Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) release a new live recording of the first-ever concert performances of Leonard Bernstein's complete score for the musical West Side Story featuring a stellar Broadway cast including Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, on June 10, 2014.
This collector's edition two-disc set available from the SFS Media label includes a 100-page booklet featuring a new interview with MTT, notes from Rita Moreno and Jamie Bernstein, as well as a West Side Story historical timeline, archival photographs, complete lyrics, and rehearsal and performance photos.
Beginning today, May 20, West Side Story will be available for an exclusive early download from iTunes.com/SFSymphony where it is now available for pre-order. The iTunes release is Mastered for iTunes and offered as an interactive iTunes LP with bonus visuals and content provided when viewed in iTunes. The recording can also be pre-ordered on disc from the San Francisco Symphony's online store for delivery by the release date of June 10. This audiophile SACD recording, playable on both standard CD and SACD devices.
The performances were recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in late June and early July 2013 after Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony became the first orchestra to receive permission from all four West Side Story rights-holders to perform and record the musical score in its entirety in a concert setting. Of the new recording, Michael Tilson Thomas said, "This is a new and rare opportunity to hear Bernstein's complete score sung by a sensational young cast and a knock-your-socks-off orchestra. The San Francisco Symphony totally understands and feels this music. We show the Broadway roots of the piece and how its universal qualities translate into the way we think about it today."
Making his San Francisco Symphony debut in West Side Story is Cheyenne Jackson (TV's Glee, 30 Rock) singing the role of Tony. Of performing the role with MTT and the SFS Jackson says, "I think this is the best musical of all time. Period. I'm a Broadway Baby, and I've done many, many shows. And there are a couple that come close, but when it comes to book, music, lyrics, West Side Story is absolutely timeless. Everybody knows every word. This isn't a polarizing musical or something people have lukewarm feelings about, you just love West Side Story. Even after knowing the score all these years, I'm still uncovering things about the score I never heard before. So, to have the opportunity to perform it, under the great Michael Tilson Thomas, and also with this Symphony, how could I not?! " The cast includes a host of exciting Broadway voices all making their San Francisco Symphony debuts including Alexandra Silber in the role of Maria, Jessica Vosk as Anita, Kevin Vortmann as Riff and Julia Bullock as A Girl. The recording also features members of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus as Jets and Sharks.
Of the performances, Jamie Bernstein said, "Michael really understands my father's music - how to conduct it and how to bring it to life. It was such a treat to hear the entire score of West Side Story performed by the San Francisco Symphony on a stage. It is the greatest way to hear this music."
Tilson Thomas first met Leonard Bernstein several years after the West Side Story premiere in 1957 and has championed the iconic composer/conductor's music throughout his career. Highlights with the SFS include semi-staged performances of On the Town in 1996 and, in 2008, Carnegie Hall's opening night all-Bernstein gala concert which was recorded and is available on DVD from SFS Media.
About West Side Story: In 1957, Leonard Bernstein's collaboration with choreographer Jerome Robbins, writer Arthur Laurents, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim led to one of the most beloved musicals in American theater. Inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in a blue-collar neighborhood in 1950s New York. The story explores the rivalry between two teenage street-gangs, the Sharks from Puerto Rico and a Polish-American working-class group, the Jets. The young protagonist, Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme and sophisticated music reflected the social issues of the time and marked a major turning point in American musical theater. Bernstein's score for the musical includes songs "Something's Coming," "Maria," "America," "Somewhere," "Tonight," "Jet Song," "I Feel Pretty," "A Boy Like That," "I Have a Love," "One Hand, One Heart," "Officer Krupke" and "Cool".
Cheyenne Jackson (Tony) is an actor, singer, and songwriter. In the fall of 2012, he starred on Broadway opposite Henry Winkler, Ari Graynor, and Alicia Silverstone in David West Read's play The Performers. He also appeared in Steven Soderbergh's movie Behind The Candelabra, a Liberace biopic, with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon as well as the NBC TV pilot Mockingbird Lane. On and Off Broadway, Jackson has starred in 8, Finian's Rainbow, Damn Yankees, Xanadu, The Agony & the Agony and many more. On television he can be seen on NBC's 30 Rock portraying series regular Danny Baker, and he portrayed Dustin Goolsby, the new coach of Vocal Adrenaline on the TV series Glee. In concert, he has sold out Carnegie Hall twice, in "The Power of Two" in 2010 with Michael Feinstein followed by his solo debut concert with the New York Pops, in "Music of the Mad Men Era" in 2011. For his current album on Sony/ATV, I'm Blue, Skies, he collaborated with Sia, Stevie Aiello, and Charlotte Sometimes. Jackson returns to the San Francisco Symphony to perform two concerts of favorite music from the movies with the Orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall July 24 and 25.
Alexandra Silber (Maria) graduated from Interlochen Center for the Arts with a Young Artist Award and continued her training at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. She garnered the Faculty Student of the Year award just days before her West End debut as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White. Silber made her feature film debut in Stephen King's 1408, before portraying Hodel in The Sheffield Crucible's 2007 production of Fiddler on the Roof, and its subsequent West End production. She also appeared in Fiddler on the Roof and as Julie Jordan in Carousel at The Savoy Theatre in London's West End, for which she received the TMA Award for Best Performance in a Musical. In 2012 she portrayed Jenny Cavilerri in the North American Premiere of Love Story the Musical at The Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, and in New York starred in a highly-acclaimed performance of Arlington, a new one woman musical, as part of the Inner Voices series. She recently gave her latest one-woman solo concert "The Land Where The Good Songs Go" at Feinstein's at The Nikko in San Francisco, recorded the vintage Edward Thomas musical Six Wives opposite Judy Kaye and Alexander Gemignani, and made her Detroit Symphony Orchestra debut in David Del Tredici's World Premiere of Dum Dee Tweedle. In 1913 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the American Symphony Orchestra, followed by She Loves Me at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with The Orchestra of St. Luke's.
