National Philharmonic’s Color the Music Project, Fall 2018

An overture is a musical composition played by the orchestra as the introduction to an opera or musical play. Merriam-Webster defines an overture as a musical composition that alludes musi-cally to the drama that follows. The music sets the stage and the mood for what is to come in the production.

American composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) included musical overtures for many of his famous dramatic works. Our fall Color the Music Project focuses on two of his most famous staged compositions: the operetta “Candide” and the Broadway hit musical “West Side Story”. During our November 17th concert, the National Philharmonic Chorale will sing excerpts from these two works. The overtures you hear as part of our Color the Music Project use the full range of orchestral instruments to summarize the important scenes of the overall story.


Listen to one or both overtures:

Candide Overture: (conducted by Leonard Bernstein)

West Side Story Overture (from the original soundtrack conducted by Johnny Green)


Choose one of the overtures to create an artwork depicting the “drama” you hear in the overture as it musically sets the stage for the story that will follow.

  1. Listen to the music for your chosen overture several times. Let the music inspire your design:
  • Is the sound loud and bold or soft and gentle?
  • Happy?
  • Reflective?
  • Sad?
  • Quick or slow?
  • Smooth?
  • Staccato (detached)?
  • What might be the setting for the story?
  • Based on the instruments, rhythms, and melodies you hear, who might be the main characters in the work you have chosen to depict?
  • Does the music of the overture stay the same or does it change?
  • What might be the mood of the story and how can you reflect that in your art?
  • When you close your eyes and listen, do you think of particular colors?
  • How can your art reflect your answers to these questions?


  • You may use any 2-D medium — crayon, colored pencils, water colors, oils, pastels, etc. Pencil line drawings are not encouraged for this project.
  • Art should be on white paper and may be backed with black paper for display. The recommended paper size is 9”x12” (with an additional 1” black border if you are backing it). Because of space available for mounting our art shows, art greater than the recommended size will be accepted only after consultation.
  • Accepted artwork will be displayed in the Strathmore concert lobby the weekend of November 17, 2018 during the National Philharmonic Chorale’s concert which will include their performance of the choral parts of Bernstein’s Mass, Candide, and West Side

DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ARTWORK FOR THIS CONCERT IS FRIDAY, November 9, 2018 at 4 PM in the National Philharmonic’s Office located on the second floor of Strathmore.

For questions, contact:
   Isabel Carpio at isabel@nationalphilharmonic.org
   Sara Josey at altosara@gmail.com

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