Bernstein's 'Mass' the centerpiece of College of Arts & Architecture anniversary

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The stars are aligning at Penn State. That’s what the team of faculty members organizing the collaborative production of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" say must be happening to mount the massive undertaking. "Mass" — a theater piece for singers, players and dancers that’s a collaborative venture among Penn State’s School of Music, School of Theatre and Center for the Performing Arts — comes to Eisenhower Auditorium for performances at 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 2 p.m. April 6.

A journey of faith and what that means to people, "Mass" is sometimes humorous, occasionally bawdy and at times profoundly moving. Bernstein’s masterpiece, based on the Roman Catholic liturgy, includes passages sung in Latin with additional texts in English by Bernstein, Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz and pop songwriter Paul Simon. The work, scored for orchestra, marching and rock bands, actors and dancers also features rock, blues, Broadway and classical music.

Tickets for Mass are $37 for an adult, $10 for a University Park student and $18 for a person 18 and younger. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 814-863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays when Penn State classes are in session) and Bryce Jordan Center (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

The price of each adult ticket to "Mass" includes a $5 donation to the College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Society Scholarship Endowment.

“This piece requires everybody — all elements need to be happily at the table with one another,” said Ted Christopher, assistant professor of music at Penn State and director of "Mass." “We’re all honored the dean (Barbara O. Korner) selected this performance as the capstone event of the 50th anniversary of the College of Arts and Architecture. It really speaks to the nature of this kind of work we’re all called to do as artists, which is to work together and be collaborative.”

The production includes Penn State’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Concert Choir, Essence of Joy, singers and dancers from the schools of Music and Theatre and a community children’s choir.

Jim Hogan, a bachelor of fine arts major in the School of Theatre, plays the Celebrant, an integral role in "Mass." Hogan was a cast member in the 2011 Center for the Performing Arts presentation of the touring Broadway musical "Spring Awakening."

Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, "Mass" debuted at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 1971.

To learn more about the college’s 50th anniversary celebration, go to

The "Mass" logo for media use is available at Production photos are not available at this time. Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook at

A media photo shoot and interview is set for 7:30 p.m. March 26, in the Playhouse Theatre.

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Last Updated April 29, 2013