Bernstein Today

Travel Dispatch: Where in the World is “Famous Father Girl”? (Part 1)

Well, my lovely plan was to write a little report after each Bernstein at 100-related event… and then the great centennial condor picked me up in its talons and whizzed me around so fast — that there’s barely been time to wash my socks, let alone write details. 

So, here’s the new plan: a whirlwind, Reader’s Digest view of everything that’s been going on for the past two months. Seat-belt fastened? 

March 22 – fly to Burlington for another “Late Night with LB” concert at the University there. Still some snow on the ground. John and Amy brought their doggie. The countrified inn/spa was heaven. The concert went beautifully. We’re getting good at this show (#LateNightwithLB). 

April 6 – Fly to Toronto; quite a blizzard we landed in. A piano recital of all LB’s “Anniversaries,” with me supplying narration and slide show. Pianist Sebastian Knauer rocked the house. And what a house: the Royal Conservatory’s new auditorium is a wood-festooned gem. 

April 12 – Fly to Norfolk, VA, to narrate the Virginia Arts Festival’s mighty LB tribute. Conductor JoAnn Falletta pushed everyone to their maximum, and the results were smashing: Candide Overture, Serenade, Prelude, Fugue & Riffs, and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story – all in one concert! And I made two new talented friends: clarinetist Jon Manasse and violinist Robert McDuffie 

April 18 – Quick train ride down to Philadelphia for the “Jamie Bernstein Museum Takeover” at the National Museum of American Jewish History – a fascinating institution in a cool, modern building, run by a bunch of visionary, progressive and very fun women who have put together a STELLAR exhibition about LB. The “takeover” consisted of many events – among them a screening of Elizabeth Kling’s and my film documentary, Crescendo: the Power of Music. Afterward, two of the kids we’d followed, violinist Raven and violist Zebadiah, now accomplished, poised teenagers, came up to the stage and each performed solo Bach. I was in tears of joy: Elizabeth and I were there filming them on the day they’d first touched their instruments! A few nights later, Musto, Burton, & Boriskin came down and we did another “Late Night.” This was an extra good one: sold out, and everyone making a big happy ruckus. 

April 24 – Off to Seville, Spain! Several days of rehearsals with a combination of two youth orchestras, conductor John Axelrod working them hard. Every day they got better. In the evenings, oh the food and the wine: Axelrod knew all the good places. Our concert was a rendition of the very first educational concert that I’d created years ago with Michael Barrett — “The Bernstein Beat” — except this time I narrated en español. The orchestra played like champs, and the audience participation stuff went over huge. During the bows, the whole crowd clapped a flamenco rhythm in unison – a thrilling experience. Olé!  

(via GIPHY)

The next week was a triple-play: 

May 2 – Kalamazoo – best “Late Night” ever at the Gilmore Festival. 

May 4 – Baltimore – a special concert with the Baltimore Symphony. Conductor Marin Alsop, NPR host Scott Simon, and I shared thoughts and memories about LB between the musical offerings. (Later it was made into a lovely segment on NPR’s  “Weekend Edition.”) It was tough to jam this one in, but I never say no to Marin – and the experience was deeply gratifying. 

May 6 – Another terrific “Late Night” at the Museum of Art in Cleveland.  And we all flew home. 

May 11 – Off to Houston, to narrate a concert with the Houston Chamber Choir, an ensemble of vocal virtuosi who are the choral equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters. Their renditions of Bernstein material were revelatory; their conductor, Bob Simpson, is a very tall, very talented drink of water. Bob’s wife, choral teacher Marianna, treated me to a little recital by her students at Parker Elementary School. Those KIDS!! They knocked me out.  

May 18 – Nothing more soothing and conducive to getting work done than the Acela to Washington; I wrote two articles on the way. That night I attended Michael Barrett’s ingeniously curated vocal concert of lesser-known Bernstein gems at the Library of Congress. And on Sunday, yet another glorious “Late Night” in yet another museum, the Phillips Collection. I dashed away the moment it was over to make some remarks at the Washington National Opera gala which featured, among other things, Patti LuPone singing “A Boy Like That” and “I Have a Love” – both parts, all by herself!

Then I ran across the vast Kennedy Center corridor to the concert hall to hear Wynton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra perform their unique, brilliant arrangements of Bernstein material. A sublime palate-cleanser to a busy, busy weekend. 

May 31: As of this writing in LA, I’m about to narrate a performance of LB’s Songfest with vocal students; flying home Saturday so as to fly to Vienna the following day for concerts and symposia; from there to Aldeburgh, England for Centennial events there; then back to NYC in the nick of time to celebrate the publication of my memoir, Famous Father Girl, on June 12th!!  

Exhausting, gratifying times. 

About the author
Jamie Bernstein (Credit: Steve J. Sherman)
Jamie Bernstein (Credit: Steve J. Sherman)

Jamie Bernstein is a writer, narrator, and film maker. Beginning with “The Bernstein Beat,” a family concert about her father’s music modeled after his groundbreaking Young People’s Concerts, Jamie has continued to design, write and narrate concerts for worldwide audiences of all ages about the classical music repertoire. Jamie is the co-director of an award-winning film documentary, Crescendo: the Power of Music, which is available on Netflix. Jamie’s memoir, Famous Father Girl, will be published by HarperCollins June 12.

About this content

Jamie, Alexander, and Nina are taking you around the globe, celebrating their father’s legacy with you and adoring fans at thousands of Bernstein Centennial events. Read more travel blogging in Bernstein Today.

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