Leonard Bernstein, legendary composer and conductor, would have been 100 years old on August 25, 2018. The Virginia Arts Festival joins in the worldwide celebration of his life and music on Saturday, May 12 at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach when they present “Bernstein on Broadway”.
Leonard Bernstein was Music Director of the New York Philharmonic for 11 years and Laureate Conductor for 21 years. He conducted major symphonies around the world. He was a prolific composer and amassed a huge and diverse body of work. He wrote both orchestral and choral works, ballets, operettas, and some of the classic Broadway scores. Bernstein’s works for the Broadway stage include On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and West Side Story. Bernstein also amassed numerous awards, including eleven Emmy Awards, one Tony Ward, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors.
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Rob Fisher for “Bernstein on Broadway”. Fisher’s Broadway conducting includes Chicago, Anything Goes, Hair, An American in Paris and the 2003 revival of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. Fisher is a “key player” in the worldwide celebration of Bernstein’s music. He curated, arranged and conducted the celebration’s kick-off concert at Kennedy Center in the fall of 2017. Perhaps even more important than Rob Fisher’s illustrious Broadway career is the fact that he is a Norfolk native. This is a homecoming for the young man who grew up in the Bayview neighborhood and graduated from Norview High School.
The Virginia Symphony Chorus, with Robert Shoup, Chorusmaster will perform. There will be three guest soloists. Brooke Shields, model, actress, and Broadway star, made her film debut at age 12 in Pretty Baby. She has received rave reviews in recent years for her work in Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. She has also performed on Broadway in Grease, Cabaret and Chicago.
Ross Lekites is currently performing in Disney’s Frozen on Broadway. He toured the country as Tony in Bernstein’s West Side Story and has also starred as Charlie in the touring company of Kinky Boots.
The third soloist is Mikaela Bennett. Bennett is a recent graduate of Julliard and made her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic singing excerpts from West Side Story for their Young Peoples Concert Series. She was also a featured soloist in the Kennedy Center performance of “Bernstein on Broadway”.
If you love Broadway or Bernstein, go to vafest.org for more information and to purchase tickets to “Bernstein on Broadway”, a celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein.