Arts and Entertainment

School of Music celebrates 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein with gala concert

Credit: Russell Bloom / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's School of Music ensembles will join with students and faculty from the School of Theatre in a gala concert celebrating the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein on Monday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Eisenhower Auditorium. A composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist, Bernstein was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."

Tickets are $12 for general admission and $4 for students. Buy tickets in advance for School of Music concerts in Eisenhower Auditorium and save 40 percent. There is no limit on the number. Purchases made the the day of the concert are not eligible. Tickets are available at any Arts Ticket Center location, by phone at 814-863-0255 or 1-800-ARTS-TIX, or online at Penn State Arts Ticket Center.

This concert is available on livestream at Penn State School of Music.

The concert includes Bernstein's first symphony ("Jeremiah"), written in 1942. Performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerardo Edelstein with Penn State professor Jennifer Trost as mezzo-soprano soloist, the symphony follows the story of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah with texts (in Hebrew) taken from the Book of Lamentations. The symphony won the New York Music Critics' Circle Award for the best American work of 1944. 

Under the direction of Dennis Glocke, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform "Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story.'" Perhaps Bernstein's best-known work, the musical "West Side Story" (1957) is a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary New York City. The "Symphonic Dances," in this arrangement for winds by Paul Lavender, bring together some of the musical's most famous songs ("Somewhere," "Maria"), dances ("Mambo," "Cha-cha," "Rumba") and instrumental interludes ("Meeting Scene"). The composition was debuted by the New York Philharmonic at a Bernstein gala concert in 1961.

Also participating in the Bernstein birthday celebration are students from the musical theatre major, led by music director of the School of Theatre Dan Riddle, who will perform selections from Bernstein's 1944 musical "On the Town." Based on the Jerome Robbin's ballet "Fancy Free," "On the Town" recounts the adventures of three sailors on shore leave in New York City and the female companionship they find along the way. Premiering in 1944 and made into a movie in 1949 starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin, "On the Town" has enjoyed successful Broadway revivals in 1971, 1998 and 2014.


Symphony #1 ("Jeremiah") - Philharmonic Orchestra, Gerardo Edelstein, conductor; with Jennifer Trost, mezzo soprano




Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story," arranged for winds by Paul Lavender - Symphonic Wind Ensemble; Dennis Glocke, conductor

Selections from "On the Town" - Dan Riddle, music director; with musical theatre students

Last Updated April 16, 2018