and discuss the challenges of turning the story into a movie.
"I am going to talk mostly about the process of adapting 'West Side Story' from theater to cinema because movies are an entirely different thing, as we know," he said.
He'll also delve into the legacy of "West Side Story" and how to examine it in modern times.
"There's always a little bit of a minefield when talking about 'West Side Story,' especially in contemporary culture where we try to be culturally sensitive and aware of differences," Acevedo-Muñoz said. "Yet, putting aside these problems, we're still looking at 'West Side Story' as a major landmark in American musical theater and American musical cinema."
Acevedo-Muñoz noted that few shows are popular in every setting from high school theater to regional theater to opera — and the set of Bernstein at 100 events will also feature performances by the Eklund Opera Program of "West Side Story."
Cooperstock said Bernstein was so popular and left such a legacy because he came to prominence in a time when television was new and he could reach most homes in America, he was a charismatic performer who traveled the world, and he helped to define American music in the 20th century by combining classical and popular music. He was also the first major figure to present music appreciation lectures on television to a wide audience, Cooperstock said, and he inspired artists who came after him.
"It's fantastic to see this outpouring of excitement for his birthday," Cooperstock said. "His work inspired subsequent musicians and teachers and writers to continue his work."
For more information, a complete list of events and to purchase tickets, visit: colorado.edu/event/bernstein/events.
Cassa Niedringhaus: 303-473-1106, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dudamel conducts Bernstein's Mambo
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra Simón Bolívar and the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble. With Alexis Cárdenas & Ensemble.
Leonard Bernstein: Take Care of This House
I had planned a different Leonard Bernstein tune to finish out my most enjoyable stint as “Song of the Day” blogger, but the events of last week compelled me to swap out my initial choice, so: some other time.
Politics and musical theater have always gone hand in glove, or, rather, iron fist in velvet glove. There is something about the outsized egos of the political realm, the easy (and necessary) targets for satire, the unfettered public displays of enthusiasm and/or contempt that seem to find a felicitous home on the theatrical stage. The first musical ever to win the Pulitzer Prize was Of Thee I Sing, a deliriously well-crafted spoof, written by the Gershwin brothers, George S. Kaufman, and Morrie Ryskind back in the early days of the Depression. I’ve always held a warm spot in my heart for that show, so imagine my great pleasure when Steve Blier asked me to resurrect a concert version that I built around the plot of Of Thee I Sing, plus dollops of two other Gershwin/Kaufman/Ryskind political satires, entitled “Mr. Gershwin Goes to Washington” for NYFOS.
We’ve pulled that concert out of the cabinet many times over the last dozen years or so for NYFOS, in a variety of venues. The barbed hijinks of the material always resonated differently depending on the crucial political actualities of the day. The most benign of the three musicals, Of Thee I Sing, revolved around a president who gets mixed up with a romantic indiscretion that provokes an impeachment hearing; that part played pretty well for a few election cycles. One other Gershwin satire we used, Strike Up the Band, was about a megalomaniacal businessman who starts a war with a foreign country so he can brand it with his name and bilk profits from the resulting chaos; the other, Let ‘Em Eat Cake, a sequel to Of Thee I Sing, is about a fascist dictator taking over the White House by making empty promises to the proletariat. Until last week, I used to think these two shows were pure fantasy.
“Take Care of This House” is a sober rebuke to such frivolity. It emerges from the wreckage of one of Broadway’s most curious disasters, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a musical celebration of the Bicentennial, written by two of the best writers to ever stride along the canyons of the Theater District, Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner. Bernstein and Lerner had known each such since their Harvard days and, with their respective track records of breaking down boundaries and seriousness of purpose, they appeared to be an excellent match. The vehicle for their collaborative debut was equally ambitious: a retrospective of a dozen presidential administrations in the early decades of this country’s history, using the White House itself—and its African-American domestic staff—as a tension-laden metaphor for, among other things, America’s complex contradictions about race and equality.
Perhaps if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had been directed by Jerome Robbins and produced by a diplomatic tag-team of Benjamin Franklin and George C. Marshall, it might have survived the internecine warfare, bruised egos, and textual depredations that the show endured out of town; it limped into New York in early May of 1976 and expired within a week. Some of the score’s most compelling remnants have been glued and stapled together subsequently into various cantatas and concert pieces, but the musical’s conceptual ambitions for the stage vanished forty years ago.
I’m of the opinion that a failure created by talented people is never wholly a failure. “Take Care of This House” is occasionally performed to this day as a recital piece, but its original context showcases the breadth and depth of Bernstein and Lerner’s preoccupations. It is sung by Abigail Adams (not her first appearance on the Broadway stage, as fans of 1776 know full well, but it is her debut as a First Lady) to a young black slave, named Lud, who will eventually grow old in service of the presidential residence, and live through the Emancipation Proclamation. Lerner, who could be as self-consciously clever in his lyrics as Cole Porter or Noel Coward, hews to a very simple message—everyone owns a part of the American Dream—and the words are easily and accessibly imparted to a young boy by an experienced woman; you’ve got to be carefully taught, indeed.
Bernstein felt that his score had been traduced in its Broadway incarnation and forbade a cast recording. The redoubtable Patricia Routledge, who originated the demanding role of First Lady, can be heard singing “Take Care of This House” in a concert or two, years after the Broadway production. I have chosen Marin Mazzie’s version because I think she represents the indomitability and purity of the best American values; she’d also be swell as the First Lady, if someone is clever enough to put the pieces of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue back together someday.
