America’s most important music figure was many things to many people: conductor, composer, pianist, educator, author, television personality, activist, international bon vivant. But if you asked Leonard Bernstein how he self-identified, he thought of himself as a composer.Read More
The floodtide of events with which Ravinia celebrated Bernstein’s 100th birthday in 2018 was only the beginning. The grand celebration continues for a second festival summer with nearly a dozen Bernstein-themed programs curated by the American conductor Marin Alsop, Bernstein’s final (and only female) protégé and one of the world’s most prominent champions of his music.Read More
Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, who will be the soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony at Ravinia on Sunday, August 19, “discovered” her exceptional voice when, in her senior year, she auditioned for the high school choir near her home in Lakewood, WA. When the choir director heard her, Bridges was immediately urged to begin studying professionally.
“My family enjoyed music, all kinds,” Bridges explained during a telephone interview with Ravinia Magazine in late June. “My Dad has a beautiful voice, and he sang with the Sons of Thunder choir at the Allen A.M.E. Church in Tacoma. I began taking piano lessons when I was 5, but no one [in the family] was a professional.” The new adventure of voice lessons became a revelation. “I just loved singing so much,” she said. Even though Bridges was captain of her high school basketball team and had college sports scholarships on the horizon, she audaciously auditioned at top American conservatories and music schools.
Three of Beethoven’s seismic symphonies are featured on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Ravinia residency this summer, and Alsop heads up the pack on July 14 with the world-moving Ninth, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus and soloists soprano Tamara Wilson, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, tenor Paul Appleby, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. Gustavo Dudamel makes his eagerly awaited debut leading the Seventh on July 18 with an all-Beethoven program that also features his longtime, equally starry collaborator Yuja Wang performing the First Piano Concerto. Last, but not least, of Ravinia’s triptych is the Fifth, fated to be feted in the hands of Vasily Petrenko on August 4.
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.