A Beginner’s Guide to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Nov. 3

A Beginner’s Guide to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Nov. 3

Bernstein’s 'Mass' logo.

An interdisciplinary evening of lecture, discussion, and music will be held by the Department of Music and Campus Ministry to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bernstein’s Mass.

Leonard Bernstein's Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers will celebrate 50 years this year and Fairfield’s Department of Music and Campus Ministry will pay the work homage with their presentation of “A Beginner’s Guide to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass” on Wednesday, November, 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Egan School of Nursing’s Lynch Auditorium.

The event will be led by former classmates Michael Ciavaglia ’04, DMA, visiting assistant professor of music and co-director of the music program, and Director of Campus Ministry Rev. Keith A. Maczkiewicz, S.J., ’04.

The format of the evening will be lecture and discussion led by Fr. Mac and Dr. Ciavaglia and will include an analysis of Mass’s musical and textual form, as well the piece’s significance both in the seventies and today. The presentation is free and open to the public; advanced registration is not required.

“We have a long-standing common admiration, or even reverence, for the piece because of its music and its message,” said Dr. Ciavaglia. “Mass presents the texts of the Catholic Mass as a starting point for a work of drama and introspection. The resulting work is as rich and challenging now as it was 50 years ago.”

Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1971 for the opening of the Kennedy Center, world-renowned conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein chose to base the work on the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass, to honor and memorialize the Center’s namesake, who was the nation’s first Roman Catholic president.

Bernstein — a Fairfield University Honorary Degree recipient in 1989 as well as an area resident, with lyricist Stephen Schwartz, envisioned the piece as an exuberant, fully-staged dramatic pageant. The work mixes sacred and secular texts, using the traditional Latin liturgical sequence as the framework, and inserting contemporary English lyrics that question and challenge the prescribed service.

Bernstein’s score combines elements of musical theater, jazz, gospel, folk, and rock music, while also employing a rich symphonic palette that ranges from 12-tone serialism to subtle quotations from Beethoven’s Ninth. Bernstein is also known for his role as the longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as for his writing of the music for the highly acclaimed musical, West Side Story.

"It's not commonly performed," Dr. Ciavaglia noted. "As a result, we wanted to bring the piece onto campus in a concentrated, guided format. The College of Arts and Sciences and Campus Ministry partnership arose directly from the lecture’s purpose: an illumination of the musical and religious elements of this major twentieth century work."

This event is free and open to the public; attendees must present proof of Covid-19 vaccination upon arrival at the Egan School of Nursing’s Lynch Auditorium or proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 72 hours prior to arriving on campus. Masks are required inside all campus facilities. For complete information regarding Fairfield University’s Covid-19 protocols, please visit our Healthy Campus webpage at fairfield.edu/coronavirus.


A Beginner’s Guide to Leonard Bernstein’s MASS

Date: Wednesday, November, 3
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Egan School of Nursing’s Lynch Auditorium

Additional Details:

The presentation is free and open to the public; advanced registration is not required.

Tags:  Top Stories,  College of Arts & Sciences


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