"Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds," running from September 24 to December 13. 2008, will feature more than 30 events at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall (home of the Philharmonic), New York City Center and other venues. The offerings will encompass classical music, jazz, musical theater, film screenings, panel discussions and visual exhibitions.
Among the festival's educational ventures will be "The Bernstein Mass Project." Conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will work with students from New York City public schools to present two complete performances (October 24-25) of the composer's famous anti-war music-theater piece; an additional program will feature choral music inspired by Bernstein's score and composed by participating students.
The festival begins on September 24 with the gala opening night of Carnegie Hall's 2008-09 season, featuring the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the orchestra's music director and probably Bernstein's most famous prot_g_. Soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw and Thomas Hampson will be on hand for a program concentrating on Bernstein's music for the stage, including the orchestral suite from the ballet Fancy Free, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and selections from A Quiet Place, Mass, Songfest, Candide, Wonderful Town and On the Town.
The New York Philharmonic will present three major programs featuring Bernstein's three symphonies. On September 25 _27, Philharmonic music director Lorin Maazel leads the orchestra in the Second Symphony, "The Age of Anxiety," alongside works by three other Philharmonic music directors: Gustav Mahler, Pierre Boulez and Maazel himself. David Robertson conducts an all-American program on October 30 _November 1, featuring Bernstein's Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah," and music by Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Christopher Rouse. And on November 24, in a collaboration with The Juilliard School, New York Philharmonic music director designate Alan Gilbert conducts The Juilliard Orchestra in the Third Symphonies of Bernstein ("Kaddish") and Beethoven ("Eroica").
Gilbert conducts a special program on November 14 to mark the 65th anniversary of the young Bernstein's star-making performance as a last-minute substitute for the ailing conductor Bruno Walter in a nationally broadcast Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall. Gilbert's concert, a now-rare appearance by the Philharmonic at Carnegie, will include the orchestral suites from On the Waterfront and West Side Story as well as Serenade, with soprano Ana Mar‹a Mart‹nez and tenor Paul Groves.
On November 16, conducting dynamo Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's music director designate, will lead the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in two scores Bernstein wrote for that orchestra: the flute concerto Halil and the Concerto for Orchestra, subtitled "Jubilee Games."
For the musical theater component of "Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds," New York City Center's Encores! will produce On the Town in one of the series' trademark concert stagings. Casting will be announced later.
The festival's jazz and popular song offerings include soprano Christiane Noll and The New York Pops in a program called "The Bernstein Songbook" (October 17), pianist/singer Michael Feinstein in an evening of the composer's tunes at Zankel Hall (October 22), and a special jazz tribute by the Bill Charlap Trio, also at Zankel (December 10).
Bernstein's prolific work in film and television will be explored in two series in Manhattan. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, in cooperation with Lincoln Center, Inc. and the Philharmonic, presents "The Joy of Music: Leonard Bernstein on Film" at the Walter Reade Theater (October 15 _November 1), exploring his film television appearances performing and explaining classical music. The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television and Radio) offers "Bernstein's Broadway" (November 8 _23), featuring several television adaptations of the composer's musical theater work, including some programs never before seen in the U.S.
The final concert of "Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds," on December 13 at Zankel Hall, is "Arias, Barcarolles, A Sonata, and Riffs." This program of chamber music and songs features mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, baritone Rod Gilfry, clarinetist Ricardo Morales, pianist Jeremy Denk, and members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic led by Robert Spano, who will perform as both conductor and pianist.
No ballet or modern dance component to the festival was mentioned in today's announcement, though it is possible that one or more of New York's dance institutions may announce a presentation of one of Bernstein's dance scores, such as Fancy Free or Dybbuk, at a later date.
Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic will each offer an exhibition as part of the festival. At Avery Fisher Hall, "The Scores Behind the Music" will focus on Bernstein's markings in his conducting scores. (Correspondence and memos from the maestro will be featured as well.) In its Rose Museum, Carnegie Hall will display programs photos, original manuscripts, notes from Bernstein's famous Norton Lectures at Harvard, and other materials from Carnegie's own archives and The Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress.
In conjunction with the festival and timed to coincide with the two anniversaries next fall, HarperCollins will publish Leonard Bernstein: American Original — How a Modern Renaissance Man Transformed Music and the World During His New York Philharmonic Years, 1943 _1976. Authored by the composer's brother Burton and New York Philharmonic Archivist/Historian Barbara Haws, the book will feature essays by composer John Adams, scholar and commentator Joseph Horowitz, public radio host Bill McGlaughlin of St. Paul Sunday, critics Tim Page and Alan Rich, and others, as well as rare photographs and letters.
Complete programming and ticket information for "Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds," including updates as they become available, can be found at www.bernsteinfestival.org.