Lenny on the (red) rocks: Bernstein's daughter, friends are coming to Utah to celebrate composer's 100th birthday

By Lottie Peterson Johnson - Deseret News
August 23, 2018

Over 200 miles from Salt Lake City, Moab might seem an unlikely destination for such a festival — but that distance makes it all the more enjoyable for Jamie Bernstein.

“It's part of the fun that it's hard to get there,” she said. “You can’t just jump on a plane and be there. The way I like to get there is to jump on two planes — one to Denver or Dallas, and then a smaller one to Grand Junction, Colorado, and then I rent a car — preferably a convertible — and I drive down from Grand Junction to Moab on this side road that hugs the Colorado River. It is the single most spectacular drive in the world. So just getting there is part of the fun already.”

And while Jamie Bernstein enjoys the spectacular views and festival experience each year, this one really hits home as it falls just after her father’s 100th birthday. The festival’s opening night concert on Aug. 31, titled “New Americans,” will feature a lecture from Sheng, Leonard Bernstein’s last student. The program will also highlight a few of Sheng’s Asia-influenced works and pieces from other composers who became American citizens during their lifetimes.

A week later, on Sept. 7, Jamie Bernstein will narrate a program alongside Barrett, who will perform on piano, titled “We Are Women: A Bernstein Cabaret” that highlights several of her father’s songs that were written for or about women. Wrapping up the festival is an event called "Coming to America," which will feature works from composer Aaron Copland, a friend of Leonard Bernstein's, and a few pieces honoring Bernstein on his centennial.

For Jamie Bernstein, who recently published a memoir titled “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein,” these events at the Moab Music Festival provide just a snapshot of how her father’s legacy has been celebrated this year and gives her assurance that his musical gift will keep on giving for generations to come.

“This whole year has been so insane,” she said. “There have been so many celebrations worldwide. My brother, sister and I were really hoping for a global celebration, but I’ve got to say, it's beyond anything we imagined — and it's so moving. There's something about my father and his music and the way he was that people have this really emotional connection to him. … It'll be great to go to Moab and get another big dose of that experience."

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Jamie Bernstein