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Celebrate 100 Years of Bernstein with These Festivals

Posted May 22, 2018 4:58 p.m. EDT

Whether you’re a fan of show tunes, operas or classical music, the name Leonard Bernstein quite likely inspires a familiar melody.

The composer, conductor and educator, who died in 1990, would have turned 100 on Aug. 25. This year, events to commemorate his centennial, collectively called “Leonard Bernstein at 100,” are happening all over the world, from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Vienna.

Bernstein’s three children, Jamie, Alex and Nina, own Leonard Bernstein Office Inc., and according to their research, there are some 3,000 celebrations honoring their father.

The majority of them take place this summer, and a full, searchable calendar is available on their website — leonardbernstein.com — so you can find an event near you.

“The diversity of the events is incredible,” Jamie Bernstein said. “There are symposiums at universities, exhibits and film festivals. Opera and theater companies, ballet houses and orchestras are also participating.”

She added that she and her siblings are traveling to as many of the celebrations as possible.

Among the most notable homages to Bernstein is an exhibition, “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” running at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia until Sept. 2.

Bernstein has a special connection with Philadelphia. He earned his conducting diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music and frequently returned in subsequent years, according to the exhibition curator, Ivy Weingram.

Spread over 2,200 square feet, the show includes more than 100 artifacts from Bernstein’s life, including his Steinway piano (a gift from his piano teacher, Helen Coates), and an annotated copy of “Romeo and Juliet”in which he formulated ideas for “West Side Story.”

Visitors can also see clips of his musicals and personal photos from his childhood in Boston. There’s a photograph of Bernstein as a teenager conducting a summer-camp orchestra. Museum admission is $15.

Another noteworthy commemoration for the artist is BBC Proms, a classical music festival in London’s Royal Albert Hall that runs from July 13 to Sept. 8.

The lineup features more than 10 concerts where Bernstein’s work will be played, including a performance Aug. 11 of music from “West Side Story.”

Also, on Aug. 31, Marin Alsop, who was a student of Bernstein’s, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Bernstein’s “Slava! A Political Overture” as well as his “Symphony No. 2.” Prices for performances start at 6 pounds, about $8.

But perhaps one of the biggest birthday celebrations will be in Lenox, Massachusetts. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer season at Tanglewood, running from June 15 to Sept. 2, is called “Bernstein Centennial Summer — Celebrating Lenny at Tanglewood!” and will pay tribute to Bernstein’s contributions to the festival from 1940 to 1990. The lineup has 14 performances that include Bernstein’s works like the opera “A Quiet Place” and his operetta “Candide.”

The culmination, on Aug. 25, is a gala concert that features artists and ensembles from the worlds of classical music, film and Broadway, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, concert singers Susan Graham and Isabel Leonard, and Broadway singers Jessica Vosk and Tony Yazbeck.

Tickets start at $12; visitors age 17 and younger receive free lawn tickets.