Recent News
12.12.18
Keith Lockhart
KEITH LOCKHART JOINS THE ROSTER
12.10.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Classical Album of the Week: Vienna Boys Choir Sings Strauss
WRTI
12.07.18
JoAnn Falletta, Mariss Jansons, David Alan Miller, Peter Oundjian, Patrick Summers, Alexandre Tharaud, Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider , Mason Bates, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Academy of St Martin in the Fields , Les Violons du Roy , Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nathan Gunn
2019 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
12.07.18
New York Philharmonic String Quartet , Yefim Bronfman
Bronfman, NY Philharmonic Quartet impress at Linton Series
Cincinnati Business Courier
12.06.18
Aaron Diehl
Pianist Diehl in jazz trio plays varied concert in Palm Beach
Palm Beach Daily News
12.06.18
Julian Wachner
This Is the Best ‘Messiah’ in New York
The New York Times
12.04.18
Sir Andrew Davis
ELGAR The Music Makers. The Spirit of England (Davis)
Gramophone
12.03.18
Chanticleer
Chanticleer Christmas concert, 11/30/18
Divamensch
12.01.18
Ward Stare
Twin pianists deliver impeccable style in ‘Perfect Pairs’ concert
Sarasota Herald Tribune
11.27.18
Richard Kaufman
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME
Broadway World

News archive »

BSO Makes Bernstein's 'Mass' Something to Celebrate

10.18.08
Marin Alsop
Washington Post

BALTIMORE -- Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" is due for some reassessment. While not without its champions over the years, this hybrid work embracing classical, avant-garde, rock, blues, Broadway and world music has drawn much critical drubbing -- for its crazy-quilt of styles, purported showbiz gloss, countercultural agenda and brash questioning of traditional religion -- since its premiere as the inaugural production at the newly built Kennedy Center in 1971. But as performed Thursday at Meyerhoff Hall by the Baltimore Symphony, under Bernstein protege Marin Alsop's disciplined baton, the seldom-revived "Mass" re-emerged as the moving and visionary piece it's always been -- arguably the best thing Bernstein ever wrote.

And there will be more chances to hear this work. The BSO will present it in Baltimore again Saturday, and at the Kennedy Center on Oct. 26.

The work's 32 numbers (some of which were pre-recorded and played over the Meyerhoff's sound system) are scored for huge forces -- here including a rock band, the Morgan State University Choir and Marching Band, the Peabody Children's Chorus, a "Street Chorus" composed of 17 cannily chosen young singers from Broadway and the opera stage (who functioned as soloists and ensemble), boy soprano Asher Edward Wulfman and, in the role of "the Celebrant," Jubilant Sykes -- who alternated between a full-throated operatic baritone and a wispy pop croon, and whose acting had a touching, gentle glow.

Commissioned by John F. Kennedy's widow, "Mass" not only expressed the anger and frustration of its composer but functioned as something of a "JFK Requiem" -- both for the man and for the hopes of the generation grappling with his death. Accordingly, Bernstein has the members of his Street Chorus rail against a silent God and an ever-weakening Celebrant, while choral settings of the Latin Mass (written in the composer's best bluesy-Anglican, "Chichester Psalms" style) strive for supremacy.

Echoes of Bernstein's scores to "West Side Story," "Candide" and the "Kaddish" Symphony are unmistakable, and Alsop pointed up the music's debts to Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Orff and Weill, as well. Wisely, all the soloists were miked, giving prominence to the Sondheim-worthy lyrics by Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz, and helping the "Dona Nobis Pacem" achieve its scorching effect.