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La Jolla Symphony & Chorus to present ‘Mass’ premiere

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus will present the San Diego premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s controversial composition, “Mass,” first performed in 1971 at the opening of the Kennedy Center and commissioned by Jackie Kennedy.

The LJS&C performances will take place Dec. 4-6 at the Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD.

“Mass” follows the Roman Catholic liturgy through “the celebrant” who is having a crisis of faith (portrayed by Ken Anderson, UCSD Gospel Choir Director) and who is frequently interrupted by commentary from “the congregation” in a running debate.

In the end, the celebrant finds that the loneliness of his doubt is no match for the joy of gathering together with other believers in praise.

Called a “theater piece for singers, players and dancers,” the “Mass” will be directed by Charlie Oates of the UCSD Theater Department and conducted by Steven Schick.

Special guests will include North Coast Singers’ 30-voice children’s choir, dancers Alison Dietterle Smith and Tonnie Sammartano, and members of the UCSD Gospel Choir and Jazz Ensemble.

Allan Burrett designed the lighting. Allyson Green handled the choreography.

The production will involve three choruses, rock and jazz bands, orchestra and recorded music. A pre-concert lecture will take place an hour before each curtain.

LJS&C Concert

What: Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Mass’

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 4-5, 3 p.m. Dec. 6

Where: UCSD Mandeville Auditorium

Tickets; $18-$39; (858) 534-4637; lajollasymphony.com