Superlatives are in order for the new movie that I’ve just seen on the big screen…Maestro, the biopic of the life and times of Leonard Bernstein.

Maestro is a masterpiece, a love letter to life and art, the story of Leonard Bernstein (played by the movie’s co-writer, director and star, Bradley Cooper) and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (beautifully portrayed by Carrie Mulligan).   A third co-star is the music itself with a soundtrack that includes excerpts from Bernstein’s Broadway scores for West Side Story and Candide, his opera A Quiet Place, music for the film On the Waterfront, portions of his second and third symphonies as well as his Mass and Chichester Psalms.

Canada’s impressive conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who now leads the musical forces at the Metropolitan Opera, has taught Mr. Cooper how to conduct like Bernstein, a skill that reaches its climax when the Maestro triumphantly leads the full London (UK) Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in six continuous minutes of glorious music from the finale of Mahler’s second symphony, The Resurrection.

Bernstein’s eldest daughter, Jamie, has said, “We knew that Bradley wanted to use our dad’s music in the score, but I don’t think, in the beginning, we even grasped how much of a presence it would wind up having in the film. It really illustrates the emotional beats of the story.”

Personally, I sat enthralled for 129 minutes at what this production has accomplished:  from the intriguing telling of the story to such production values as how Mr. Cooper is transformed by makeup and movement into the physical match of the Maestro himself.

Let me urge you to see Maestro whether on a nearby movie screen or on your tv when it opens (Wednesday, December 20) via Netflix.   It’s playing somewhere near you now and I can think of no better way to spend some holiday time than with the story and the music of this film!  Here’s a short track to tease you:

Celebrate the Season 2023: a Huron Waves holiday presentation

For the past three years, our music festival has produced its own videomusical and for this holiday season we’re reaching back and refreshing the first presentation so that it includes footage from our 2023 GAIA season in Exeter.

Celebrate the Season 2023 begins airing at 7pm, Thursday, December 21 thanks to the production work of FauxPop Media in Goderich and the viewing opportunities of three local networks, TCC/Tuckersmith, Huron Tel and Hay Communication.  At the time of my writing this message, the full viewing schedule is set as:

  • Thursday, December 21 – 7pm
  • Sunday, December – 7 pm
  • Monday, December 25 – 3 pm
  • Sunday, December 31 – 7 pm
  • Monday, January 1 – 3 pm

For those of you outside of these telco viewing areas, the program will also be available on YouTube, likely that same (December 21) evening, but definitely within a day or two, as well as on the Festival’s website  Just remember that this particular show is  called  Celebrate the Season 2023.

Celebrate the Season 2023  is hosted by the famous Canadian actor, Graham Greene, and includes cellist Thomas Beard, First Nations Sunset Drummers and dancers, soprano Christine Bell with accompanist Andrea Grant, ballerina Antonella Martinelli from the crops de ballet of the National Ballet of Canada, Huron County’s own Hussey Family featuring Matthew Hussey singing All Is Calm, and special guests, Newfoundland Deaf Choir, all of whom were part of the original 2020 production.  Paul Ciufo, President of the Festival Board of Directors, welcomes viewers from two Exeter sites, the chiming Bell Tower at Trivitt Church on Main Street where our GAIA programming was set this past June and the popular South Huron Public Library.

And so you have two quite different but two worthwhile viewing presentations to enjoy this holiday season.    All of us at the music festival hope you will enjoy these on-screen features while you enjoy a relaxing, happy holiday season.

Thank you for your readership and your support during 2023.   Soon I look forward to telling you about the interesting focus and programming which we’re preparing for June 1-22, 2024.

Till we’re together again…remember that Music Connects Us.


John A. Miller, Artistic Director