Maestro Leonard Bernstein achieved success as a composer for both the concert hall and the Broadway musical stage; his ballet scores were as irresistible to the public as were his popular songs. In an era when such comprehensive cultural impact seemed like a thing of the past, Bernstein demonstrated that it was still possible, and what’s more, that if it was done well, people would stop worrying about which was which.
On Saturday-Sunday, February 17-18, the Santa Barbara Symphony will take to the Granada stage, backed by the Santa Barbara Choral Society and accompanied by soloist Lisa Vroman in a program that tours the broad reaches of Bernstein’s achievement from a variety of perspectives and that places his work in a double context of Americana by featuring the works of two other American composers. Looking toward the past and at one of Bernstein’s most powerful influences, the program includes Aaron Copland’s suite Quiet City. Looking toward the future, pianist Natasha Kislenko will be the soloist for the debut of a new concerto by composer Robin Frost.
For classically trained Broadway star Vroman, Bernstein’s music makes a perfect fit. She’s performed several such Bernstein celebration concerts in recent years and will continue to be in high demand as the world acknowledges his centennial. Most of all, Vroman has the ideal attitude, which is a combination of unabashed enthusiasm and commitment to honoring the music. She also loves the Granada and working with her good friend maestro Nir Kabaretti. She even enjoys the trip from her home in Pasadena, saying, “I love the drive because I just put my gowns in the car and go.” We look forward to when she pulls in this weekend.
The Santa Barbara Symphony will perform Saturday, February 17, 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 18, 3 p.m. See thesymphony.org or call 899-2222.