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Leonard Bernstein’s MASS
By the late 1960s, the country had become polarized over U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A powerful anti-war movement swept the nation, fueled by outrage at the draft, the massive casualties, atrocities such as the Mai Lai Massacre, incursions into Laos and Cambodia, the imprisonment of conscientious objectors and activists, and in 1970, the Kent State shootings. These turbulent times produced a restless youth culture that hungered for a trustworthy government and for spiritual authority that reflected their values. MASS gave them a voice.
During his legendary tenure at the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, Leonard Bernstein composed only two works, Symphony No. 3: Kaddish (1963) and Chichester Psalms (1965). He had dedicated Kaddish to the memory of John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination, and when Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis asked Bernstein to compose a piece for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., he was eager to honor the occasion with a new, large-scale work because he knew he had always wanted “to compose a service of one sort or another.” The son of Russian-Jewish parents, a social liberal, and lifelong activist, Bernstein made a surprising choice: the Roman Catholic Mass. But instead of a straightforward, purely musical setting of the Latin liturgy, he created a broadly eclectic theatrical event by placing the 400-year-old religious rite into a tense, dramatic dialog with music and lyrics of the 20th century vernacular, using this dialectic to explore the crisis in faith and cultural breakdown of the post-Kennedy era.
Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95113 Located between 2nd and 3rd St. in downtown San Jose.
Convenient parking available @ 2nd & San Carlos Garage $5 flat fee after 6 PM
Accessible by BART and VTA (2nd & Paseo De San Antonio exit is in front of the Hammer Theatre)