FOUR FINALISTS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FROM A FIELD OF 41 CANDIDATES TO COMPETE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONDUCT THE BOSTON POPS IN BERNSTEIN’S OVERTURE TO CANDIDE DURING A CONCERT IN SYMPHONY HALL ON JUNE 7
FINAL ROUND TO TAKE PLACE AT A BOSTON POPS REHEARSAL, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF KEITH LOCKHART ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, BETWEEN 10:30-1 P.M.
CONDUCTING COMPETITION, FOR MUSIC STUDENTS AGES 18-30 FROM NEW ENGLAND OR NEW YORK STATE, IS PART OF THE 2018 BOSTON POPS SEASON, MAY 9-JUNE 16, CELEBRATING THE CENTENNIAL OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN, WHO MADE HIS PROFESSIONAL ORCHESTRA CONDUCTING DEBUT WITH THE BOSTON POPS IN 1941, AS A PRIZE FOR WINNING A MUSIC QUIZ IN THE BOSTON HERALD
Four young finalists—from a field of 41 candidates—have been chosen to compete for a chance to conduct the Boston Pops in a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture at a concert to take place on Thursday, June 7, 8-10 p.m., at Symphony Hall. The final round to choose a winner for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will take place a a Boston Pops rehearsal, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, on Wednesday, June 6, from 10:30-1 p.m. At that time, after each candidate has had a chance to conduct the Boston Pops in Bernstein’s iconic score, Keith Lockhart, BSO Artistic Administrator Tony Fogg, and the Boston Pops members will choose a winner to lead the orchestra in the Overture to Candide during the following night’s Pops concert in front of a live audience.
The four finalists are: Tamara Dworetz, age 29, Boston University doctoral student, 2018-2021; Jherrard Hardeman, age 20, Longy School of Music of Bard College Class of 2020; John Masko, age 26, Providence, RI; Benjamin Wenzelberg, age 18, Harvard University Class of 2021
BACKGROUND ON THE BOSTON POPS CONDUCTING COMPETITION
As part of the Boston Pops’ season-long centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, May 9-June 16, Keith Lockhart and the orchestra held a conducting competition open to students ages 18-30 who live in or attend school in New England or New York, offering an aspiring young conductor a chance to lead the Boston Pops in Bernstein’s Overture to Candide as part of a concert on June 7 at Symphony Hall. Inspired by Mr. Bernstein, the competition gives contestants the same opportunity that he had on July 11, 1941, when he made his professional conducting debut after winning a contest held by the Boston Herald. Sharing the podium with Arthur Fiedler, famed Boston Pops Conductor from 1930 to 1979, Bernstein led the orchestra in Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It was an auspicious event in the life of the young Leonard Bernstein, who would go on to step in at the last minute to lead the New York Philharmonic for an ailing Bruno Walter in 1943, and take on the title of music director of that ensemble in 1958, among a multitude of other major accomplishments throughout his life as a musician.
To enter, contestants had to submit a live performance video (with or without an audience) of themselves conducting an ensemble of any size in a musical piece of their choosing to Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #ConductingBernstein. Videos had to be shared publicly on the social media sites to be considered for the competition. With their social media post, contestants also had to share the reason, in 150 words or less, why they should be chosen to receive the opportunity of a lifetime to conduct the Boston Pops in Bernstein’s Overture to Candide on Thursday, June 7. Before or after their audition on June 6, the finalists will also take part in a short interview with Boston Pops Director of Artistic Planning Dennis Alves. The contest was open to students ages 18-30 who are legal residents of the United States and live in or attend school in New England or New York State.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S ASSOCIATION WITH THE BOSTON POPS
Born on August 25, 1918, Leonard Bernstein, a towering artistic figure of the 20th century, first set foot in Symphony Hall at age 14 in the spring of 1932 to attend a Boston Pops concert with his father; the program, led by Arthur Fiedler, included Ravel’s Bolero and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville Overture , among other selections. Bernstein later made his professional conducting debut on July 11, 1941, leading the Boston Pops in a concert in the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade as a result of a contest held by the Boston Herald. Sharing the podium with Arthur Fiedler, famed Boston Pops Conductor from 1930 to 1979, Bernstein led the orchestra in Wagner's Prelude to "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg." It was an auspicious event in the life of the young Leonard Bernstein, who would go on to step in at the last minute to lead the New York Philharmonic for an ailing Bruno Walter in 1943, and take on the title of music director of the ensemble in 1958, among a multitude of other major accomplishments throughout his life as a musician.
Leonard Bernstein’s association with the Boston Pops also includes an appearance in 1944 leading a spring Pops program at Symphony Hall and doubling as piano soloist for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. In August 1955, Bernstein appeared as a piano soloist with the Boston Pops under the direction of Arthur Fiedler in a performance of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. In 1964, he shared conducting duties with Arthur Fiedler for the 25th reunion concert for the Harvard Class of 1939’s “Night at the Pops,” returning to the podium 20 years later to take on the conducting duties for the “Harvard Night at Pops” program in conjunction with his 50th class reunion in 1989.
The Boston Pops has recorded music by Leonard Bernstein on 13 different albums from an Arthur Fielder recording featuring the Overture to Candide and selections from Bernstein’s Mass in 1976 to a Keith Lockhart recording of “Times Square: 1944” from On the Town in 1997. Among the highlights is a 1981 Boston Pops album, Bernstein by Boston, recorded under the baton of Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams.
Leonard Bernstein was also closely associated with the Boston Symphony, especially through his near annual appearances at Tanglewood from 1940 until 1990. Bernstein’s close relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra—from the time he became a protégé of legendary BSO Conductor and Tanglewood founder Serge Koussevitzky as a member of the first Tanglewood Music Center class in 1940, until the final concerts he ever conducted before his passing, which were with the BSO and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra at Tanglewood in the summer of 1990—solidified his place as one of the key figures in the BSO’s storied history. The spring Pops season is part of a year-long worldwide celebration of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein's birth, which includes the 2018 Tanglewood season, entitled Bernstein Centennial Summer—Celebrating Lenny at Tanglewood!, and a celebration of the incomparable maestro during the BSO’s 2017-18 season at Symphony Hall in Boston.