On April 29, 2018, the LAJS performed Bernstein at 100/Israel at 70 to a SOLD OUT audience in the Gindi Auditorium of the American Jewish University. This concert celebrated Bernstein's centenary and Israel's 70th birthday, bridged by a world premiere of a newly commissioned work by composer Maria Newman. As part of our continuing partnership, the AJU Choir joined the Symphony during the first half of the program, was devoted to works by Bernstein.
Special Guests included:
21 Nov 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel --- The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra played for the first time in the Biblical town of Beersheba. It was attended by hundreds of soldiers and settlers from all over the Negev.
It was not unusual to experience nearby artillery fire mid-concert, and at one performance at Rehovoth, Bernstein was called offstage mid-Beethoven piano concerto and told of a possible air raid. According to the Palestine Post, "he returned to the piano as if nothing had happened." The outwardly unflappable Bernstein said: "I never played such an Adagio. I thought it was my swan song."
Below is a statement from our Maestra Green regarding Bernstein's connection to Israel and how the commissioned piece evolved:
"When I first decided to create a program celebrating Leonard Bernstein's centenary, I knew it had to include Israel's 70th birthday, as well. Bernstein's profound musical and humanitarian relationship with Israel began when the land was still called Palestine, and it remained a love affair throughout his life. Theprogram will include traditional music of Israel; sacred, stage and concert music of Bernstein; and three versions of Israeli composer Marc Lavry's Emek, which was chosen by Bernstein in 1950 as the representative Israeli composition for his first American tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. But I needed a new piece, a work that would tie all the connections together. The obvious answer was Maria Newman.
"Maria is a luminous light who creates joyous music from a deep, thoughtful perspective.
She and I have had many discussions about what it is to be connected to one's Judaism. Music, for me (and I believe for her), is a non-threatening means of connecting with one's Jewishness, which includes the relationship to Israel, at all levels. Maria Newman is an American composer who, as a youngster, grew up with the sounds of Leonard Bernstein, a yeshiva boy whose music is infused with his Jewish soul and deep connection to Israel. Additionally, Maria has been deeply inspired by the music of her father, the great American film composer Alfred Newman, whose Jewish background was important to, but not necessarilyapparent in the work he produced. With this combination of influences present in Maria's distinct musical language, I believe her to be the perfect combination of talent and sensitivity needed to compose a work bridging the soulful aesthetic of Bernstein and the music of Israel; between past and present."