In 1971 the composer Leonard Bernstein was approached by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to produce a piece for the inauguration of Washington D.C.’s new Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The result was MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Composers.
Bridging the gap between classical and popular music, this eclectic, theatrical style piece captured the uncertain nature of America at the time, as the optimism of the 1960s gave way to increased conflict in the wake of the polarisation of the Vietnam War, and the rise of the civil rights movement.
In this short video the American conductor Marin Alsop, herself a protege of Bernstein’s, joins Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE to discuss the composer and in particular his celebrated piece, MASS. The pair also look at Bernstein’s wish to bring people together through music, and how the themes of his work continue to have a strong relevance today.