There’s a Place For Us

On the trail of Leonard Bern­stein on his 100th birth­day

Forward Magazine - - Travel - By Talya Zax

There are dif­fer­ent lev­els at which one can love Leonard Bern­stein. There’s know­ing all the lyrics to “Some­where”; there’s de­vo­tion to his lesser­known works, like, say, the “Chich­ester Psalms”; then there’s throw­ing a two-year global festival in honor of the cen­ten­nial of his birth.

While that cen­ten­nial doesn’t ar­rive un­til Au­gust 25, the fes­tiv­i­ties al­ready be­gan this past Oc­to­ber. There are, or have been, events ev­ery­where from Fin­land to Iran to Malaysia. Should you be a Bern­stein fan with the travel bug, here are 10 of the best Bern­stein-in­spired trips to em­bark on and at­trac­tions to seek out in 2018.


Vol­un­teer in Puerto Rico

Bern­stein’s best-known work is his mag­nif­i­cent mu­si­cal “West Side Story.” While you’ll have plenty of op­portu ni­ties to see pro­duc­tions of that show, or hear se­lec­tions from it, you can honor Bern­stein’s com­mit­ment to ac­tivism by go­ing to Puerto Rico to as­sist in ef­forts to re­build fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion of Hur­ri­cane Maria. In “Amer­ica,” one of the most fa­mous songs in “West Side Story,” a group of Puerto Ri­cans in New York City sing about the var­i­ous mer­its of each place; the great­est merit of all would be to help their home is­land on its path to­ward re­cov­ery.

2 Say “Kad­dish” in Hun­gary

Bern­stein’s Third Sym­phony, “Kad­dish,” is beloved for its mu­si­cal and emo­tional com­plex­ity. While it will re­ceive spring­time per­for­mances across Europe and the United States, nowhere will it res­onate more than in Poland or Hun­gary, two coun­tries where not only was the Jewish pop­u­la­tion dec­i­mated dur­ing the Holo­caust, but na­tion­al­ist forces and anti-Semitism are once more on the rise. Yes, a visit to those coun­tries may be sober­ing; still, see­ing them in the con­text of “Kad­dish” should prove re­ward­ing to those seek­ing to con­nect with a lost her­itage. Sin­fo­nia Varso­via, fea­tur­ing the War­saw Phil­har­monic Choir and an as­sort­ment of soloists, and con­ducted by Robert Trevino, will per­form “Kad­dish” in War­saw on March 28. It will be pre­sented in Bu­dapest on June 21, per­formed by the Hun­gar­ian Na­tional Phil­har­monic and Na­tional Choir and con­ducted by Zsolt Ha­mar.

3 Ex­plore Bern­stein’s long at­tach­ment to Is­rael

Bern­stein’s professional and per­sonal ties to Is­rael spanned decades. He con­ducted the Is­rael Phil­har­monic Orches­tra, in­au­gu­rated Tel Aviv’s Mann Au­di­to­rium and played for Is­raeli troops dur­ing Is­rael’s War of In­de­pen­dence. On June 16 in Tel Aviv, the Is­rael Phil­har­monic will per­form a con­cert in honor of Bern­stein: “Life Ac­cord­ing to Lenny — Com­mem­o­rat­ing Leonard Bern­stein’s 100th Birth­day.” The con­cert will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity

to re­flect on the ways in which Bern­stein helped shape the young coun­try’s cul­tural scene, and on the po­lit­i­cal shifts — for good and for ill — with which his work co­in­cided.


Cel­e­brate Bern­stein’s birth­day in style in New Mex­ico

Where bet­ter to spend what would have been Bern­stein’s 100th birth­day at the end of Au­gust than Santa Fe, where Bern­stein founded the in­te­grated arts-fo­cused Academy of the Love of Learn­ing? That evening, at­tend the fi­nal per­for­mance of the Santa Fe Opera’s take on Bern­stein’s op­eretta “Can­dide.” (The run opens on June 29.) The Santa Fe Opera is a re­mark­able mu­sic venue, open on both sides to the desert that sur­rounds it; you may travel the world, but you’ll never find a su­pe­rior place in which to med­i­tate on the ways in which mu­sic is in­formed by the nat­u­ral pulse of the out­doors.


Catch an all-Bern­stein bal­let pro­gram in Lon­don

Lon­don’s Royal Bal­let pre­miered Liam Scar­lett’s chore­og­ra­phy of Bern­stein’s sec­ond sym­phony, “The Age of Anx­i­ety,” in 2014. In March, that bal­let will ac­com­pany two world pre­miere works by Christo­pher Wheel­don and Wayne McGre­gor, each set to Bern­stein scores. Wheel­don, who won a Tony Award for his chore­og­ra­phy for the Broad­way mu­si­cal “An Amer­i­can in Paris,” is well re­garded for nar­ra­tive bal­lets, in­clud­ing “Alice in Won­der­land.”


