As a theatre composer, Bernstein and his collaborators brought us such outstanding shows as On The Town, Wonderful Town, West Side Story and Candide. As a composer for the concert hall, Bernstein’s scores united diverse musical elements at a time when it was frowned upon to do so. His courage in mixing genres paved the way for future generations of composers to take similar risks.
Bernstein’s compositions embraced the world in which he lived. For example, his Symphony No. 2: The Age of Anxiety, explored the psychic damage of World War II. His musical Candide was devised as a protest against the evils of McCarthyism in the 1950s. West Side Storyconfronted head-on the bitter ramifications of bigotry and prejudice. His prophetic Mass from 1971, which expresses a war-torn nation’s crisis of faith, brings together musical styles as diverse as America itself.
Bernstein’s breadth as a composer will be well represented in the wide variety of performances during the Centennial period. Starting in September, The Kennedy Center will offer a season’s worth of presentations devoted to Bernstein’s composing legacy, including an evening titled “Bernstein on Broadway” in September, and performances of Bernstein’s concert works throughout the season. Later in the year, the New York City Ballet andAmerican Ballet Theater will present several ballets choreographed to Bernstein’s music.
In late October, the New York Philharmonic will begin its own centennial presentations with Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium), featuring soloist Joshua Bell, as well as Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1: “Jeremiah.” In the same month, Carnegie Hall will kick off its 127th season with Nézet-Séguin conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra in Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. In addition, theRavinia Festival in Highland Park, IL will celebrate Bernstein’s compositions throughout its 2018 summer season.
In Europe, where Bernstein was revered, there will be a multitude of centennial events. Orchestras and concert halls where Bernstein had strong connections will be participating.
The city of Vienna will celebrate Bernstein with concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Volksoper Wien, and Neue Oper Wien, among others. There will also be full festivals in the Konzerthaus Wien and the Musikverein. The Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome and the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra will focus on Bernstein’s compositions. Additional concerts will be held in Berlin, Budapest, Paris, Prague, Warsaw, and many other music capitals.
The Fugard Theatre production of West Side Story will take over the Cape Town Artscape Opera House in South Africa, while the BB Productions tour of West Side Story will visit China, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan.