BSO conductor Lucas Richman and the legendary Leonard Bernstein, seen here in an undated photo from the early 1980s. Credit: Lucas Richman

Orchestras across the nation have in 2018 been celebrating the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, the composer and conductor who was among the first American conductors to receive international acclaim.

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra is no exception, and will mark the Bernstein centennial year with a number of performances, discussions and screenings featuring the works of the beloved Maestro throughout the 2018-2019 season.

The season kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 7 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, with a performance of Bernstein’s “Simple Song,” from his “Mass,” featuring mezzo-soprano Joelle Morris.

The concert also features acclaimed Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein, who will make his second appearance with the BSO, performing Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G; Goldstein last performed with the BSO in Nov. 2012, playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The concert will end with Jean Sibelius’ infrequently performed Symphony No. 2.

Credit: Courtesy of Bangor Symphony Orchestra

The Bernstein centennial is of particular significance for BSO conductor Lucas Richman, who counts him as one of his mentors when he was a young man first starting out as a conductor. Richman was a student of Bernstein’s during the inaugural Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute in 1982, and later was personally chosen by Bernstein to tour with West Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra. Richman also shared the podium with the Maestro in Moscow and in London.

From Bernstein, Richman learned many things, but most importantly, a commitment to teaching the art and the joy of music to younger generations.

In a story in the Bangor Daily News back in October 2009 — when Richman was merely “auditioning” for the role of music director for the BSO, nearly a year before he was offered the job in June 2010 — Richman spoke about Bernstein’s lasting legacy.

“Everything he did was a form of teaching, whether it was conducting, composing or performing,” Richman said in that 2009 interview. “I try to bring that passion to everything that I do, as well. The challenge is not to bring people in their 20s and 30s into concert halls. The challenge is to educate and instill in children that basic appreciation and love for the arts, so that when they are older, and have the time to sit back and appreciate it, they will come.”

After the kickoff concert on Oct. 7, there are many more Bernstein events planned. At the Nov. 4 concert, the BSO will perform his “Serenade (After Plato’s ‘Symposium’)” with violinist Chloe Trevor. On Nov. 13, a book club event will be held at the Bangor Arts Exchange Gallery at 193 Exchange St., to talk about the book “Famous Father Girl,” the memoir written by Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein. In 2019, there are film screenings and lectures, culminating with an April 7 concert featuring selections from Bernstein’s operetta “Candide.”

Tickets for the Oct. 7 concert start at $15 and can be purchased at the Collins Center for the Arts box office.

Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.