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Rochester Becomes a Wonderful Town as Leonard Bernstein's Daughter Celebrates With RPO

January 21, 2009

Jamie Bernstein Shares Personal and Musical Anecdotes in Memory of Father’s 90th Birthday Year

Rochester, NY – The life of Leonard Bernstein, one of America’s greatest musical icons who crossed the boundaries between – and successfully inhabited – the sometimes contradictory worlds of musical theater, symphonic music, conducting, and composition, will be celebrated by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra under Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik at 8:00 pm on Friday, February 6 and Saturday, February 7, 2009 at the Eastman Theatre.  The composer’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, helps recognize what would have been her father’s 90th birthday year by bringing four of his best-loved musicals to life with guest vocalists Jeffrey Picón, tenor, and Michelle Areyzaga, soprano.  In her role as narrator, Jamie takes audiences on a colorful tour of her father’s Broadway world by providing background information, personal anecdotes, and brief synopses for the audience.
It is a rare treat for audiences to hear such a personal connection to Bernstein’s music from Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, and West Side Story.  Jamie’s readings from the fascinating letters between Bernstein and his wife, the pianist and actress Felicia Montealegre, will provide special insight into the difficult, contentious, and sometimes painful creation of West Side Story.  She also will illustrate her father’s brilliant compositional techniques including the interweaving of his “New York, New York” motive in the “Times Square” ballet music from On the Town, or the use of the theme from “Somewhere” under the lovers’ duet “Tonight” from West Side Story.

Having grown up in an atmosphere bursting with music, theater, and literature, Jamie Bernstein has replicated her father’s desire and talent to share and teach.  She has written and produced several concerts for families and young people on the music of Copland, Mozart, Bernstein, and others.  Jamie also travels the world as a concert narrator, appearing with orchestras from Philadelphia to Beijing in works by William Walton, Aaron Copland, and her father.  As broadcaster, Jamie has produced and hosted numerous shows for radio in the United States (WQXR and live New York Philharmonic radio broadcasts) and Great Britain for BBC Radio 3.

Tenor Jeffrey Picón performs a diverse repertoire both as a concert and opera singer.  His recently made his debut with the Arizona Opera, and has sung with the Opera Company of North Carolina and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.  Other recent appearances include roles in Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Verdi’s Falstaff, and The Secret Marriage by Demenico Cimarosa.  He played Tony in West Side Story with the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and this season he takes the stage with the New York City Opera in Carmen, Cendrillon, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca.  In concert, he has sung in two New York Festival of Song programs, sang Janáček with the American Symphony Orchestra, Brahms with the Moab Music Festival and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

Michelle Areyzaga debuted with Chicago Opera Theatre in The Kaiser of Atlantis, and since then, has demonstrated her vocal dexterity in diverse operatic roles and concert appearances, including Bernstein on Broadway during the Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival, and at the Tilles Center on Long Island.  Most recently, she debuted with Opera Birmingham as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and was seen on public television as Pamina as part of Chicago’s Silk Road Initiative.  Known for her interpretation of contemporary American music, her live performances are frequently broadcast on Chicago's WFMT.

Tickets for these performances range from $20-$58, and are available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100); in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  Students and senior citizens are entitled to a 20% discount on advance single ticket purchases as well as half-price rush tickets beginning at 10:00 am on the concert day, subject to availability. Special rates for groups of 10 or more also are available from the RPO Box Office; call 454-2100.

The WPOP Series is sponsored by Wegmans; this concert is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. 

Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. 

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