To borrow the name of one of his popular tunes: Something’s coming! In 2018 Ravinia will launch a two-season centennial tribute to one of the all-time legends of American music, conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein, and in 2019 will open the Ravinia Music Box experience center with an exhibit of important mementos from Bernstein’s life and storied career, including his personal piano.
“There aren’t enough hyphens to string together all of Bernstein’s titles and accomplishments, and Ravinia is hoping to present a well-rounded remembrance of both the common man and the superstar artist who shaped so much of our musical tastes and understanding,” Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman said. “Of course, there’s the Laureate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic and the genius behind West Side Story, but there’s also the iconoclast, the man who defended melody in era that was atonal in so many ways, and the charismatic leader at home at the glitziest parties and in the grittiest political movements. He lived life large, and his legacy merits global celebration.”
Ravinia’s celebration intends to comment on each aspect of the multi-hyphenate’s career with performances of the compositions he penned, films he scored, composers he championed, and artists he influenced. Bernstein’s credits include being Music Director of the New York Philharmonic; a composer of symphonies, the original film score for On the Waterfront, and Broadway megahits like West Side Story and Candide; and host of the popular televised “Young People’s Concerts,” which many fondly recall as their introduction to classical music—a point of pride for the highly regarded mentor.
Central to Ravinia’s celebration will be the two-year appointment of Marin Alsop—one of Bernstein’s final protégés—as the first musical “curator” in the festival’s 113-year history. “Working with Leonard Bernstein was a dream come true for me. His generosity of mind and spirit changed my life and those of countless others who he never personally met,” Alsop said. “He inspired generations of music makers and music lovers and profoundly influenced the 20th century’s relationship with this universal art form. As conductor, composer, thinker, educator, author, television star, and citizen of the world, Bernstein’s legacy reflects his enormous contributions to society on so many levels. I am honored and thrilled to curate Ravinia’s exciting tribute to this incredible and amazing American icon.”