Three Reasons to Come Hang Out With Lenny


Tonight Verdigris officially begins its second year as our singers gather for the first rehearsal of the 2018-2019 season. We will be taking a deep dive into the music of Leonard Bernstein for our first concert, “Lenny, Lenny, Lenny!” The program is built around significant letters from the life of Bernstein with the music in the concert reflecting on quotes from his personal correspondence.

Bernstein is a cultural icon. He towers above many other classical musicians of the twentieth century as an American composer and conductor that shaped the way people engaged with classical music during his lifetime. A few years ago, a nearly comprehensive collection of his personal correspondence was published. This thick book (I mean, this thing is a tome) of letters written and received by Bernstein shows us the human behind the icon.

Here are three ways we will connect our listeners with Bernstein the man:

1. Programming music both well-loved and lesser known.

The program will be a thoughtfully constructed kaleidoscope of music from across Bernstein’s career. Seasoned concertgoers will recognize the concert’s centerpiece as Verdigris joins with collaborating choirs to bring Chichester Psalms to life. Selections from West Side Story are sprinkled throughout. There will be selections from MASS, a piece known to some, but (outside of Bernstein’s centenary year, where it had several significant performances) its demanding roster of orchestra, band, children’s choir, chamber choir, large mixed choir, and soloists make it difficult and expensive to perform. My favorite discovery in this programming process has been The Lark, a lesser-known set of hauntingly beautiful pieces composed as incidental music for a play about Joan of Arc.

2. Creating a program centered on his personal correspondence.

Audience members will receive a program that invites them into Bernstein’s confidence. At points throughout the concert, audience members will read portions of his letters that illuminate significant moments in his personal life. The music heard in the concert reflects on the emotions and experiences conveyed in the letters.

3. Bringing the music to life with staging.

Verdigris believes firmly in breaking down the formality we’ve come to expect from a choir concert - the “you sit there, I’ll stand here and sing” model. As we move through the concert, we will use the stage as our playing space. Soloists, Verdigris, and our collaborating choirs will move together to bring the music to life. The concert is meant to draw out the human elements of Bernstein’s life and work, and we will move as humans together to invite you into his story.

You really don’t want to miss this concert. Whether you heard Bernstein’s name once in some general music class twenty years ago or you are an avid fan of his music, you will leave this concert with a better understanding and appreciation for the man and his music.

I have a special offer for my faithful blog readers. When you purchase your ticket for the “Lenny, Lenny, Lenny!” concert, enter the discount code BLOGFAN and get $5 off your ticket price. See you there!

Erinn Sensenig