Leonard Bernstein would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. I composed a short piano piece in honor of the man whose singular ability to communicate passion to audiences around the world continues to inspire me.
Bernstein gave a series of lectures at Harvard University in 1973 in which he took Charles Ives' metaphysical "Unanswered Question" out for a spin. His wide-ranging discussion encompassed everything from music analysis and history to linguistics, aesthetic philosophy, phonology, and physics. To me, this exploration encapsulates Bernstein: passionate, thoughtful, inclusive, communicative, joyful.
Six lectures culminate in what might be considered Bernstein’s artistic credo - a celebratory, organic synthesis of many styles and ideas, shared with sincerity and exuberance. Bernstein concludes with an open heart and open arms: “I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know the answer, and the answer is: Yes.”
“As a soloist, Kallor played a Bernstein tribute titled The Answer Is: Yes, and if you braced yourself for West Side Story cliches, you were happily surprised with an extravagant fantasy... that showed just how fine of a pianist Kallor is.”
–David Patrick Stearns, Condemned To Music
“an attractive, jazz-inflected solo”
–Clive Paget, Limelight
“There were no Bernstein musical quotes, but his spirit was present in Kallor’s own melodies, rhythms and dynamism. The seamless interplay between classical and jazz were Kallor’s alone.”
–Rick Perdian, Seen and Heard International
“a short, breezy piece that while, very much in Kallor’s style, also cleverly weaved in moments that recalled bits of Lenny’s best.”
–Matt Costello, Opera Wire
“Kallor premiered a new piece for solo piano in tribute to Leonard Bernstein, who happens to be buried at Green-Wood. It was an appropriate tribute to the maestro, blending classical, jazz and dizzying agility.”
–Richard Sasanow, Broadway World
“Kallor then delivered another world premiere, solo, playing The Answer Is: Yes, a dedication to Leonard Bernstein (who according to the program notes is a permanent Green-Wood resident). The title is a typically exuberant Bernstein quote from a series of Harvard lectures, and rang true as Kallor methodically shifted gears between distantly Stravinskian, balletesque leaps and bounds, saturnine lustre and a little bittersweet blues. So many other composers inspired by Bernstein end up aping him. Kallor did nothing of the sort.”
–Alan Young, New York Music Daily