Leonard Bernstein says he would trade his considerable conducting and composing talents for a good voice.

"If I could get up on the stage and sing one phrase of Verdi or Bizet or Wagner so that people would be moved, I would give up everything for that," the nation's best-known composer said Wednesday in Lenox, Mass."I can sing, but I empty rooms," he confessed.

The composer of "West Side Story" and "Candide" held a rare news conference at the Tanglewood Music Center to talk about the four-day extravaganza planned there next week in honor of his 70th birthday.

Among those at the celebration that starts on his birthday, Aug. 25, will be such friends as actress Lauren Bacall, diva Beverly Sills and record producer Quincy Jones. Actress Elizabeth Taylor and publisher Malcolm Forbes are planning to arrive in a hot-air balloon, Tanglewood officials said.