For Lenny

“Expect glamor with substance” 
— David Patrick Stearns – WQXR: New York’s Classical Music Station on Lara’s new album “For Lenny: an Intimate Tribute to Leonard Bernstein and his American Legacy”

Acclaimed pianist and recording artist Lara Downes brings Leonard Bernstein to life through Lenny’s lesser-known “Anniversaries for Piano” and new works created as anniversary pieces for Lenny himself written by contemporary artists. Bernstein’s son and middle child, Alexander Bernstein, shares stories from the stage as part of the performance.

Jonathan Sarna Lectures on Leonard Bernstein at 100

Leonard Bernstein Exhibit at the AMJH. Head and hands, conducting. By permission of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Leonard Bernstein Exhibit

Historian Dr. Jonathan Sarna visited Philadelphia to introduce the new exhibit on the life of composer Leonard Bernstein at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH).

The exhibit traces Bernstein from birth in 1918 in Massachusetts, through his student days, his studies in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, (where he attended the Curtis Institute) and his debut as a conductor replacing the ailing Bruno Walter. Uniquely among Jewish composers, Bernstein took an active interest in Jewish affairs and Israel, according to Sarna. Memorabilia in the exhibit confirm this, including excerpts from Bernstein’s correspondence, speeches, and orchestral and movie film clips. In his own terms and through his papers, Bernstein emerges as constantly striving to achieve more compositions, more performances and at the same time, to maintain close contacts with family, friends and Jewish life. [Read more…]

Former Vice President Joe Biden Honored at Jewish Museum Gala

Vice President Joe Biden seated with Ron Rubin, co-chair of the gala committee and a presenting sponsor.

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) honored Vice President Joe Biden at the museum’s annual Only in America Gala, held at The Bellevue Philadelphia on April 24. [Read more…]

Leonard Bernstein Exhibit Inspires at NMAJH

At the press preview for the “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” exhibit at NMAJH. From left to right: Ivy Weingram, Alexander Bernstein, Nina Bernstein, and CEO and Gwen Goodman Director of NMAJH Ivy Barsky. Photo credit: Bonnie Squires

Maybe you thought you knew a lot about Leonard Bernstein — or maybe just the Broadway show or film “West Side Story.”

But you will learn a lot more about the legendary Jewish-American composer’s history and accomplishments after a visit to “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” the  latest exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH).

Ivy Weingram, is the curator — or more appropriately, conductor — of the impressive exhibit, which is in tribute to Bernstein’s hundredth anniversary. Worldwide, countless events have taken place, and will continue to occur throughout 2018, to celebrate the deceased music icon. Philadelphia has already had its fair share of events honoring Bernstein, including “Lenny’s Revolution,” a concert conducted by Bernstein’s protégée, David Charles Abell, and the Philly POPS orchestra.

[Read more…]

“Lenny’s Revolution” Celebrates Leonard Bernstein – and the Eagles Too

 

Philly POPS and an Eagles mascot forming a conga line. Photo: The Philly POPS Facebook page.

“Fly, Eagles, fly on the road to victory.”

As one would expect, the 2018 Super Bowl Champions’ anthem has been sung across Philly, from sports bars to the victory parade on February 9. But one might not expect The Philly POPS to also get into the green.

But that’s exactly what the orchestra did at the Kimmel Center during “Lenny’s Revolution,” a tribute concert to the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. [Read more…]

Lenny’s Revolution: A Centennial Bernstein Celebration With David Charles Abell

By now you must have seen all the ads announcing Lenny’s Revolution: A Centennial Bernstein Celebration, with David Charles Abell and The Philly POPS. Maestro Abell, the principal guest conductor of the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra, is flying back from London for the Leonard Bernstein celebration concerts, which will be held on February 2 – 4 at the Kimmel Center.

I was able to interview Mr. Abell (pronounced “uh-BELL”) by phone while he was in London. During our conversation, he shared his Philadelphia roots with me, and mentioned that he still has relatives who live in Chestnut Hill. [Read more…]

Leonard Bernstein Concert Draws Large Audience in Elkins Park

From left to right, some of the cantors who organized the concert: Cantor Joshua Gordon, Cantor Amy Levy, cantorial soloist Rebecca Schwartz, Hazzan Jeffrey Weber, Hazzan David Tilman, Cantor Elena Zarkh

From left to right, some of the cantors who organized the concert: Cantor Joshua Gordon, Cantor Amy Levy, cantorial soloist Rebecca Schwartz, Hazzan Jeffrey Weber, Hazzan David Tilman, Cantor Elena Zarkh

The coming 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth was the occasion for a concert of his music at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel. The concert was produced by the Kehillah of Old York Road and cosponsored by the Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Under the direction of Hazzan David Tilman, cantors, other soloists and a chorus of forty voices delivered Bernstein music from his show “West Side Story,” from his operetta “Candide,” and from his more serious symphonic work “Mass.” The concert concluded with a full performance of the three movements of “Chichester Psalms.” Solo performers included Hazzan Jeffrey Weber, Elizabeth Weigel, Rebecca Schwartz, and in the performance of “Chichester Psalms,” boy soprano Owen Yoder, who brought the audience to its feet with applause.

The Kehillah of Old York Road is comprised of Congregations Adath Jeshurun, Beth Am, Beth Sholom, Keneseth Israel and Kol Ami, all located in Elkins Park. The event marked twelve years of joint activity by the Kehillah and attracted about eight hundred guests.