College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Music Department Honors Composer Leonard Bernstein

Alexander Bernstein will arrive on campus this week as the University of Mississippi music department celebrates the life and works of his father, Leonard Bernstein.

The department will focus on and showcase the works of the famous composer.

The entire week has been devoted to Bernstein, even going so far as to discuss his life outside the music. Bernstein is known for writing musicals, including “On the Town,” “Wonderful Town,” and “West Side Story,”
Donald Trott, director of choral activities, is responsible for the event and will direct some of the pieces performed at the final concert.

Trott, who had the opportunity to study under the direction of Bernstein himself in 1978 as a student at Westminster Choir College, is giving a two-part lecture on “The Life and Music of Leonard Bernstein,” which started Monday and will continue Wednesday in Nutt Auditorium.

Trott has done two other events featuring Bernstein at two different schools and almost annually features a new composer at UM.

The idea of a week of Bernstein stems from Trott’s desire to expose a new generation to his works.


“There’s a wealth of other repertoire that needs to be exposed,” Trott said. “He has a statement that says, ‘A classic piece of music is one that speaks to the emotions of the person no matter the generation,’ and I think his music does that.”

Trott’s program will involve all of the ensembles in the music department performing pieces from the most popular works of Bernstein to some of the biggest flops of his career.

The final concert will feature the wind ensemble, orchestra, opera department and choral ensembles. The concert, which will be presented in the Ford Center at 8 p.m. Friday evening, will begin with “Missa Brevis,” performed by the UM Concert Singers. It will also include scenes from “West Side Story,” and end with a mass choir performing pieces from “Candide.”

“Bernstein’s vocal music is exciting and challenging when it comes to performing,” said Tiffany Gammell, a second year vocal master’s student.

Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to not only perform difficult music, but will also get the opportunity to hear Alexander Bernstein speak on the life and works of his father.

Alexander Bernstein will speak at 1 p.m. on Friday in Nutt Auditorium and will present a rare insight into the life of his father.

“As a student, I feel a great honor to perform numbers of West Side Story for Alexander Bernstein,” Gammell said. “It’s amazing that we will be able to get advice and guidance from someone with a direct line to what the composer would have wanted.”

from DM by Micah Winter