Bernstein celebration planned for 2018

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis commissioned Leonard Bernstein to compose a monumental musical spectacle for the 1971 opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

What the American composer and conductor choose to create was an enormous all-inclusive Mass, a sprawling theatrical musical production.

With the centenary of the composer’s birthday in 2018, Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Bay has conceived of “Bernstein 100 Austin,” a fully realized version of ciommunity-oriented spectacle.

Bernstein’s 90-minute piece requires large pit orchestra, two choruses, a youth choir, a marching band and a rock band.

The Austin production is slated to have 250 performers including 20 soloists including guitarist Mitch Watkins and singer-songwriter Christopher Cross.

And of course there’s a slew of local collaborators too including Austin Opera, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Austin, Chorus Austin, Conspirare, KMFA 89.5 FM, Texas State University Department of Music, The University of Texas Butler School of Music and the University of Texas Performing Arts Center

“It will be an honor to perform a work of this importance and scope,” Bay said in a press release. “This will be the most spectacular artistic collaboration in our city’s history, and it is a challenge that the Austin community is ready to tackle.”

“Bernstein 100 Austin” will be directed by Austin Chronicle arts editor Robert Faires.  The show is scheduled for June 29-30, 2018.

Leonard Bernstein (center) on the 1971 premiere of his Mass.
Leonard Bernstein (center) on the 1971 premiere of his Mass.

Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

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