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GREAT PERFORMANCES: Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration At Tanglewood

Yo-Yo Ma, Jessica Zhou, and John Williams bow following Williams's "Highwood's Ghost," Aug. 25, 2018. Tanglewood, Mass.
Courtesy of Chris Lee
Yo-Yo Ma, Jessica Zhou, and John Williams bow following Williams's "Highwood's Ghost," Aug. 25, 2018. Tanglewood, Mass.

Airs Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS 2

Celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday with this tribute concert hosted by Audra McDonald

In honor of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, Tanglewood — the famed summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra — dedicated its entire 2018 season to the iconic composer, conductor, performer, educator and humanitarian.

The festivities culminated on Bernstein’s centennial birthday on Aug. 25, 2018, in a special celebrity-studded gala concert, with every memorable moment captured for a worldwide audience by THIRTEEN’s GREAT PERFORMANCES series.


“The Bernstein Centennial Celebration At Tanglewood” features some of the world’s leading performers and musicians from the classical stage, opera and musical theater in a tribute to the music legend.

Hosted by film, television and theater star Audra McDonald, the show features appearances by prominent conductors Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, John Williams and Michael Tilson Thomas leading an incredible orchestra made up of musicians from some of the organizations most important to Bernstein.

Joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) are performers from the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

World-renowned classical music artists Midori, Thomas Hampson, Isabel Leonard, Yo-Yo Ma, Kian Soltani, Nadine Sierra and Susan Graham perform during the centennial celebration, along with leading Broadway talent Jessica Vosk and Tony Yazbeck, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Directed for the stage by James Darrah, GREAT PERFORMANCES “The Bernstein Centennial Celebration At Tanglewood” illuminates the breadth of Bernstein’s incredible life and career, which inspired generations of music lovers around the globe – from his talent as a composer to his generosity in mentoring other composers and musicians, his inimitable role as a driving musical force at Tanglewood for over 50 years and more.


Song List:

  • Overture to “Candide,” Leonard Bernstein, Andris Nelsons conducting
  • First movement “Phaedrus; Pausanias (Lento–Allegro)” from “Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium),” Leonard Bernstein, Christoph Eschenbach conducting, Midori, violin
  • Meditation No. 3 from “Mass,” Leonard Bernstein, Christoph Eschenbach conducting, Kian Soltani, cello
  • “Kaddish 2” from Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish,” Leonard Bernstein, Keith Lockhart conducting, Nadine Sierra, soprano, Women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
  • Selections from “West Side Story”: “Prologue,” “Maria,” “A boy like that – I have a love,” “Tonight (Quintet),” Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting; Joshua Bergasse, choreographer, Performed by Isabel Leonard, Jessica Vosk, Tony Yazbeck and other Broadway artists
  • “Der Schildwache Nachtlied” from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” Gustav Mahler, Andris Nelsons conducting, Thomas Hampson, baritone
  • Finale of “Appalachian Spring,” Aaron Copland, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting
  • “Highwood’s Ghost,” An Encounter, John Williams, John Williams conducting, Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Jessica Zhou, harp
  • Finale from Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” Gustav Mahler, Andris Nelsons conducting, Nadine Sierra, soprano; Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
  • “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” (Grand Finale), Leonard Bernstein, Andris Nelsons conducting, performed by entire lineup of guest artists

In addition to The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood, music icon Leonard Bernstein and his works have been featured in numerous other GREAT PERFORMANCES specials over the years, including “Leonard Bernstein: The Gift of Music” (1993), “Leonard Bernstein’s Candide” (2005), “Carnegie Hall Opening Night 2008: A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein” (2008), a Boston Pops performance of “Times Square: 1944” in Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Celebration (2012) and many more.

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A production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc, C Major Entertainment, NHK and WDR. Directed for television by David Horn. For GREAT PERFORMANCES: John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.