Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sergio Mims: Wayne Marshall to Conduct Bernstein's "A White House Cantata"

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Conductor Wayne Marshall announced on his Facebook page that he will be conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein's A White House Cantata next summer at Ravinia Music Festival outside Chicago on Thursday, July 30.

The work was adapted from music and songs from the 1976 Broadway musical 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with music Bernstein wrote with lyrics from Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady, Camelot). The play only lasted 7 performances and both Bernstein and Lerner disappointed by the failure of the play they stated at the time that there would be no cast recording of the work.

However according to the New York Times,  A White House Cantata retains 90 minutes of the two hours of music from “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” and was shaped by Charlie Harmon, the former music editor of the Bernstein estate, and Sid Ramin, an original orchestrator of the show. Their purpose was to rescue Bernstein’s music and Lerner’s lyrics from a clunky book overburdened with sermonizing about race relations".

"The score is Bernstein at his most exuberant and all-embracing. Identifiable in it are anthems, ballads, blues, calypso, drinking songs, Dixieland, torch songs, waltzes, jazz, hymns, spirituals, marches and a cappella barbershop harmonies".

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