As a major highlight of the worldwide Bernstein centenary celebrations, Marin Alsop conducts Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Chichester Cathedral on Saturday 24 November 2018, where the piece was originally performed in 1965. The piece was commissioned by the Cathedral and the composer himself attended with his family and later wrote ‘In Chichester I heard angels sing’. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra brings together the three Cathedral choirs who sang in the original performance over 50 years ago – Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester.
The choral work was commissioned by Walter Hussey, Chichester Cathedral’s Dean, ahead of the Cathedral’s music festival featuring the three local Cathedral choirs. A strong friendship arose between Bernstein and Hussey through their correspondence regarding the commission. Walter Hussey was a true patron of the arts, he was forward-looking and a passionate advocate of contemporary arts, having also notably commissioned Marc Chagall, John Piper, Henry Moore and Benjamin Britten. The piece had its world premiere in New York a few weeks before Chichester with a mixed choir, before Bernstein showcased a male-voice choir version for the Chichester Cathedral music festival.
‘I am thrilled to reunite with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for this historical project celebrating my teacher and mentor, Leonard Bernstein. Performing Chichester Psalms at Chichester Cathedral is the perfect tribute to Bernstein. This brilliant and very personal piece embodies Bernstein’s faith in humanity, innocence and youth.’ Marin Alsop
‘We are proud to be presenting one of Leonard Bernstein’s most well-known choral works in the very Cathedral for which it was commissioned, with the three Cathedral choirs who sang in the UK premiere some fifty years ago. We are thrilled that our Conductor Emeritus Marin Alsop, who is so closely associated with Bernstein, returns for what promises to be a hugely memorable occasion.’ Dougie Scarfe, Chief Executive, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s performance in Chichester Cathedral is a centrepiece of Bernstein in Chichester, a centennial celebration to honour one of the great musical forces of the 20th century. The city made a notable impact on Leonard Bernstein. With a community-wide programme of events reflecting the composer’s diverse output as musician, gifted teacher and humanist, Bernstein in Chichester will join the city of Chichester to the global remembrance of one of the most vital musical figures of modern times.