Leslie Stifelman has had the unique opportunity to provide artistic, production and administrative leadership for large scale productions on Broadway, Concert Halls, Film and Television.
Celebrating Carnegie Hall’s 125th Anniversary, Leslie Stifelman was the Music Supervisor and Producer for The Somewhere Project, a sprawling city-wide exploration of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Nearly 10,000 people from across all five boroughs engaged with this master-work’s timeless music and themes. From March 4–6, 2016, three extraordinary culminating performances of West Side Story were presented at the Knockdown Center, a restored factory in Queens. This production blurred the boundary between students and professionals. High school–aged apprentice performers joined the cast of the production, immersing themselves in every dance step of this incredible work alongside professionals. The production also featured a choir of high school students from across the city, adding a new dimension to Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score. Leslie was charged with finding, coordinating, auditioning, casting, and finally teaching for performance:
200 high school singers from all five boroughs
15 high school apprentice cast members
32 high schools represented in the production
29 professional cast members
40–piece professional orchestra
“The sound of so many voices added a layer of emotional plushness to the songs that was goosepimple–inducing, and utterly irresistible. So, really, was the entire production, which may have been conceived in part as a public-spirited educational project, but ultimately became a simple yet transporting production of a great musical.”
—The New York Times review
“If theater is a reflection of our society, The Somewhere Project’s take on the classic musical West Side Story this past weekend provides hope that there can be peace if only we ask what it means universally to be human, instead of reinforcing the labels that make us different.”
—The Huffington Post review
THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA: BERNSTEIN AT 100
As part of the world-wide celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin presented two seminal productions of West Side Story and Candide. Leslie Stifelman was the music supervisor for these gala events honoring Bernstein - bringing together artists from Broadway and Opera, including the incredible voices of Isabel Leonard, Erin Morely, Morgan James and Ryan Silverman.
THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY: BERNSTEIN’S MASS
Nearly half a century after its premiere at the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, in 1971, Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” speaks urgently to contemporary audiences. In a historic, staged revival of “Mass,” to mark the Bernstein at 100 celebration, Leslie Stifelman was the music supervisor for the production at the Ravinia Festival conducted by Maestra Marin Alsop and directed by Kevin Newbury. The production involved nearly 300 people in all - including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Children’s Choir, Highland Park High School Marching Band and the ensemble Vocality. Remarkably, this is believed to have been the first professional presentation of the work in the Chicago area (Northwestern University produced it in 2009) and stands as the first time the CSO performed Bernstein’s epic, eclectic, hyper-dramatic score.
CARMINA BURANA CHORAL PROJECT: THE WEILL MUSIC INSTITUTE AT CARNEGIE HALL
Carnegie Hall presented The Carmina Burana Choral Project, featuring 200 high school singers and 50 middle school singers from all over New York City with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by David Robertson. Leslie designed all the curriculum components including latin text studies, musical technique and diction, sound production and choral style for this performance.
The students in the “Carmina” chorus, who came from 5 schools with specialized arts programs as well as the ensemble Songs of Solomon, made the point with their incisive and vigorous singing. At the end, when the directors of all the schools choirs appeared during the ovation, the audience screeched with cheers. It was good for once to see dedicated teachers getting their due.
—The New York Times review