Vincent Gray’s ‘Bernstein’ can be seen in the Cathedral Cloisters Café Garden for the duration of the summer.
Leonard Bernstein at 100 will honour the life and career of the legendary composer and conductor; a worldwide celebration of the life and career of Leonard Bernstein. Over 2,500 events across six continents, which were launched in the United States at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. on 22 September 2017.
In 1963 the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, Walter Hussey, wrote a letter to Leonard Bernstein. In it he described the annual Southern Cathedral Choirs Festival, involving the cathedral choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester, who each year, took a turn to host the short summer festival. In 1965 it was to be the turn of Chichester Cathedral and expressing a desire to encourage a new choral work in to the repertoire he asked whether the composer would be willing to do so. Bernstein accepted.
The Bernstein in Chichester festival celebrates this most famous commission of music for Chichester, the Chichester Psalms.
Bernstein clung to the belief that by creating beauty, and by sharing it with as many people as possible, artists had the power to tip the earthly balance in favour of brotherhood and peace. After all, he reasoned, if humans could create and appreciate musical harmony, then surely they were capable of replicating that very same harmony in the world they lived in.
Why I made the sculpture
23 years ago (1995) I designed and made a sculptural maquette of Bernstein. Inspired by the man, it was my father who introduced me to the music of Bernstein. My parents were keen theatre goers and this included musicals. As a young boy I would hear my father’s voice resonating through the house singing songs from a range of musicals including, for example, ‘Maria’ from Westside Story.
It stuck with me and following the sudden death of my parents, I needed to get back to something I could hold onto as a memory of the joy my parents brought me. I made the maquette for that purpose, and during my research learned of the Chichester Psalms. The following year (1996) I was offered exhibition space in ‘Paradise’, the green area within Chichester Cathedral’s cloisters, and knew immediately what I would produce; a scaled up version of Bernstein at life size.
10 years ago the ‘Friends of St Richards Hospital bought the sculpture and it has since been standing in the grounds of the hospital.
When I learned of the Bernstein 100 celebrations and subsequently met with the organisers, Edward Milward-Oliver and Emma-Jane Wyatt, I put the notion to them that it would be a good idea to bring the sculpture back to the Cathedral for the summer period in celebration of Bernstein 100 in Chichester. They became very excited about the prospect and the wheels started turning.
Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) is generally recognised as music’s most exuberant hero. Composer, conductor, pianist, teacher, humanitarian, thinker, entertainer and adventurous spirit, he forged his many talents with an irresistible personality to transform the way people everywhere hear and appreciate music. He broke rules, shattered precedents and opened doors.