A spectacular birthday celebration for Leonard Bernstein

by | Mar 23, 2018 | What’s Happening

Friday, April 13, Ferguson Center, Newport News
Saturday, April 14, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk

The Virginia Arts Festival will open its 2018 spring season with a stunning birthday party for Leonard Bernstein. The Festival is joining arts organizations on six continents in a worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the cultural giant.

In two performances, the Virginia Arts Festival will fill the stage with a notto- be-missed celebration featuring the Virginia Symphony Orchestra led by JoAnn Falletta—who studied with Bernstein as a young conducting student at Juilliard. Joining the orchestra, Bernstein’s daughter Jamie, will host and narrate the concert, sharing stories and insights from her father’s career; along with artists including violinist Robert McDuffie, clarinetist Jon Manasse, Todd Rosenlieb Dance, the Virginia Chorale, and a soloist from the Virginia Children’s Chorus.

The Virginia Chorale and the child soloist will be featured in Chichester Psalms, one of Bernstein’s most gloriously, overtly Jewish works. Filled with joy and bold glory, Chichester Psalms takes its text from Psalms 23, 100, 108, 131 and 133, and is sung entirely in Hebrew. The most famous of the text, of course, is Psalm 23, the Psalm of David, with its hallowed and familiar words: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….”

At the time of the work’s creation in the early 1960s, Bernstein was keenly aware of the dangers confronting Israel, which makes Chichester Psalms’ closing lines glow with a prayer of hope: From Psalm 131, “Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth and forever” and from Psalm 133, “Behold how good, and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Like most of Bernstein’s music, Chichester Psalms resonates today as it did then.

The concerts also feature Bernstein’s sparkling Candide Overture; the electrifying Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; the jazzy Prelude, Fugue and Riffs; and his violin concerto, Serenade—along with some surprises.

Tickets for the Virginia Arts Festival Bernstein at 100 concerts are available at vafest.org, along with more information and a video about Leonard Bernstein.

Bernstein at 100—https://goo.gl/woQdWg