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The Boston Symphony Orchestra, with whom Bernstein cultivated a close relationship for five decades, celebrates the composer's centennial with a star-studded gala at Tanglewood Music Festival on August 25.

This past year, several thousands of Leonard Bernstein centennial tributes across the world have been leading up to August 25, the date of the composer’s 100th birthday. On this day, Tanglewood Music Festival—the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—hosts an extravagant gala to celebrate Bernstein’s legacy as a composer, conductor, and presence as a driving musical force at Tanglewood, from 1940 to 1990.

"The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood" brings together musicians from organizations significant to Bernstein’s career: The Boston Symphony Orchestra is joined by members of the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

Leading the orchestra in a program of Bernstein's original and championed works, five conductors share the podium: Andris Nelsons, BSO Music Director; Keith Lockhart, Boston Pops Conductor; John Williams, Boston Pops Conductor Laureate; Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony Music Director; and Christoph Eschenbach, National Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate, who won the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Pacific Music Festival.

The gala features many brilliant music luminaries of the field. Host and eminent soprano Audra McDonald is joined onstage by concert singers Nadine Sierra, Susan Graham, Isabel Leonard, Thomas Hampson; Broadway stars Jessica Vosk and Tony Yazbeck; and renowned instrumental soloists Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kian Soltani, recent winner of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival's Leonard Bernstein Award.

The first half of the program is dedicated to selections from Candide, West Side Story, MASS, and Serenade. The second half features orchestral music by composers that Bernstein championed as a conductor, including selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and music by Copland. Video montages about Bernstein’s life and messages from people inspired by his great legacy enrich and round out the performance.

"The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood" will be recorded live for broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances series, December 28 at 9 PM (ET).

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt

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