Last week I had the opportunity to perform Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony #2 “Age of Anxiety” with the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. It’s an exhilarating piece, and is very much in Bernstein’s symphonic style of composition, with more weight and seriousness than his lighter pieces like Candide Overture, West Side Story, and Divertimento. I can foresee images of the New York city skyline, crowded streets, people on the move, etc. One of the most memorable parts of this piece for me was playing the section entitled “The Masque”, which is a very jazzy, syncopated section featuring solo piano (who actually plays the role of a concerto soloist throughout the whole symphony), percussion, harps, and one solo doublebass. What thrill… my fingers are still a bit sore from the workout.
Listen to New York Philharmonic bassist Orin O’Brien recalling her experience with this particular work.
Here is the entire “Masque” section, which lasts about five-minutes (Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra)