Leonard Bernstein picked a dangerous course as composer, refusing to separate popular and “classical” elements in his music and thus garnering some critical censure. In that way he resembles Gershwin, who finally is recognized as more than a songwriter with outsize ambition and is now considered a seminal American composer. These two composers have been a key influence on my own work, largely because of the catholicity of their approach I’ve tried to emulate. That approach has assured Bernstein permanent importance in America and the world, but it is only one of the many reasons why his music is so loved to this day.
— William Bolcom

Lenny’s letter to my mother when I was 16 brought me to the coast, Curtis, and Juilliard; studying with him during his final years was an honor and a privilege. To have been gifted this opportunity to recall and celebrate him in the intimate, heartfelt manner of his own “Anniversaries” is a once in a lifetime blessing.
— Daron Hagen

Anniversaries for Lenny

Lara Downes is proud to announce a special project in commemoration of the 2018 Leonard Bernstein Centennial. Anniversaries for Lenny pairs Bernstein’s complete Anniversaries for Piano with a group of  newly commissioned “Anniversaries” from composers who are profoundly connected to the Bernstein legacy, including John Corigliano, David Rakowski, Ned Rorem, Stephen Schwartz and Bright Sheng. The complete collection of works will be released as a recording in early 2018.

A uniquely intimate tribute to the man and his music, this concert can be presented with the participation of Alexander Bernstein (the composer's son) as narrator, sharing personal stories about the friends and family to whom Bernstein's Anniversaries were dedicated, along with images and film clips of the composer at home and at work.

As we celebrate this 100th anniversary, we honor the life and legacy of Leonard Bernstein as a musical giant and an American icon. In Lara's own words: "Bernstein's incomparable ability to communicate his deep and abiding belief in the power of music changed American culture in his own time, and inspired the next generations of American musicians (myself included) always to follow his star."


I worshipped him (still do) and would do anything to honor him.
— John Corigliano