The Brevard Music Center’s (BMC’s) third Festival Within a Festival, celebrating the iconic American composer Leonard Bernstein, draws to a close with a series of performances beginning Thursday, August 2, and ending with Bernstein’s Mass on Sunday, August 5. Mass, which takes place at 3 p.m. at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, is a multi-faceted dramatic pageant, featuring the Brevard Music Center Orchestra with tenor John McVeigh conducted by BMC artistic director Keith Lockhart.
“I enjoy conducting this piece because it is more than just a work one can hear at a concert; it is an experience that people who love the arts and humanities shouldn’t miss,” says Lockhart. “Bernstein’s Mass has rarely been performed in NC, and it’s an extraordinary challenge for us, not only musically but technically.”
The piece was written in 1971 for the opening of the Kennedy Center and originally dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though Bernstein set out to write a liturgically correct Roman Catholic Mass, the work evolved into a musical theatre parable about mankind’s loss of faith and the difficulty of maintaining belief in something better.
“It’s a huge production, and I think people will leave changed by it in some way,” says Lockhart. “Bernstein is searching his own soul through this piece and that creates soul-searching in the audience.”
Bernstein’s Mass is preceded by three days of diverse performances. Sondheim on Sondheim, an intimate portrait of the songwriter in his own words and music, takes place Thursday, August 2. The Planets, a popular orchestral suite accompanied by multi-media visuals provided by Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, is held on Friday, August 3, followed by Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on Saturday, August 4. All three concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
A post-season performance by Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp is held Saturday, August 18, at 7:30 p.m. Considered by many to be the world’s premier banjo player, the 15-time Grammy Award-winner marks the culmination of his inaugural Blue Ridge Banjo Camp at BMC with this special finale concert.
“This is a first for Béla Fleck,” says producer John Felty, of Mountain Song Productions. “He has never done a banjo camp serving as the backdrop for a concert. It is still evolving, with some special guests and first-time collaborations that will make for a very rewarding experience.” All concerts take place at BMC’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, with the exception of Sondheim on Sondheim, which is held at Brevard College’s Porter Center.
Brevard Music Center is located at 349 Andante Lane, Brevard. Concert tickets may be purchased online at brevardmusic.org, by calling 828.862.2105, or at the BMC box office, also at 349 Andante Lane.