Tuesday 23 January 2018

Serenade, Songfest and more - Total Immersion in Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein
The Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman is making a welcome appearance in London on Saturday 27 January 2018 when he is the soloist in Leonard Bernstein's Serenade with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conductor David Charles Abell, as part of an all-Bernstein programme which includes the overture to Candide and Songfest.

Serenade, a violin concerto in all but name, is Bernstein's musical philosophical reflection on Plato, in complete contrast to the vibrancy of the Candide overture which reflects the very different work of Voltaire. Rounding off the evening is Songfest, an orchestral song-cycle which uses and extravagant five soloists ( Sophia Burgos soprano, J’Nai Bridges mezzo-soprano, Fleur Barron mezzo-soprano, Nicky Spence tenor, Nmon Ford baritone) and sets poems ranging from Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe to Gertrude Stein and EE Cummings. A highly eclectic work, Songfest was commissioned for the American bicentennial, Bernstein tried to encapsulate 300 years of American history in one work.

Violinist Vadim Guzman has been playing the Serenade for over 20 years (he debuted the piece playing for Hamburg Ballet)  and thinks of it as one of the greatest works of the 20th century. It is based on Plato's Symposium and in each of the movements one of the philosophers (Phaedrus, Aristophanes, Eryximachus, Agathon and Socrates) speaks on love. It is an approachable work, written for soloists, strings, harp and percussion, yet tricky too, Guzman calls the third movement one of the most demanding things he has ever played. (There is an interesting interview with Guzman talking about the Serenade on The Strad website)

The event is part of the BBC's Total Immersion Day on Bernstein, and during the day you can catch the BBC Singers in the Missa Brevis and Chichester Psalms, and musicians from the Guildhall School of Music in smaller scale pieces

Full details from the Barbican website.

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