Bearing Witness

The Academy’s Annual Leonard Bernstein Celebration
Join Academy for the Love of Learning Founder and President Aaron Stern in a celebratory dinner and facilitated reflective dialogue centered around the three movements of Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony.

Event Details

Date: Sunday, August 25th
Time: 6:00 PM- 9:30 PM
Location: Seton Castle
Notes: Ticket prices vary according to seating selection. Please list any accessibility requirements and/or dietary restrictions in note section of ticket checkout.

About Bearing Witness 

This evening will find us exploring the powerful human capacity to Bear Witness by experiencing, reflecting upon and finding shared meaning in Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1: JeremiahBased on the Old Testament story of the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah includes three movements – 1. Prophecy (warning), 2. Profanation (destruction), and 3. Lamentation (mourning). These movements will serve as inquiry points into Bernstein’s question “Don’t We Never Learn?!” and Stern’s answer – that “As human beings, we have the capacity to transform both individually and collectively.” After experiencing the symphony, we will discuss in small groups, over a beautiful meal, how, together, we can “learn ourselves” into a better world and activate the transformational capacities that lead to healing and change.

“I’ve chosen Jeremiah because it is at once a universal theme and quite personal to our present world. It reveals, in deeply stirring ways, both our tendencies toward human destructiveness – and our remarkable capacity to see and recognize them. It invites us to Bear Witness as a portal to awakening more fully to what we see in ourselves and our world in hopes that we can be moved to wake up further to these tendencies and take action.” – Aaron Stern

Gathering together as a community, with both strangers and friends, we will bear witness to one of Bernstein’s earliest masterpieces. Dinner will be provided by Dig & Serve. An historic performance of the symphony by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Bernstein, will be presented via video projection at the Seton Castle.

After the film, we will have an opportunity to exchange thoughts and reflections with a facilitated dialogue. As Stern says, “Where Lenny and I joined most deeply was in our shared understanding that the power of music goes well beyond the music itself. Music can wake us up and activate deep learning. Witnessing a performance without then splitting into small groups at small tables, discussing and expressing impact – sharing deeply felt aspirations and strengthening and inspiring the will to act –in other words — moving off the stage and into life – would be unthinkable at the Academy! Lenny’s 1st Symphony – his Jeremiah – is a perfect and timely vehicle for this.”

We will close the evening with a powerful re-iteration of the third movement, “Lamentations,” performed live by Apprentice Artist Katherine DeYoung from the Santa Fe Opera.

The design of this evening draws from The Academy’s Creative Action Team work – CAT – a team of seasoned creative practitioners who design and facilitate joyful participatory processes and creative engagements around critical topics. Developed by Academy Faculty and led by Aaron Stern, CAT explores, practices and develops participatory poetic forms that unearth the stories we live by and render a given group’s poetic imagination and aspiration.

2018 marked both the Academy for the Love of Learning’s 20th anniversary and the centennial of the birth of the 20th-century musical giant Leonard Bernstein. On what would have been Bernstein’s 101st birthday in 2019 we close an arc of reflection and celebrate the emergence of a next phase of the Academy’s work.

The Academy shares a deep history with Leonard Bernstein, and ultimately was birthed from an intense collaboration between Bernstein and Academy Founder and President Aaron Stern during the final decade of Bernstein’s life. Stern, then Dean of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, had a profound discovery about learning while observing how music students learned music. From that discovery, Stern recognized that a restoration of the human capacity to learn was essential not only to the revitalization of music, but all of education and more generally western culture itself. From this, Stern began to develop a body of work, pedagogy and learning methodologies that are now at the center of the Academy for the Love of Learning.

Concert Livestream

  • Bearing Witness will be recorded and broadcast live through Livestream. For those of you that will not be able to join us in-person, a live viewing of the concert will be available here.

Ticket and Seating Information

  • All tickets include appetizers, a shared meal, desert and coffee, and beverages.
  • Ticket prices vary according to seating selection. As this event is designed to invite the spirit of community conversation, seating will be randomly assigned unless otherwise requested. Please note if you would like to be seated with a specific person(s) at your table in note section of ticket checkout.
  • For all tickets seating options are either a low table with floor cushions or a picnic table with six regular chairs. Please also list any seating and accessibility requirements and/or dietary restrictions in note section of ticket checkout.

Ticket Questions at Checkout

  • Accessibility requirements: Accessibility specific seating and parking is available. Please list any accessibility requirements in the note section of ticket checkout.
  • Dietary restrictions: Please list any dietary restrictions in the note section of ticket checkout.

Ticket and Seating Options
Seating arrangements and experiences are curated by Dig & Serve.

Scholarship Tickets

Scholarships are limited and offered to participants ages 18-28. Scholarship applications can be found here. Submit questions and completed applications to Laura Pancoast.

Low Table Seating
Low table seating includes a shared savory summer meal and beverages. Examples of seating arrangement below:

 Picnic Table Seating
Picnic table includes a shared savory summer meal and beverages. Examples of seating arrangement below:


Seton Castle

Request more information

To learn more about Bearing Witness use the form below to contact The Academy.