Leonard Bernstein: Vocal Music with a Jewish resonance

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This year marks the centennial of American composer Leonard Bernstein’s birth. Venues all over the world are celebrating with Bernstein concerts. In Tacoma Temple Beth El will host a concert of Bernstein’s music June 2. File photo

Leonard Bernstein is being celebrated throughout 2017-2019 in concerts and performances around the world marking the 100th year of his birth. He was born Aug. 25, 1918.

Tacoma’s Temple Beth El will host a concert celebrating Bernstein on June 2, 7-9 p.m. Temple Beth El’s annual Reutlinger Music Concert is proud to be included as an official Leonard Bernstein celebration featuring Cantor Geoffrey Fine and concert pianist and University of Puget Sound staff accompanist Jinshil Yi. This free and unusual concert will explore Bernstein’s ability to infuse part of his Jewish n’shamah, or soul, both purposely and even subconsciously into many of his vocal masterpieces.

Bernstein, who died in 1990 at age 72, was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the U.S. to receive worldwide acclaim. As the long-term music director of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein conducted concerts with most of the world’s leading orchestras. He is known for his music for “West Side Story,” “Peter Pan,” “Candide,” “Wonderful Town,” “On the Town,” “On the Waterfront,” his “Mass” and a range of other compositions, including three symphonies and many shorter chamber and solo works.

Bernstein was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. He was a skilled pianist, often conducting piano concertos from the keyboard.

As a composer, he wrote in many styles encompassing symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, film and theatre music, choral works, opera, chamber music and pieces for the piano. 

More than a thousand concerts all over the globe will be celebrating the centennial of Bernstein’s birth. In addition to the popular composer’s home country (he was born in Lawrence, Mass.) there will be Bernstein concerts in places as far away as Malaysia and Taiwan. A Bernstein concert in Braunau, Austria, birthplace of Hitler, should prove especially triumphal.

The Tacoma Bernstein concert at Temple Beth El will feature familiar songs from “West Side Story,” “Candide” and “Mass,” plus lesser-performed gems. The music will be presented in an informative and performative style.

Seating in the main concert hall is limited, so arrive early to get a good seat. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Temple Beth El is located at 5975 S .12th St. in Tacoma.

For more information, call (253) 564-7101 or visit www.facebook.com/events/2140829289483106.

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