The summer series concludes as, OLMC music director and music professor, Ms. Andrea Covais explores the rich tradition of sacred music. Each week we are featuring a new song that will be sung during that weekend’s Masses at Communion. We hope these short pieces enrich and deepen your spiritual journey during these times. This weekend we feature Simple Song from Mass by Leonard Bernstein.
As we close the sacred music series this summer, this Labor Day weekend, we take a look at the music of a truly American composer, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Bernstein, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts was not only a composer, but a pianist, music educator, author and conductor. He served as music director of the NY Philharmonic for many years, where he not only conducted the music of all the major composers, but revived the music of Gustav Mahler and started a series of Young People’s Concerts, Emmy Award winning television shows dedicated to music education and appreciation for young children. Bernstein’s compositional output is extremely prolific: symphonic and orchestral works, music for film, theater works, opera and chamber music. You may know his most famous pieces such as West Side Story, Candide or music for On the Town or On the Waterfront or know some of the rich history between Bernstein and the Tanglewood Festival, one of the largest music festivals held every summer in the Berkshires.
Mass was written in 1971 as a theater piece for singers, dancers and players. Bernstein wrote the music and most of the lyrics for the work, with some collaboration by Stephen Schwartz. The work was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy and premiered Labor Day week in1971 as part of the opening for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The works combines pieces of the Latin Trindentine Mass with traditional theater music of the time. “Simple Song” is sung in the first section of the work by the character of the Catholic priest and echoes the sentiment of Psalm 150: “I will sing the Lord a new song, to praise him, to bless him, to bless the Lord. I will sing his praises while I live all of my days: Lauda, Laude”!