Chichester marked a number of important centenaries in 2018: the end of the First World War; the Representation of the People Act that paved the way for universal suffrage ten years later; the gift of Priory Park to the citizens by the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon; and the birth of Leonard Bernstein.
The Bernstein in Chichester festival celebration, pictured below, of the city’s close ties with the American composer joined Chichester to London, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Tokyo and other towns and cities across six continents in the global remembrance of one of the 20th century’s greatest musicians.
At the close of the performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms in the cathedral at the end of November, a member of the audience approached us, the organisers of the festival, and said the evening made her proud to be part of the Chichester community. In a packed cathedral, some 850 stood and passionately applauded Marin Alsop, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester cathedrals. Everyone present will forever remember and cherish that glorious occasion.
Reflecting on the success of the eight-month programme of events, as organisers, we must give special thanks to everyone who supported our concerts, ballet, workshops, revues, jazz, talks, film shows and exhibitions – all the private donors, sponsors, participating organisations, performers, and above all the brilliant audiences whose numbers exceeded our expectations.
We were proud to welcome Leonard Bernstein’s son, Alexander, back to the city, which he first visited as a ten year-old when he accompanied his parents to the first performance of Chichester Psalms in the cathedral in July, 1965. He flew in from New York to join our closing weekend and spoke of how proud his father would have been to know how much Chichester values that legacy.
As we enter the new year, we are exploring opportunities to host a short annual festival to build on last year’s success, and to ensure continuing recognition of the close bonds between the city and Leonard Bernstein.
Edward Milward-Oliver and Emma-Jane Wyatt, organisers of Bernstein in Chichester.