Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Music Director Marin Alsop leads the BSO in a performance of the film score from Bernstein's legendary West Side Story on Thursday, June 13 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 16 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Bernstein's brilliant score will accompany a screening of the 10-time Academy Award-winning motion picture. Please see below for complete program details.
Leonard Bernstein served as an educator, activist, conductor and composer of renowned theater and orchestral works. Yet Bernstein is best-known for West Side Story, his hard-hitting, landmark musical that redefined the rules of theater. West Side Story was the product of a masterful collaboration between Bernstein and writer Arthur Laurents, director and choreographer Jerome Robbins and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
Since it was first staged in 1957, the much-loved and thrilling West Side Story has seen some 40,000 productions worldwide, has been translated into languages as diverse as Korean and Czech, and has been arranged in a variety of styles from jazz to punk rock. The everlasting appeal of West Side Story is no doubt due to the show's enthralling music, groundbreaking dance routines and enduring storyline.
After all, West Side Story was crafted as an urban, modern day Romeo and Juliet, which employed Shakespeare's timeless themes of young love, passion and tragedy, but gave them new life in the context of rivaling gangs in New York City. Similarly, West Side Story's narrative on Puerto Rican immigrants, gang warfare and teenage angst were hot topics in the newspapers during the 1950s, yet continue to be persistently relevant and meaningful for audiences today.
The immortal quality of West Side Story was further solidified by its incredibly triumphant transition into film. In 1961, the motion picture premiered with great success as the second-highest-grossing movie of that year. For the film, while many of the original stage actors were replaced and Bernstein's music was newly arranged, the power, excitement and anguish of the emotionally charged score, choreography and story comes through with resounding force on the silver screen.