Colorado Springs celebrates Leonard Bernstein centennial 

click to enlarge The worldwide Leonard Bernstein centennial celebration will include a six-week festival here in Colorado Springs.
  • The worldwide Leonard Bernstein centennial celebration will include a six-week festival here in Colorado Springs.
If your New Year’s resolutions include taking in more art music and/or symphonic works, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic has you covered, as they kick off the new year by launching into the centerpiece of their 2017-18 season.

The Best of All Possible Worlds, a six-week festival dedicated to one of America’s most renowned composers, Leonard Bernstein, acts as a centennial celebration of Bernstein and his works, comprising five concert weekends, broadcasts, lectures, film viewings, and more.

Bernstein was among the first U.S.-born conductors and educators to receive worldwide acclaim. In addition to being an unparalleled composer and pianist — New York Times critic Donal Henahan proclaimed him “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history” — he also was an outspoken political activist and advocate for peace and civil rights. As such, he was one of many Americans named as “Communist influences” in the 1950s, alongside fellow composer Aaron Copland and folk singer Pete Seeger.

The concert series begins Jan. 27 and 28 at the Pikes Peak Center with a program featuring Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 — Jeremiah, based on a text from the Book of Lamentations. Also included in the program are Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, along with Gustav Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. Mahler’s inclusion, by the way, isn’t random, as Bernstein was instrumental in introducing the Austrian composer to American audiences.
And for those of you who saw the name “Bernstein” and are itching to experience a multi-media version of his best-known work, West Side Story, you’ll have to hold on until March 2 and 3, when the Philharmonic performs a live score to accompany the Oscar-winning 1961 film adaptation. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of other great Bernstein works to catch in the February interim — check csphilharmonic.org for the full festival lineup.

(By the way, I’m legally obligated to tell everyone within earshot that the film adaptation of West Side Story, if you didn’t already know, features two actors who went on to appear in Twin Peaks. Have fun with that!)

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