Of course, the pieces of the real 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may well have to be put back together someday; thank goodness for the power of American song to open our hearts and minds so that we may be touched by the better angels of our nature, as a famous inhabitant of That House once said. It’s the hope of us all.
[There is an entire episode of my radio program, Broadway to Main Street devoted to patriotic values in the American musical, “Worth Fighting For.” Here’s the link on iTunes]
Take Care of This House (1976)
Leonard Bernstein, music
Alan Jay Lerner, words
Audio Clip on Amazon
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Take Care of this House (arr. E. Stern for soprano, violin and piano)
Laurence Maslon is an arts professor at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. He has frequently written about the Broadway musical, including several PBS documentaries, and edited the acclaimed Library of America’s two-volume set of American Musicals (1927-1969). He hosts the weekly radio program, Broadway to Main Street on the NPR-member station WPPB 88.3FM, and podcasts of the show can be found on iTunes. He has been a fan of New York Festival of Song for two decades and has had the privilege of collaborating with Steven Blier on several concerts, including “Mr. Gershwin Goes to Washington.”
Life with Leonard Bernstein
Jamie Bernstein can’t call her childhood a typical one. On any given weekend, she might find Lauren Bacall, Isaac Stern, Richard Avedon, Mike Nichols, Stephen Sondheim, Lillian Hellman or Sidney Lumet hanging out at her house. Jamie’s father was Leonard Bernstein.
The celebrated conductor, composer of West Side Story and host of television’s Young People’s Concerts was born 100 years ago, Aug. 25, 1918. To mark the centennial, Jamie Bernstein has published Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein, a frank recollection of family life and the struggle to find herself amid the “blinding light” that was Leonard Bernstein, who died in 1990... Read on here.
Many Young Musicians Have Stage Parents. Leonard Bernstein Didn't
Boston's NPR, WBUR
By Judith Kogan
Many young musicians have stage parents. Samuel Bernstein, father of Leonard Bernstein, was not among them — in fact, Samuel did all he could to keep his son off the stage. But Leonard Bernstein, who would have turned 100 on Saturday, turned out to be one of the most prodigiously gifted and successful musicians in American history.
Reporter Judith Kogan has the story.
Why West Side Story is so timely now
Published by BBC on August 24, 2018
By Clemency Burton-Hill
Leonard Bernstein’s beloved work is as relevant as ever. “The musical world has never seen his equal and likely never will again,” writes Clemency Burton-Hill.
This summer, the world is paying tribute to a singular artistic genius: Leonard Bernstein, who was born 100 years ago on 25 August. There are thousands of events taking place across the globe to mark the centenary of the man who created such iconic works as West Side Story, Candide and On the Town – not to mention dizzying amounts of symphonies, choral and instrumental works, ballet, opera, chamber music, pioneering television programmes, books, lecture series and even a film score (Elia Kazan’s 1954 On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando)... Read on here
Brash, Confident and Democratic: How Leonard Bernstein Symbolized America
Published by The New York Times on August 23, 2018
Five writers on what made the protean Bernstein, born 100 years ago, one of the most indelible figures in the history of the arts.
A man, a country and an era came together in Leonard Bernstein, the musician of the American century.
After 150 years of insecurity as this country gazed across the sea at the edifices of European culture, here was the New World finally in command. Composer, conductor, arranger, pianist, television personality, star, Bernstein — a Jew, crucially, just a few years after the Holocaust — marched Mahler back into Vienna, a second wave of liberation, a musical Marshall Plan. Bold, maybe a little brash; tender, maybe a little sentimental; difficult to work with yet desperate to please: Bernstein’s qualities were America’s, too.
He was born 100 years ago on Aug. 25, and his centenary is being celebrated as his achievement — and the smilingly confident place and time he symbolized — seems ever more unrepeatable. Who today could write both “West Side Story” and three thorny, searching symphonies? Who could bring together Brahms and the Beatles on national television, and have millions watch? To what maestro’s left-wing political dalliances would New York magazine devote a cover story in 2018?... Read on Here.
A tribute to the joyful noise of Leonard Bernstein's 'Young People's Concerts'
When my daughter was young and prone to griping about the injustice of parental limits on her TV time, I would occasionally have to sit her down for the Talk. It was the baby boomer version of Walking Five Miles Through the Snow to the One-Room School House, and it went like this:
“When I was a kid, there was no Nickelodeon. There was no Cartoon Network. There was no ‘Sesame Street.’ There was Bugs Bunny, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Lamb Chop the puppet. That’s it.”
When she was properly horrified, I would lower the boom.
“And we only had one TV set,” I would whisper. “And I was not in charge of it.”
I was exaggerating for effect, but not by much.
If you were a kid in the pre-cable 1960s and early ’70s, TV was not the 24/7 kid-friendly paradise it is today. There were a few hours of children’s programming in the mornings, and the occasional gift from prime-time heaven (“The Flintstones,” “The Monkees”). Otherwise, you had to get your kicks where you could find them.
Or where you parents would let you find them.
My parents were not anti-TV, but they were anti-sharing. They were going to watch what they were going to watch, and if you were done with your chores and your homework, you were free to sit on the couch for another thrilling installment of “As the World Turns” or “ABC’s Wide Word of Sports.” Good times!
Which is why I thank the pop-culture gods for Leonard Bernstein. My classical-music loving parents approved of Leonard Bernstein, and in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday this month, I am sending up a big TV shout-out for the gift of the maestro and his “Young People’s Concerts.”... Read on Here