Hit play below to listen to our extended Arts Alive feature with Elkhanah Pulitzer discussing Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” with Tim Greiving.
Leonard Bernstein’s Mass is a gigantic, ambitious piece of musical theatre. It’s about a celebrant officiating a religious mass, surrounded by choir singers and hippies as they all struggle with faith in the era of Vietnam and social collapse. It features an orchestra, multiple choirs, a marching band, and a wind ensemble, and has elements of avant-garde classical music, rock, blues, and Bernstein’s own unique, singable style.
The LA Philharmonic decided to perform Mass as part of the centennial celebration of Bernstein’s life and music this year, and they asked Elkhanah Pulitzer back to direct it. Pulitzer—yes, she’s related to that Pulitzer (Joseph, father of the famous prize)—directed the LA Phil’s production of Nixon in China last year. John Adams’ 1987 opera was ambitious in its own right, and set during the same time, but Mass gave Pulitzer an enormous new challenge: how to make this “kitchen sink” theater piece cohesive and contemporary—and, just logistically, how to fit that many bodies on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage.
Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, featuring the LA Philharmonic, LA Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, and UCLA Wind Ensemble, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and starring Ryan McKinny as the Celebrant, will be performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall beginning Thursday, February 1st. To learn more, click here.