THE BERNSTEIN BEAT
          (CARNEGIE HALL, NOV 1, 2008)

 

Developed by Michael Barrett and Jamie Bernstein 
                           Written by Jamie Bernstein

 

                           (EXCERPTS)

Excerpt #1

 

OPENING MUSIC --  ON THE TOWN: “TIMES SQUARE”

 

Hi everybody! I’m Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein's daughter, and this is the wonderful Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and this is our conductor, Maestro Michael Barrett.

 

Didn’t that music make you want to tap your feet and bop around in your chair? Well, that’s what it’s supposed to do! My father wrote that music to wake everybody up, and show ‘em to how much fun music can be. And guess what: at this concert, you're allowed to tap your feet and bop around in your chair! That goes for you alleged grownups, too. Cause Leonard Bernstein loved rhythm, and his music jumps.

 

That music you just heard was the Times Square Ballet from my father’s first Broadway musical, On the Town. Couldn't you just hear all the bustle and hubbub of Times Square right there in the music?

 

Now the cool thing about my father is that he had two jobs: he composed music,  but he  also  conducted orchestras, like Maestro Barrett  here. For Leonard Bernstein, music was never just a bunch of dry notes on a page. Music was a living, breathing thing to him. When he conducted an orchestra, he used his whole body to communicate the music. He even jumped in the air sometimes! (One time, in Texas, he actually fell off the podium.) Now, when we listen to the music Leonard Bernstein wrote, we can hear that exact same physical quality the music wants to dance. And that’s because Bernstein music is always a celebration of rhythm. And that's what we’re going to look at today: RHYTHM.

 

Excerpt #2

And right there, the wild dance kicks in. It’s called a Mambo, which is a very fun, very fast Cuban dance. Check out how the various percussion instruments play different rhythms that all magically fit together. The cowbells are doing this:

 

                  10a. EXAMPLE: COWBELLS FROM “MAMBO”

 

While the timbales are doing this:

 

                  10b. EXAMPLE: TIMBALES FROM “MAMBO”

 

And the bongos are doing this:

 

                  10c. EXAMPLE:  BONGOS FROM “MAMBO”

 

And they all fit together like this:

 

                  10abc:MAMBO PERCUSSION ALL TOGETHER

 

 I defy you to sit motionless in your chair when all those rhythms start cooking together!  I know I can't. But then, you may have noticed that I can never sit still during Bernstein music!

 

So let’s listen to the whole sequence now. Oh, but there’s one more thing. We’re going to need your help on this one. After you hear this phrase --

 

          10d. EXAMPLE: MUSIC LEADING TO SHOUT OF “MAMBO!”

 

-- you have to yell “MAMBO!” at the top of your lungs. Well, you do; it’s written right there in the score! Even the orchestra players are supposed to yell it. It’s the name of the Cuban dance, remember? You’ll get to shout it twice. And to help you, I’ll hold up this sign to help you find the right spot.  Let’s rehearse it one time. Maestro?

 

          10d. REHEARSE “MAMBO!”  SHOUT  WITH SIGN

 

Oh come on, you guys can do better than that! Give it some real salsa!

 

     10d.(again)  REHEARSE “MAMBO!”  SHOUT  WITH SIGN

 

Oh, you are SO READY to go to the dance at the gym!

 

10e. MAMBO AND CHA-CHA, SYMPHONIC DANCES FROM “WEST SIDE STORY”

(Narrator cues audience for their “Mambo!” shouts