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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Leonard Bernstein Mass

Paulo Szot and cast members of “Leonard Bernstein Mass.”
Courtesy of Patrick Gipson/Ravinia Festival
Paulo Szot and cast members of “Leonard Bernstein Mass.”

Stream now or tune in Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 at 2 p.m. on KPBS 2

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GREAT PERFORMANCES presents "Leonard Bernstein Mass."

Featuring 200 artists, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia Festival’s 2019 production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” embraces elements of musical theater, folk and rock music with Latin text from the liturgy, as well as music and lyrics by Bernstein and additional text by “Wicked” composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.

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Tony Award-winning baritone Paulo Szot (“South Pacific”) stars as the Celebrant, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director and Bernstein protégé Marin Alsop conducts.

The choral ensemble Vocality, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Highland Park High School Marching Band also perform.

Paulo Szot and members of Chicago Children’s Choir.
Courtesy of Patrick Gipson/Ravinia Festival
Paulo Szot and members of Chicago Children’s Choir.
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Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich called the production “simply quintessential, stylistically unbound, anything-goes Bernstein, presented on the grandest scale possible.”

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Leonard Bernstein Mass” begins with a brief overview of the work’s history as a commission by Jacqueline Onassis to open the Kennedy Center in 1971 and features comments from the director, conductor, Bernstein family members and more.

As the performance begins, the Celebrant declares his faith but faces resistance from the Street Chorus who questions him and sends him on a journey of discovery.

With metaphorical themes and letters written by cast members addressing social issues such as oppression, immigration and bullying, the musical is as relevant today as when it premiered in 1971.

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Credits:

Directed for television by Michael Beyer and produced by Bernhard Fleischer. A production of Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images; Welz Kauffman and Samuel J. Paul are executive producers. Directed for the stage by Kevin Newbury, Marin Alsop conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Music and text by Leonard Bernstein with additional text and lyrics bv Stephen Schwartz. GREAT PERFORMANCES is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.