Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

arranged by Jack Mason

West Side Story Selections (1957)

Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story was premièred in 1957. It is a version of the Romeo and Juilet story set in the New York of the 1950s among the slum areas of the upper west side. These have now been cleared and have made way for the glittering Lincoln centre for the arts. The warring Montagues and Capulets are replaced by two teenage gangs - the Caucasian Jets and the Latin American Sharks. The libretto by Arthur Laurents focuses strongly on major social problems of the post war period, marking a considerable departure from earlier musicals. The song lyrics were the first major success for Stephen Sondheim, who went on to write many musicals of his own. The original 1957 Broadway production, proved very popular running for 732 performances. The subsequent London production was even more successful, and the famous film appeared in 1961. Bernstein's score if filled with vibrant colour and many of the songs have become enduring classics.

West Side Story Selections was performed by the Portobello Orchestra on the 12th July 2014, conducted by William Church.