Review: Ravinia Festival’s Bernstein “Mass”

Posted on: July 30, 2018

“Marin Alsop was right. The conductor—a protege of Leonard Bernstein’s—long has argued that the composer’s ‘Mass’ is not the stylistic mess its early critics claimed,” writes Howard Reich in Monday’s (7/30) Chicago Tribune. “Nearly half a century after its premiere at the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, in 1971, ‘Mass’ still can speak urgently to contemporary audiences. Alsop proved all this Saturday night at the Ravinia Festival, where she led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Children’s Choir, Highland Park High School Marching Band and the ensemble Vocality—nearly 300 people in all—in a historic, staged revival of ‘Mass,’ to mark this year’s Bernstein centennial…. This [was] the first time the CSO performed Bernstein’s epic, eclectic, hyperdramatic score…. Some of the most searing moments came via spoken word … [reflecting] the troubles of our times…. [Director Kevin] Newbury embraced the full breadth of Ravinia’s pavilion, the Street Chorus at one point leaving the stage to flood the aisles and cry out their anguish directly to the audience.…  Perhaps by not giving us [a resolution], Bernstein and co-librettist Stephen Schwartz are saying simply that faith transcends reason. Bernstein’s searing score helps us make that enormous leap.”

Posted July 30, 2018