Leonard Bernstein at 100 at Ole Miss

Around the country this year, hundreds of shows are being held in remembrance of the brilliant composing of Leonard Bernstein who would have turned 100 years old this year.

This Tuesday, Ole Miss is hosting their celebration of the American composer who has inspired millions through his musical soundtracks, music education videos, and overall charisma and passion for music.

Selections from Chichester Psalms, Candide, and the recently unearthed Peter Pan will be performed by Dennis Shrock, Emannuel Tsao, Bradley Robinson, Stefanie Moore, the University of Mississippi Chorus with Don Trott, and the Bernstein Festival Orchestra.  

“When he died in 1990, they started to archive everything pretty quickly,” Trott said. “Lot’s of scores written and apparently Karen Bernstein, who is Alexander’s Cousin, became active as the archivist and then they quickly made a connection with the Library of Congress that this is where they should be housed.”

Ole Miss Choral Director Don Trott said that the discovery of the Peter Pan sheet music would be comparable to finding original letters written by Abraham Lincoln.

“Apparently he was asked to just write some incidental music and he got kind of carried away with it at the time so he just got into a mood and wrote several pieces and created basically this whole musical,” Trott said.

Once the play was discovered by an old protege, it was turned into a concertized version so that audiences could enjoy “new” music posthumously from Bernstein. The new concertized version will be the one that will be performed at the Ford Center.

Trott studied under Bernstein himself at Westminster Choir College, and published an article in Choral Journal based on interviews with Alexander Bernstein, Leonard’s son. Alexander Bernstein will be making an appearance at the concert this Tuesday at the Ford Center.

Dr. Selim Giray, Director of Orchestral Activities, shares the enthusiasm of the Peter Pan discovery with Trott.

“This is something for music historian’s, concert-goers, and performers,” said Dr. Giray.

The sheer volume of Bernstein’s catalogue of compositions is something to marvel at, and will presumably stand the test of time, as it already has for more than half a century.