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Massive, Seldom-Staged Bernstein Work Comes to SC


With musical influences as diverse as jazz, Broadway, rock, and the liturgy of the Catholic Church, Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers is a work that demands versatility from its scores of performers. The range of music genres in Mass, along with the difficulties of coordinating the variety of performing groups for which it calls, make staging the work a seldom-pursued challenge.

That challenge is one to which the University of South Carolina School of Music and other guest musicians are rising this weekend, giving three performances of the work from March 2nd-March 4th, at the Koger Center in Columbia.

In this interview that aired Tuesday, February 27th, SCPR’s Bradley Fuller speaks with Ellen Schlaefer, Director of Opera Studies at the university and stage director for the school’s upcoming production of Mass, as well as tenor Kevin Vortmann, who will perform the part of Celebrant. The two share about the background of the 1971 work, the challenges of performing it, and the messages communicated through the music.

Credit Bradley Fuller/ SC Public Radio
Ellen Schlaefer, stage director for USC's production of Mass

More information can be found here.