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Nazareth College celebrates Leonard Bernstein Centennial on November 10

Published October 30, 2018

Nazareth College will join others around the world in celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of American composer Leonard Bernstein with a series of lectures and an evening performance on Saturday, November 10. The Nazareth College's Music Department's large ensembles will perform some of the composer's most iconic works at Bernstein at 100: A Celebration at 7:30 p.m. in Beston Hall in the new Glazer Music Performance Center. The concert is free and open to the public, and will be preceded by a series of scholarly lectures on the legacy of Bernstein (pre-registration and fee required for the lecture series, visit Nazareth College is located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a man of many talents: he was a composer, educator, conductor, humanitarian, and musician, among many other things. Some of his best-known works include composing American musicals West Side Story, On the Town, and Peter Pan, though he is noted as a classical composer as well. He also visited Rochester on more than one occasion to lead the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in concert. According to event co-organizer, Nazareth College professor of music Marjorie Roth, Bernstein's most important talent was, "His ability to reach people through his music, which embodies everything he does. He had an unusual ability to talk about classical music, art, and other kinds of music, in a way that reached huge audiences."

Bernstein at 100: A Celebration, will include the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra performing "Symphonic Dances" from West Side Story; the Nazareth College Chamber Singers performing Chichester Psalms in its original Hebrew; and the Nazareth College Wind Symphony and the Theatre and Dance Department collaborating in a performance of "Symphonic Suite" from On The Waterfront.

"The Wind Symphony's performance of the "Symphonic Suite" from the 1954 film On the Waterfront will be very special," said Jared Chase, associate professor of music and director of the wind symphony. "Although it is titled a suite, the work is really more of a tone poem which develops themes from the opening horn solo. The performance will also feature a unique collaboration with the Theatre and Dance Department with choreography by assistant professor Hettie Barnhill. Audiences will enjoy a new kind of performance art that combines live symphonic music, dance, drama, and choreography that tells the story of the movie and engages the audience from all areas of Beston Hall."

Prior to the evening performance, a series of academic lectures presented by Bernstein scholars will take place in Room A14 (Peace Theater) located in the Nazareth College Arts Center. Elizabeth A. Wells, professor of music and Pickard-Bell Chair in Music at Mt. Allison University joins Nazareth professor Marjorie Roth in organizing this event. The lectures are open to the public and require pre-registration (additional fees apply). Visit for more details.

"People listened to Bernstein when he spoke," said Roth. "He showed people why music must be cherished as an important part of our culture and why we need to continue to cultivate it in our young people for generations to come."

The keynote address, "A Hint of West Side Story: The Genesis and Conception of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms" will be delivered by Paul Laird, director of musicology at the University of Kansas at 12:30 p.m. Other noted speakers include Nazareth faculty member Kristen Shiner McGuire, professor in professional music and percussion coordinator, who will present "Bernstein's West Side Story: An Inside Look from a Percussionist's Perspective" at 3:30 p.m.

"When I conduct the music of Leonard Bernstein, I can't help but feel his humanity in his music, vibrancy in his harmonies, and beauty in his melodies," said Nancy Strelau, associate chair of the music department and director of the symphony orchestra. "He taught us to be better people in his global outreach and his selfless teaching and sharing of ideas. He is a spirit and intellect that we sorely need in today's world."

FULL SCHEDULE (events subject to change)
9:45 a.m.
Why Celebrate? Leonard Bernstein's Legacy
Elizabeth Wells, Mount Allison University

10 a.m.
Oldest Words, Youngest Music: Canonical Texts Shaping Leonard Bernstein's and Steve Reich's Hebrew Psalm Settings
Martha Sullivan, Rutgers University

Hashkiveinu, Chichester Psalms, and Solomon Braslavsky
Ann Glazer Niren, Indiana Southwest University

There's No Jewish Cantata: Bernstein's Early Jewish Choral Works
Georgia Luikens, Brandeis University

12:30 p.m.
Keynote Presentation: A Hint of West Side Story: The Genesis and Conception of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.
Paul Laird, University of Kansas

1:45 p.m.
Three Windows into Chichester Psalms
Michael Slon, University of Virginia

American Dream to American Icon: The Bernstein Family and the Immigrant Experience
Dorothy Glick, University of Kansas

Leonard Bernstein and Spirituality
Katherine Baber, Redlands University

3:30 p.m.
Bernstein's West Side Story: An Inside Look from a Percussionist's Perspective
Kristen Shiner McGuire, Nazareth College

Leonard Bernstein and the White House
Alicia Kopfstein-Penk, American University, Washington

The evening performance is free to attend, no advance reservations required. For more details, visit the event page. For more information on the lecture series, including registration and additional fees, visit


For More Information

Michelle Shippers, 585-389-2093,

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Nazareth College’s academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y., challenges and supports 2,300 undergrads and 700 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.