The Bernstein in Chichester festival is approaching its concluding weekend. A Chichester Psalms Gala Evening on Friday 23 November will be followed by a special performance of Leonard Bernstein’s choral masterpiece on Saturday 24 November in a concert programme with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop and with the choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals.
“I am thrilled to reunite with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for this historical project celebrating my teacher and mentor, Leonard Bernstein. Performing Chichester Psalms in Chichester Cathedral is the perfect tribute to Bernstein. This brilliant and very personal piece embodies his faith in humanity, innocence and youth,” said Marin Alsop.
The Gala Evening will open with the acclaimed one-man play Walter & Lenny devised and performed by Peter McEnery, based on The Leonard Bernstein Letters. It traces the friendship of Dean Walter Hussey and Leonard Bernstein, the fruit of which was one of Bernstein’s most frequently performed and popular works.
Then author and music critic Nigel Simeone will welcome Alexander Bernstein on stage. Alexander last visited Chichester in July 1965 with his father, mother and sister Jamie, to attend the first performance in the Cathedral of Chichester Psalms.
“We are delighted and honoured that he is flying in from New York to discuss his father’s legacy and to share memories of that first visit,” said festival co-organiser Emma-Jane Wyatt. Alexander and Nigel will be joined by former choristers who sang in that 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival performance.
“Since we launched Bernstein in Chichester in March, attendance across all the events has been beyond our expectations,” said festival co-organiser Edward Milward-Oliver. “We are indebted to the enthusiasm and generosity of so many participants and supporters, and a community keen to honour Leonard Bernstein’s life and work.”
The eight-month programme has featured concerts, ballet, workshops, revues, jazz, talks, film shows, exhibitions and a reunion or two, that have united the city with centenary celebration across six continents. “The festival has provided all of us an opportunity to reaffirm the role of music in the life of Chichester,” said the organisers. “We hope it will lead to a continuing recognition of the close ties between the city and one of the greatest musical figures of the 20th century.”