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Exclusive: First photos from Bernstein movie ‘Maestro’ in Ely

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It was back to the 1970s for Ely – if only for three days – as part of the city was transformed for a new Netflix movie ‘Maestro’.

‘Maestro’ is an upcoming biographical film based on the life of Leonard Bernstein.

The film has been some years in the making and has an impressive CV with Bradley Cooper, who co-wrote the screenplay, starring as Bernstein.

And with an array of producers that include Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, it promises to be one of the biggest films of 2023 when it is released.

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Pictured Bradley Cooper directs the action from the backseat of a Mercedes taking Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) to the 1973 Concert. Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Saturday 22 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

Ely Cathedral is central to the film as it was where in 1973 Bernstein brought the London Symphony Orchestra for a memorable performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony.

In 2018, on the eve of Bernstein’s 100th birthday, a film of the 1973 concert was screened in the cathedral watched by three of the players in the orchestra that night: Bob Bourton, Roger Birnstingl and Frances Saunders.

Pictured Bradley Cooper directs the action from the backseat of a Mercedes taking Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) to the 1973 Concert. Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the Life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Saturday 22 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

Sir Clive Gillinson, formerly of the London Symphony Orchestra, and whose early music career saw him play regularly at the cathedral, said: “Leonard Bernstein’s 1973 performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony at Ely Cathedral remains one of the most vivid memories of my entire life.”

Back in 1973, Bernstein first took the LSO to the Edinburgh Festival before he brought the entire orchestra to Ely Cathedral for a filmed recording.

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One report recalls how the choir all came down by train and although rehearsals were cut short by a bomb scare, the venue and filming were perfect.

“The cathedral itself, with its octagonal tower and dark recesses was just as much a part of the performance as the orchestra,” was how one reviewer described it.

Pictured Bradley Cooper directs the action from the backseat of a Mercedes taking Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) to the 1973 Concert. Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the Life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Saturday 22 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

“This was the LSO at the top of its form, and Bernstein performing a piece he loved by a composer he adored and felt an affinity with.”

Sir Clive said: “The most compelling thing about Bernstein as a conductor, which was so clear to me as a player, but also in later years as the orchestra’s manager, was the sense of discovering a piece of music as if it was being composed at the very moment that you were playing or hearing it.

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“His insights and endless creativity were something that only a great composer could have brought to the music he conducted, and he had an uncanny gift of engaging everybody in the music as if you were hearing it for the very first time.”

Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the Life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Wednesday 19 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

King’s Ely was among those delighted with the filming of Maestro in the city.

“It’s not every day that you get to see Hollywood movies being made just a stone’s throw away from your school, but having said that, it is becoming more and more frequent here at King’s,” said a King’s spokesperson.

Lizelle Goosen, Teacher of Girls’ Games and Food Technology at King’s Ely Senior, having her photograph taken with Bradley Cooper outside Ely Cathedral

“With confirmation that BAFTA and Grammy Award-winning Bradley Cooper was directing the film – and starring as Bernstein – our students, staff and parents (don’t deny it!), were celebrity spotting at every opportunity.”

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King’s Ely said their head of film studies, Jonathan Smith, and his A-Level students had an amazing half term treat when they were given the opportunity to meet the production’s location supervisor.

The students were given a ‘behind-the-scenes’ but ‘at-a-distance’ glimpse of some of the action “including the incredible costume and hair and make-up facilities.

Two of Maestro’s producers took a break from filming inside the Cathedral to meet Mr Smith of King’s Ely, the film studies group, and Principal, John Attwater

“The icing on the cake was when two of Maestro’s producers took a break from filming inside the cathedral to come and meet Mr Smith, our film studies group, and our principal, John Attwater.

“The students were able to fire questions at the Los Angeles-based female producers, who were also happy to have their photo taken with them.”

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Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the Life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Saturday 22 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

Inside and around the cathedral was where most of the filming took place, however there was also plenty of action in Barton Road, Barton Square and Silver Street area, where street signs were ‘aged’ and classic cars parked in residents’ driveways to set the scene.

Hollywood films Maestro. A film detailing the Life of Leonard Bernstein. From the 1973 Leonard Bernstein’s Concert the Film of Mahler’s Second Symphony gets a cinematic screening at Ely Cathedral. Starring Bradley Cooper., Cathedral, Ely Friday 21 October 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

Previous filming in Ely has included ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, ‘The Crown’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Jupiter Ascending’ and ‘The King’s Speech’.

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