American composer

Ravinia’s “Bernstein 101” continues the legacy of the great American composer


The centenary celebrations linked to the birth of the late composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein officially ended last year. But the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park keeps the party going with “Bernstein 101: The Celebration Continues”, featuring a series of classical concerts, stage performances, film screenings and the Grammy Museum’s traveling exhibit “Leonard Bernstein at 100”. .

“We realized even before we got to Bernstein’s centenary last summer that there was so much going on with him as a conductor, composer, pianist, great music teacher, activist – so many facets of this most wonderful of American musicians, ”said Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman.

Bernstein (1918-1990) conducted only 13 performances at Ravinia, making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 75 years ago in 1944. But with globe-trotting conductor Marin Alsop on the team of Ravinia as “artistic curator”, it made sense to celebrate Bernstein. because she was one of his last students and proteges to pursue an important career.

His three children with the late Felicia Montealegre are other living ties with Bernstein: Jamie, Alexander and Nina. Jamie Bernstein returns to Ravinia this summer to promote his father’s legacy as a concert narrator and shortlisted panelist at two Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances: “Lenny: A Musical Portrait in Symphony, Song and Story “Saturday July 27 and” On the Waterfront “(a live performance of Bernstein’s score for the 1954 film).


Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein, is the narrator of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert “Lenny: A Musical Portrait in Symphony, Song and Story” on Thursday, July 27, and a pre-selection speaker of “On the Waterfront” on Friday. , August 9, at the Ravinia festival.
– Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

“We are so delighted that Ravinia has decided that they are not done celebrating,” said Jamie Bernstein. “My brother, sister and I really love our father’s music, so it’s no problem to have seen so many concerts and performances and to hear his music played all over the world.”

As a writer, Jamie Bernstein took the lead among his siblings in promoting his late father’s work. She shared many frowning impressions and details, including family drug use, in the 2018 revealing memoir “Famous Father Girl,” which was published in paperback this week. The title of the book comes from a playground taunt Jamie received as a child.



Conductor Marin Alsop was a protégé of the late composer / conductor Leonard Bernstein.  She is actively involved in the Ravinia Festival "Bernstein 101: the celebration continues" performance series.

Conductor Marin Alsop was a protégé of the late composer / conductor Leonard Bernstein. She is actively involved in the performance series “Bernstein 101: The Celebration Continues” of the Ravinia Festival.
– Courtesy of Adriane White

“I got my brother and sister involved from the start of the project and told them they had full veto power over anything I wrote,” said Jamie Bernstein. “My rule of thumb was that any detail you try to suppress or obscure will come back and bite you.”

Jamie Bernstein recorded last year’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance of “Mass,” a massive 1971 oratorio Bernstein wrote to open the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, as one of the best she has ever seen. This sold-out performance, starring Tony Award-winning opera baritone Paulo Szot as “the celebrant,” generated so much buzz and demand for tickets that Kauffman and Alsop scheduled a reminder of “Mass” on Saturday July 20.

Szot is the soloist for the July 27 concert, and he is also the lead man opposite soprano Patricia Racette for two Chicago Philharmonic performances of “Trouble in Tahiti”. Bernstein’s 1952 one-act opera is actually named Highland Park in its lyrics listing suburban enclaves full of surface bliss.



The 1961 film version "West Side Story" will be screened with live accompaniment by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Ravinia on Friday, July 12.

The 1961 film version of “West Side Story” will premiere with live accompaniment by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Ravinia on Friday, July 12.
– Courtesy of United Artists / MGM

The Grammy Museum’s “Leonard Bernstein at 100” exhibit is scheduled for late July.

Both Kauffman and Jamie Bernstein are hoping to see two big Leonard Bernstein-related film projects coming up. A remake of “West Side Story” directed by Steven Spielberg is now in production, so another generation will have the chance to fall in love with the music of Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim. A potential biopic starring Bradley Cooper is also in the works.

“Leonard Bernstein is someone we’ll be celebrating for several seasons,” Kauffman said. “He has such a huge impact on the world today, even though he’s been away for so long.”


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