CROATIAN RADIO AND TELEVISION SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
ZAGREB CROATIAN NATIONAL THEATRE CHOIR
WEST GERMAN RADIO (WDR) CHILDREN’S CHOIR
JUBILANT SYKES, Baritone
JOHN AXELROD, Conductor
The 100th Anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's Birth
L. Bernstein: Mass
“Few composers capture their time and become the iconic voice of their age,” conductor John Mauceri said, referring to one of America's most prominent composers, pianists and conductors Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990). He was popular and famous as a conductor, pianist and composer. He was the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic for eleven years. He often played solo parts of the concert literature, while conducting the accompanying orchestras at the same time. He composed ballet, film and theatre music, operas, chamber and solo music imbued with elements of jazz, blues, rock, pop, cabaret, Jewish music, classical music and its modern-age techniques, under the influence of composers such as Copland, Stravinsky, Milhaud, Gershwin and Blitzstein. Some of his works, especially the globally popular West Side Story, bridged the gap between classical and popular music; the same could be said for his Mass. Bernstein wrote it in 1971 at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy, in memory of the killed American President J. F. Kennedy. It premiered at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. Born to Russian-Jewish parents, a social liberal and activist, he surprised with his choice – to compose a musical theatre work based on the Roman Catholic Mass. Bernstein added his own ideas and texts written by Stephen Schwartz to the Latin Mass model, raising the issue of faith crisis and cultural breakdown of the post-Kennedy era, burdened with the nightmare of the Vietnam War. Although the beginning of Mass is intertwined with elements of resignation and hopelessness, the end carries the message of peace and faith that will bring the good - both within and outside man. That message of hope will be brought to the Zagreb audience by numerous choir singers and soloists, the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and Choir, with a guest appearance by the West German Radio (WDR) Children's Choir under world-renowned conductor John Axelrod.