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Planet Bernstein: Rewriting the Rules for Jazz

Aug 2, 2015
36-year-old composer Leonard Bernstein, holding musical score with lighted auditorium behind him. He has written two symphonies, a song cycle, jazzy ballet Fancy Free, two Broadway shows (on the Town, Wonderful Town) and is preparing a musical of Candide.  (Photo by Gordon Parks//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

36-year-old composer Leonard Bernstein, holding musical score with lighted auditorium behind him. He has written two symphonies, a song cycle, jazzy ballet Fancy Free, two Broadway shows (on the Town, Wonderful Town) and is preparing a musical of Candide. (Photo by Gordon Parks//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Swing, jive, feel alive.

Muse/Ique artistic director and conductor Rachel Worby is taking Leonard Bernstein to another level during a jam session on August 8th with Dee Dee Bridgewater who, according to the Amsterdam News (3.26.2015), is “the most dynamite female jazz vocalist of this century.”

In this raucous evening—”Jazz/Genesis” on August 8th—the artists of MUSE/IQUE recreate Bernstein’s hot fusion of classical and jazz influences into something wild and wonderful. Dee Dee uncovers the sultry secrets behind songs like “Big Stuff” and composers like Sondheim, Gershwin, and Porter. And our orchestra performs Bernstein’s only original film score—his brilliant and mischievous music from On the Waterfront. (Muse-Ique.com)

On August 29th, the last of the Planet Bernstein concerts will be held. “In/Side Story” delves into Bernstein’s classic West Side Story and re-imagines it on the streets of today. Original songs like “Maria,” “Somewhere,” and “Tonight” will be “paired with unexpected classics from the Beatles, Paul Simon, and more.”

The evening’s performance “is punctuated by poetry from Sekou Andrews and dance grooves from local legends Frit and Frat Fuller of KIN Dance.”

Channeling our inner Bernstein, we blend elements of opera, hip-hop, jazz, classical and modern dance into one extraordinary experience of this timeless tale.

 

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Caltech Beckman Mall lawn

 

Through his conducting and interpretation, his passion and exuberance, Bernstein popularized classical music in America and around the world like no other before him. We should thank Bernstein’s mentors, which included none other than Dmitri Mitropoulos, George Gershwin, Aaron Copeland, and Serge Koussevitzky. And while his peers were drafted into World War II, we should be grateful that Bernstein was asthmatic, which kept him stateside and in the right place at exactly the right time.

At 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 14, 1943, Artur Rodzinsky, music director of the New York Philharmonic, gave the nod, allowing Bernstein to fill in for the ailing Bruno Walter in the Sunday afternoon concert.

On the program: Schumann’s Manfred Overture, Rosza’s new Theme, Variations and Finale, Strauss’s Don Quixote and Wagner’s Meistersinger Overture. Because of his youth and inexperience, it was expected that Bernstein would simply follow the orchestra rather than actually lead.

 

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It didn’t work out that way. You just couldn’t believe a young man could create that kind of music. Here were players in their fifties and sixties with long experience. And here this little snot-nose comes in and creates a more exciting performance. We were supposed to have gone over it with Bruno Walter, we had rehearsed it with him and performed it with him, and this had nothing to do with Bruno Walter. The orchestra stood up and cheered. We were open-mouthed. That man was the most extraordinary musician I have ever met in my life. (Philharmonic violinist Jacques Margolis, ClassicalNotes.net)

Muse\Ique pays tribute to this extraordinary man and musician, Leonard Bernstein. Come join the fun.

 

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Planet Bernstein
Saturday, August 8th & 29th,
Caltech Beckman Mall lawn
332 S. Michigan Ave., Pasadena 91106
Cost: $20-$250
For more info, visit Muse\Ique

 

Bernstein conducting through the years…

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~~~

Photo, top right: New York Post, 1955.

Photo, Leonard Bernstein, older, by Marion S. Trikosko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.




3 Responses for “Planet Bernstein: Rewriting the Rules for Jazz”

  1. You didn’t mention that the inimitable Mike Simpson (Fight Club, Odelay, Paul’s Boutique, and more) has created a new and contemporary ‘take’ on Bernstein’s music for “On The Waterfront.

  2. Kat Ward says:

    Thank you for mentioning it, Alice!

  3. I’ll be there to hoot, holler and clap as loud as I can!
    Proud Mother

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