Im­merse your­self in Bern­stein’s un­der­per­formed mas­ter­pieces at Trin­ity Church

Start­ing in April, Man­hat­tan’s Trin­ity Church Wall Street will present the pro­gram “TO­TAL EM­BRACE: Leonard Bern­stein at 100.” Spot­light­ing Bern­stein’s more in­fre­quently per­formed reper­toire along­side the out­put of com­posers and con­duc­tors from Gus­tav Mahler to Esa-Pekka Salo­nen, the se­ries of weekly lunchtime con­certs cul­mi­nates in a week­end of free of­fer­ings, both mati­nees and evening per­for­mances, be­gin­ning on May 31. On the pro­gram is a se­lec­tion from Bern­stein’s “Dyb­buk,” his “Four An­niver­saries for the Pi­ano,” “Kad­dish” and works by Mahler, Salo­nen and Pierre Boulez, among oth­ers.


Ex­pe­ri­ence Bern­stein’s ded­i­ca­tion to Mahler in Man­hat­tan

On Fe­bru­ary 25, the New York Phil­har­monic will honor Bern­stein’s love for Mahler by play­ing, be­gin­ning at 10 a.m., 13 hours of Bern­stein’s record­ings of Mahler’s com­plete sym­phonies. The free event, which will take place in the atrium of David Gef­fen Hall, will in­clude live read­ings of words Bern­stein wrote about his in­flu­en­tial and tor­mented pre­de­ces­sor and, for true devo­tees, pro­jected im­ages of Bern­stein’s own marked-up scores of Mahler’s mu­sic.


Book a last-minute trip to Ja­pan for a trib­ute to Bern­stein — in snow

The like­li­hood that you can make it to Ja­pan for this year’s Sap­poro Snow Festival is slim; the pro­gram runs Fe­bru­ary 5–12. If, for some rea­son, you’re able to travel at a mo­ment’s no­tice, the festival, a branch of the Bern­stein-founded Pa­cific Mu­sic Festival, will honor Bern­stein’s cen­ten­nial by mak­ing a sculp­ture of him out of snow and hold­ing per­for­mances in front of it all week long.


At­tend a day­long Bern­stein festival in New York

Yes, a num­ber of th­ese at­trac­tions are in Man­hat­tan. For much of Bern­stein’s life, New York City was his home as well as the site of his most fruitful and long-stand­ing creative part­ner­ships. On May 19, Sym­phony Space will cel­e­brate his life and work with eight hours of free events, in­clud­ing a par­tial stag­ing of “Trou­ble in Tahiti,” dance per­for­mances set to Bern­stein’s work, dis­cus­sions of his legacy, some of which will fea­ture mem­bers of his fam­ily, and per­for­mances of his chamber and choral mu­sic.


Visit Bern­stein’s beloved Tan­gle­wood

Tan­gle­wood hosts the Bos­ton Sym­phony Orches­tra’s summer mu­sic festival and played an in­te­gral role in Bern­stein’s ca­reer. At 22 years old, Bern­stein par­tic­i­pated in a con­duct­ing course af­fil­i­ated with the festival. Serge Kous­se­vitzky, who shortly af­ter­ward made Bern­stein his as­sis­tant, led it. Bern­stein con­ducted the last con­cert of his life at Tan­gle­wood, a few months be­fore his death in 1990; since that first course with Kous­se­vitzky, Bern­stein par­tic­i­pated in the festival as a con­duc­tor and teacher in a near-an­nual rit­ual. In honor of Bern­stein’s cen­ten­nial, Tan­gle­wood will ar­range its 2018 sea­son around his works as a com­poser and his great­est achieve­ments as a con­duc­tor.

Talya Zax is the For­ward’s deputy cul­ture edi­tor. Contact her at zax@for­

CAPULET IN CAPEZIOS: Bern­stein’s clas­sic ‘West Side Story.’

ISN’T IT RO­MAN­TIC? Hear Bern­stein’s ren­der­ings of Mahler at David Gef­fen Hall.

Mahler, like Bern­stein, had been a con­duc­tor of the New York Phil­har­monic. Above, a por­trait of Mahler by Arnold


SOUNDS COOL: A snow sculp­ture of Bern­stein will pre­side over a con­cert se­ries at this year’s Sap­poro Snow Festival.

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