Bernstein's MASS

Yannick Nézet-Séguin - Conductor

Kevin Vortmann - Tenor

Kevin Newbury - Stage Director


Bernstein - MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers

Friday, May 1, 2015

8:00 pm Verizon Hall

Please note there will be no late seating and no intermission. We encourage you to arrive early as the performance will be performed with no breaks.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin calls it “the pinnacle” of the Orchestra’s requiem series. Having stirred audiences with the requiems of Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, and Fauré, the Orchestra presents Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, sure to be the theatrical highlight of our season and featuring collaborations with community performers. The legendary composer and conductor conceived this sacred work as a Mass for John F. Kennedy, in conjunction with the dedication of the Kennedy Center in 1971. While he employed many of the elements of a traditional Mass, Bernstein also drew upon his Broadway experience, as well as other religious and popular genres. He deployed a battalion of musical forces to realize his vision, including two orchestras, a rock band, a marching band, a cast of Broadway vocalists, and multiple choirs. Yannick says this presentation builds on the Orchestra’s experience with the St. Matthew Passion, adding theatrical elements to help bring Bernstein’s vision alive, and fill Verizon Hall with a spiritual, ecumenical experience.
The underlying themes of Mass may be even more relevant today than at the premiere: religious community vs. individual identity; challenging authority vs. conforming to communal beliefs; war vs. coming together. What better way to spread that message than with performances by singers and instrumentalists from throughout our own community. The spiritual center of MASS is the Celebrant, who, disillusioned by the doubts of his community, goes through a crisis of faith en route to eventual reconciliation and peace. A Catholic Mass seen through the eyes of a Jewish composer, Bernstein’s MASS offers an opportunity for multi-denominational dialogue. Rarely performed due to the large forces required, this is truly a destination concert for audiences and participants alike.

View the full cast list here.

Group Tickets

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program notes

Presented in collaboration with the Dialogue Institute at Temple University. Join us for a special interfaith panel discussion inspired by the exploratory nature of Leonard Bernstein's MASS and the questions it raises about religion, faith, and peace.

Pre-Concert Conversations

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director

Post-Concert Conversations
The Bernstein MASS performances are made possible in part by the generous support of the William Penn Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Presser Foundation.