Jamie Bernstein Part 2: Reminding the World Who Leonard Bernstein Was

By Erica Miner - Broadway World
June 12, 2018

Erica Miner: Traveling the US narrating your Bernstein Beat concerts, you encountered many musicians who have "a personal story to tell" about your father: "a moment when they'd had a meaningful exchange...that they never forgot." For me, working with him at Tanglewood and the Met Opera were life-changing experiences. Do you still get this kind of reaction and sentiment from musicians you meet now, or are we all getting too old?

Jamie Bernstein: No. More now than ever. Everywhere my brother, sister and I go--and of course we're traveling so much this year--people come up to us, both in the audiences and in the orchestras. I cannot tell you how many of them have that same thing to say. "I had this conversation with your father and he made me feel like I was the only person he was interested in, in the world. We had this incredibly meaningful exchange and I never forgot it." Or they say, "It's because of the Young People's Concerts that I am in this audience--in this orchestra--today." Over recent years, I began to grasp the degree of impact my father had for so many people who are music lovers or musicians. I think that to this very day, a significant percentage of the butts in seats in concert halls are there because they got their start with Young People's Concerts. Honestly. And of course they're dying out now, winnowing down, and not being replaced. In the 60s, 70s and 80s these gigantic concert halls were built and now they can't fill them. I don't know how this is all going to shake out eventually, but it's quite a problem.

EM: There's nobody who can quite replace your dad.

JB: That is true. Even if a conductor came along who was as good as he was--Gustavo Dudamel, or Yannick Nézet-Séguin, fabulous conductors, but they're not also educators, composers, activists and all the other things my father also was simultaneously. The simultaneity is what's hard to replicate.

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Jamie Bernstein