Prelude, Fugue & Riffs

In the News

Gustavo Dudamel Receives Award

Last November in New York, Conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela received the 2007 WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award.

Alexander Bernstein presented the award. "This award is given in special recognition of an organization or person that has made an exceptional contribution to expanding the boundaries of classical music," said Alexander Bernstein, when presenting the award at Carnegie Hall before a rehearsal. "This orchestra, you, Maestro Dudamel, and the awesome ‘System' put in place in Venezuela by Dr. José Antonio Abreu embody the spirit and purpose of my father's entire life in music and education. Your fearlessness, hard work, commitment, love and respect for one another, and sheer joy in music-making are a marvel that would surely leave even Leonard Bernstein speechless. José Antonio Abreu... has shown that music is a force for social change," said Bernstein.

The award is part of a partnership between WQXR, the New York Times-owned-andoperated classical music radio station (96.3 FM) and the British magazine, Gramophone.

The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela was founded in 1975 by Dr. Abreu, an economist and musician, under the auspices of the Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela (as El Sistema is formally known). The scope of El Sistema's reach, along with the extraordinary musicians it has produced, including Dudamel, have turned it into an unparalleled national achievement.

Candide Everywhere

Eclectic as Bernstein was, his work has a thumbprint that grows more distinct as time passes. Everything about the melodies and rhythms of songs like The Best of All Possible Worlds, Glitter and Be Gay, Auto da Fé and Make Our Garden Grow tells you that they're Bernstein's; if you knew his music but hadn't heard these pieces before, you would guess their authorship in a matter of seconds.
– Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

[To Mr. Kozinn, we say "Hear, hear!"]

Like its eponymous globe-trotter, Candide the musical is all over the map this year. This spring, the New York City Opera presented fourteen performances of its acclaimed production directed by Harold Prince. Meanwhile, across the ocean in Dresden, Germany, the Staatsoperette continues to present performances of its innovative, critically acclaimed production. In June, The English National Opera will present the London premiere of the controversial Robert Carsen production that raised eyebrows as well as ovations last year at the Châtelet in Paris and La Scala in Milan. Crossing back over the ocean, Candide-style, to the United States, the Wolf Trap Opera Company with the National Symphony Orchestra will present a concert version of the work on the Wolf Trap stage in July. Next autumn, Candide will travel to the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia as well as the Lyric Opera of San Diego. We've got jet lag already!

A White House Cantata Receives New York Premiere

In 1976 Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein presented their eagerly anticipated first Broadway collaboration, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It proved to be their last; the show was a colossal failure, closing after only seven performances.

The show proposed to retell the history of the first hundred years of White House residents: the Presidents and their wives upstairs, and successive generations of a family of servants (at first slaves) downstairs. In its bicentennial year, America was not in the mood to examine its seismic flaws of racial injustice. In any event, the collaborators were so dejected by the show's failure that they withdrew the work entirely. There was not even a cast recording – a fact that has chagrined several generations of Bernstein fans.

Bernstein was a resourceful recycler, and some of the 1600 material showed up in later works such as Songfest and A Quiet Place. But the greater part of the score languished in obscurity. In 1997, there was at last a breakthrough of sorts. The Lerner and Bernstein Estates agreed to fashion some of the numbers into a concert work for orchestra, soloists and choir; the new work was called A White House Cantata. The first performance in 1997 in London resulted in a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano conducting. However, it was not until this year that the Cantata was heard in New York. On March 31, Robert Bass conducted the Collegiate Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke's in a spirited performance of A White House Cantata. Dwayne Croft and Emily Pulley portrayed the various American presidents and their first ladies.

On, Steven Suskin wrote: "1600 features some the finest music Bernstein ever wrote. Working in an impressive variety of styles, the composer outdid himself, creating an assortment far too good to be left on the shelf."

Peter G. Davis for wrote: "We now have a viable way of hearing some long inaccessible but vintage Bernstein theatre music. Now that Bernstein's hometown has finally heard A White House Cantata, we should not have to wait for another election year to encounter this lively score again."

New West Side Story Publications

The Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company, Inc; Boosey & Hawkes and Hal Leonard are pleased to announce three new West Side Story publications: Suite from West Side Story for violin and piano arranged by Raimundo Penaforte; Selections from West Side Story for piano duet, and a new edition of vocal selections. The edition of vocal selections features photos, facsimiles of some of the original manuscripts, excerpts from Bernstein's log and other special features.

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