The Bernstein Project launches on Sunday with Mass Rally, a day of workshops and activities providing a sampler of the season and culminating in Mass Gathering, a concert in the Royal Festival Hall featuring performances by Clive Rowe, Mattthew Barley and the Britten Sinfonia amongst others.
Further concerts will feature American conductor and Bernstein protegee Marin Alsop, who is the artistic director of the project, a fully staged performance of Bernstein's one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti (26 March 2010), and Bernstein on Broadway (7 April 2010), comprising excerpts from works including his 1957 musical West Side Story.
Thirty events are being held in total, each one “devoted to the incomparable inspiration of one of the 20th century's greatest icons”. A series of talks will feature George Steiner, Susie Orbach, Brian Greene, Marcus du Sautoy and Marin Alsop among others.
A season of films, curated by Bernstein biographer Humphrey Burton, will include screenings of Encounter at the Berlin Wall (30 November), featuring a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Berlin as the wall fell in 1989, and controversial film essay The Little Drummer Boy (9 May 2010).
The season concludes with two performances of Bernstein's monumental Mass, conducted by Marin Alsop, on 10 and 11 July 2010. Staged at the Royal Festival Hall, it will be feature cellist Matthew Barley and soprano Mary King, alongside a purpose built 'Mass Orchestra', recruited specially for the occasion.
Announcing the season, project artistic director Marin Alsop, who studied under the great composer, said: “Leonard Bernstein was a phenomenon … he was a thinker, teacher, author, television star, provocateur, humanitarian and he was my hero … He showed me – and the world – the enormous power of music and how important it is to share it with as much of humanity as possible.”
For further details of The Bernstein Project, see www.southbankcentre.co.uk.