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Skidmore College

Leonard Bernstein's son to visit campus

November 1, 2018
by Lisa Haney

Alexander Bernstein, second child of classical music icon Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), will make a special visit to Skidmore College, as part of a two-year global celebration of the late composer’s 100th birthday.

Alexander Bernstein, photo by Steve Sherman
Alexander Bernstein, photo by Steve Sherman

He'll attend the “Leonard Bernstein at 100 – The Educator and Intellectual” concert, which will reboot one of Bernstein’s popular “Young People's Concerts” originally performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 1962.

The concert will feature two musicians from the original 1962 performance — Skidmore faculty member Paul Green on clarinet and legendary bassist Gary Karr — performing Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals.” 

Alexander Bernstein will join them for a panel discussion during an intermission. “I want young people to know more about my father's wonderful music-making and his life as an educator and social activist,” Bernstein said.

Karr and Green are looking forward to reconnecting with Alexander Bernstein and revisiting the music from the “Young People’s Concert,” which helped launch their careers.

Paul Green
Paul Green, 13, plays in the "Young People's Concert" in 1962.

“It’s an emotional return to one of the most important events in my life,” said Skidmore lecturer Green, who was 13 when he played clarinet in the “Young People’s Concert” in 1962. “It was so exciting to be part of this thing. We did the concert live at Carnegie Hall, and it was broadcast on national television a week later. So I could see myself on television from my house.”

Karr was 20 when he performed a solo on the double bass in the 1962 concert. “Having had very little experience appearing as a soloist in front of an orchestra I felt as though I were diving blindly into a freezing cold pool,” said Karr. “It was a shocking reality that I wasn’t dreaming and that I was actually performing as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic while being guided by the man whom I considered the most inspiring and greatest musician in the world.”

Gary Karr, 20, performs a solo on double bass during the “Young People’s Concert” in 1962.

“At my audition in Carnegie Hall for the ‘Young People’s Concert,’ the only people listening to me were Leonard Bernstein with his very young son, Alexander, in his lap!” Karr said. “It was, to say the least, a daunting experience.”

The “Leonard Bernstein at 100 — The Educator and Intellectual” concert will be held at the Arthur Zankel Music Center Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. and is part of “Dream with Me: Leonard Bernstein at 100,” a series of performances and events celebrating the life and work of Leonard Bernstein being held at Skidmore College this fall. Limited tickets are available ($8 adults, $5 seniors and Skidmore community, free for students and children).

“This series is an ambitious collaboration among faculty and students in the music department, colleagues across campus and a host of illustrious guests,” said Jeremy Day-O'Connell, chair and associate professor of music. “Through a unique offering of concerts, lectures, and conversations, we honor and explore Bernstein in his varied personas—composer and conductor, educator and public intellectual, humanitarian and social critic.”

The Skidmore events are part of the larger “Leonard Bernstein at 100” two-year worldwide celebration of the 100th birthday of the legendary conductor and composer of “West Side Story.” The series of celebratory performances kicked off at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in September 2017 and will include more than 2,500 events on six continents. The anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday was Aug. 25.

“This centenary makes me think how happy my father would be to know that his music is being celebrated all over the world in such an extraordinary way,” said Alexander Bernstein, founding chairman of The Leonard Bernstein Center for Learning. “The Bernstein at 100 events are making people everywhere, of all ages and cultures, aware of his ground-breaking life as a composer, conductor, educator and humanitarian.”



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