Marin Alsop on Leonard Bernstein’s MASS

In 1971 the composer Leonard Bernstein was approached by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to produce a piece for the inauguration of Washington D.C.’s new Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The result was MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Composers.

Bridging the gap between classical and popular music, this eclectic, theatrical style piece captured the uncertain nature of America at the time, as the optimism of the 1960s gave way to increased conflict in the wake of the polarisation of the Vietnam War, and the rise of the civil rights movement.

Bernstein's MASS | A Conversation between with Marin Alsop and Jude Kelly CBE


In this short video the American conductor Marin Alsop, herself a protege of Bernstein’s, joins Jude Kelly CBE to discuss the composer and in particular his celebrated piece, MASS. The pair also look at Bernstein’s wish to bring people together through music, and how the themes of his work continue to have a strong relevance today.

Bernstein was a great conductor, a great composer, a great thinker, but he was also a man of the people, and his great desire was to unify people, bring people together
Marin Alsop on Leonard Bernstein

On 6 & 7 April, Marin Alsop conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Chineke! Junior Orchestra in a performance of Bernstein’s MASS in our Royal Festival Hall

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