The work of famed composer, conductor and educator Leonard Bernstein is showcased in the rousing musical special A CELEBRATION OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN. Opera stars Dawn Upshaw and Thomas Hampson, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and Broadway’s Christine Ebersole join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony at Carnegie Hall as they celebrate the 90th anniversary of the maestro’s birth.
The music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969 and Laureate Conductor from 1969 to 1990, Leonard Bernstein brought his own particular New World sensibility to classical music. Equally at home in a Broadway theater or concert hall, the beloved “Lenny” – who performed at Carnegie Hall more than 400 times during his career – had an enthusiasm for an understanding of music far beyond his classical realm, extending into jazz, world music, and 1960s pop and rock.
The performance features music from a wide variety of Bernstein’s stage works. Tilson Thomas leads the Symphony in Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Danzón from Three Dances from Fancy Free. Dawn Upshaw and Thomas Hampson join the Orchestra for selections from A Quiet Place, and Hampson and Yo-Yo Ma perform “To What You Said” from Songfest. Ma also performs Bernstein’s Meditation No. 1 from Mass.
Upshaw is featured as soloist on “What a Movie” from Trouble in Tahiti, and vocal and drama students from The Juilliard School perform “Gee, Officer Krupke” from West Side Story. Broadway star Christine Ebersole sings “I Can Cook, Too” from On The Town and Upshaw, Hampson, Ma, and Ebersole unite to perform the rousing finale, “Ya Got Me,” from the same show.
"It’s hard to bring off this kind of populist mix without seeming to pander. But Michael Tilson Thomas has the breadth, depth, and showmanship to do it."
The New York Times
"From the opening prologue, the music was driving yet imbued with a nuance and coloration that made the familiar music entirely fresh."
San Francisco Chronicle
"…performed with rare, infectious gusto by Thomas and an all-star ensemble."
New York Daily News
Produced by Carnegie Hall and Thirteen/WNET New York in association with the San Francisco Symphony. 2008