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Get to know the music of West Side Story ahead of the two concert performances of Bernstein's American masterpiece this August.


West Side Story is the best score ever written for musical theatre and still sounds ahead of its time.
Stephen Schwartz (composer and lyricist, Wicked)

After our celebrations of his birth centenary last year, we continue to celebrate the music and lasting influence of Leonard Bernstein with two concert performances of West Side Story. Through his hit musicals, Bernstein succeeded in combining classical and contemporary techniques so that his music appealed both to opera and musical theatre audiences alike.

His West Side Story score was a defining moment in musical theatre and this week's playlist takes you through the masterpiece's sensational songs — from ‘America’ and ‘I Feel Pretty’ to ‘Tonight’ and ‘Somewhere’ — all of which still thrill more than 60 years after the work’s premiere.

At the International Festival this year, Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts an augmented Broadway theatre scoring as Bernstein originally intended, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and special guest instrumentalists drawn from the worlds of jazz and musical theatre. A young, hand-picked cast from Scotland and America come together with Puerto Rican-American soprano Sophia Burgos taking the role of Maria and lyric tenor Alek Shrader as Tony.