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Fri, Oct. 18

Phoenix Symphony plans tribute to Leonard Bernstein

The Phoenix Symphony will be performing music from one of America’s most beloved composers, Leonard Bernstein, on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.

The orchestra conducted by Tito Munoz will perform four of the composer’s most popular pieces – “Divertimento for Orchestra,” “Three Meditations from Mass,” “Chichester Psalms,” and the “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” according to an event release from the Yavapai Symphony Association.

Bernstein’s music resonates across his career, which spanned the early 1940s till his death in 1990. He wrote music that worked for small ensembles, symphony orchestras, Broadway, film and opera, his genius suggesting simple messages through both “complex and simple styles of music,” the release said.

The well-known theatrical Broadway musical inspired by the Shakespearean tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet,” and the later movie that featured the late actress Natalie Wood in the lead role of Maria, is one of Bernstein’s masterpieces, with nine of the familiar tunes tied together in the medley the orchestra will perform, although not in their original sequence.

The “Symphonic Dances” includes the epic confrontation between the Jets and the Sharks, the Latin dance scene called “Dance at the Gym,” and the soul-stirring song of these mismatched lovers’ longing, titled “Somewhere.”

“Divertimento for Orchestra” is Bernstein’s centennial tribute to the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1980. Bernstein studied at the symphony’s summer institute in Tanglewood and was a conducting assistant. His work is an “expression of his fondness for the city of his youth and its symphony,” the release said.

“Three Meditations from Mass” will feature cello soloist Melita Hunsinger; Bernstein’s inspiration for this composition was an invitation from the late First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to write a piece for the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The “Chichester Psalms” was a request of Bernstein for the Cathedral of Chichester in Sussex, England’s 1965 music festival.

“Leonard Bernstein was one of America’s most acclaimed and prolific composers,” said Yavapai Symphony Association President David Dunn in the release. An hour before the 3 p.m. concert there will be a pre-concert lecture related to Bernstein’s compositions. “We are thrilled to present this tribute to him, and believe this will be one of our most popular concerts of the season.”

Tickets are priced $28 to $39 – $10 for full-time college students – and can be bought through the Yavapai Symphony Association office at 228 N. Alarcon St, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and the Friday before each Sunday concert. They can also be purchased by calling 928-776-4255 for pickup at the performing arts center beginning at 1:30 p.m. on the day of the concert.

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