Bernstein: new 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue suite(April 2003)
Bernstein: new 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue suite
A new suite of music from Leonard Bernstein's musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue receives its premiere on 25 April at Carnegie Hall, performed by the New York Pops Orchestra conducted by Charles Prince.
Sid Ramin and Charlie Harmon have assembled a sixteen-minute suite for orchestra (without voices). One of Ramin's many credits is the orchestration (with Hershy Kay) for the original 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1976. Charlie Harmon was music editor for the Bernstein Estate between 1989 and 1999.
The new suite includes four of the most familiar numbers from the musical: The President Jefferson March, Take Care of This House, Lud's Wedding (I Love My Wife), and To Make Us Proud. The orchestration has been expanded from the original pit band. Wind instruments are in pairs, there is more percussion, and of course the string sections are substantially larger in a symphony orchestra. The music in the suite is played without pause, though the first two sections could easily be excerpted and played as independent encores.
The music that Leonard Bernstein wrote for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ranges dazzlingly across its American sources. There are hymn-like chorales, a catchy calypso, jaunty minstrel show music, a series of nineteenth-century ballroom dances... and much more. The anthem To Make Us Proud brings this suite to an inspirational close, perhaps reflecting Bernstein's own hopeful optimism in the workings of American democracy.
Also visit the official Bernstein website at www.leonardbernstein.com
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Photo © Susech Batah, Berlin (DG)