Jessica Vosk (Anita) singer, dancer and actor, she is currently performing on Broadway in Bridges of Madison County. Other recent credits include Man of La Mancha (TUTS) and New York City Center Encores!' productions of Merrily We Roll Along and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She also performed in Roundabout's Death Takes a Holiday and She Loves Me. Vosk has performed with the New York Philharmonic in Stephen Sondheim's Company, and has also had the pleasure of performing in the new musical Kristina by ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson at Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall.
Soprano Julia Bullock (A Girl) who garnered accolades for her performance of "Somewhere" in this production was recently named the first prize winner of the 2014 International Naumberg Vocal Competition. Her 2013-14 season included the title role in Henry Purcell's The Indian Queen, directed by Peter Sellars at the Teatro Real in Madrid and at the Perm Opera and Ballet House in Russia; the title role in Jules Massenet's Cendrillon presented by Juilliard Opera; debut recitals in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York at Merkin Hall, in Washington, DC at the Kennedy Center; with appearances at the the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Marlboro Music Festival. She has performed contemporary works at the Ojai Music Festival, and the MUSIC ALIVE! series, curated by composer Joan Tower and pianist Blair McMillen; collaborated with early music ensembles, including the Clarion Music Society; and explored lesser-known repertoire with the American Symphony Orchestra in their performance of Delage's Quartre Poèmes Hindous. From 2003 to 2005, she participated in the Artists-in-Training program with the Opera Theater of St. Louis, and graduated with the prestigious Marielle Hubner Award. She earned her Bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music, and her Master's degree at Bard College's Graduate Vocal Arts Program, where she was the first recipient of the Mimi Levitt Scholarship, and won Bard College's 2010 Concerto Competition. She currently studies at the Juilliard School with Edith Bers.
Kevin Vortmann (Riff) appeared in the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury. His other New York City theater credits include On the Town, Applause, Face the Music (including the Original Cast Recording), Lost in the Stars, Fiorello!, and the Off-Broadway productions of Death Takes a Holiday and For Lovers Only. He performed at Carnegie Hall, and at the Kennedy Center with the Baltimore Symphony, in performances of Leonard Bernstein's Mass ("Non Credo" soloist), the recording of which received a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. He is the recipient of the Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Award and the Detroit's Oscar Wilde Award. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University.
THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY CHORUS
The 150-member San Francisco Symphony Chorus is prized for its precision, power, and versatility. Led by Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, the Chorus performs more than twenty concerts each season and is comprised of 30 professional and 120 volunteer members. Recordings featuring the SFS Chorus have won a total of eight Grammy awards, including three for Best Choral Performance. They were featured most recently on the SFS Media's recording of Beethoven's Cantata on the Death of Emperor Josef, and also on Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with MTT and the SFS, which won three 2010 Grammys, including the award for Best Choral Performance. Previous Grammys awarded to the SFS Chorus include Best Choral Performance for Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem in 1995, Best Choral Performance for Orff's Carmina burana in 1992, Best Classical Album with the SFS for Mahler's Symphony No. 3 and Kindertotenlieder in 2004, and Best Classical Album for their performance of Perséphone as part of a collection of Stravinsky's music in 2000.
ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY: The San Francisco Symphony, widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the US, celebrated its Centennial season in 2011-12. Led by Michael Tilson Thomas, who begins his 20th season as Music Director in 2014-15, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually, and reaches an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall, through its multifaceted education and community programs, and a global audience through its media initiatives and on national and international tours.
ABOUT SFS MEDIA: SFS Media is the San Francisco Symphony's in-house label, launched in 2001. SFS Media records and releases audio and visual material reflecting the Orchestra and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas' commitment to showcasing music by maverick composers as well as core classical masterworks. The recordings reflect the broad range of programming that has been a hallmark of the MTT/SFS partnership. Recorded live in concert and engineered at Davies Symphony Hall, the audio recordings are released on hybrid SACD and in high-resolution digital formats. SFS Media has garnered eight Grammy awards. SFS Media also produces and releases documentary and live performance videos, including the SFS's national public television series and multimedia project Keeping Score, which included three seasons of television episodes, eight documentaries, and eight concert films designed to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, available on DVD and Blu-ray. Other videos of the San Francisco Symphony available from SFS Media include A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein: Opening Night at Carnegie Hall 2008 and San Francisco Symphony at 100, a documentary about the Symphony's history, which won a Northern California Emmy Award for "Historical/Cultural Program or Special" in 2012.
All SFS Media recordings are available from the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online at sfsymphony.org/store, digitally from http://itunes.com/sfsymphony, and from all major retailers and other digital outlets worldwide. SFS Media recordings are distributed by harmonia mundi in the U.S. and Canada, through Avie Records internationally, and by The Orchard to digital retailers.