Then & Now 4/18: Fancy Free

Leonard Bernstein

On this date in 1944,  Leonard Bernstein’s ballet “Fancy Free” was first performed by the Ballet Theater at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. It was a big hit. Bernstein himself conducted, and took some 20 curtain calls.  Bernstein described the story of the ballet saying:  “The ballet is strictly wartime America, 1944, the curtain rises on a street corner with a lamp post, a side-street bar, and New York skyscrapers making a dizzying backdrop. Three sailors explode onto the stage. They are on 24-hour shore leave in the city and on the prowl for girls. The tale of how they meet first one, then a second, and how they fight over them, lose them, and in the end take off after still a third”.  Putting music, choreography and set designs together proved a logistical challenge.  Bernstein had to make recordings as he completed each section of the music on the piano.  He mailed these off to his partners, as Bernstein was working on the East Coast, Choreographer Jerome Robbins was on tour elsewhere in the country, and the set designer Oliver Smith was in Mexico. 

This weekend two members of the Florida Orchestra will collaborate on a program for kids (and unlike Bernstein, Robbins, and Smith) they’ll be in the same room at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center.  Florida Orchestra Principal Harpist Anna Kate Mackle joins Principal Percussionist John Shaw to perform and demonstrate their instruments with percussion and harp duets giving kids the chance to explore the sounds and possibilities of the percussion and harp sections!

Come early for art activities and the North Suncoast Associates’ Instrument Petting Zoo, where kids can try out a variety of musical instruments. Pre-concert activities begin 30 minutes before each concert.  Details are online at

Air Date: 
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 8:00am