West Side Story

Paul de Hueck, courtesy the Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.

The centennial anniversary of Leonard Bernstein is coming up on August 25, 2018, and for the next two years there will be tributes galore—in Philadelphia and throughout the world. WRTI will remember this American icon with special programming, features, and more. Orchestras and museums will commemorate Bernstein with over 1000 events on six continents.

It’s a world with a language of its own. The Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall is being converted into a movie palace—with all of the broad audience appeal implied—but with key differences.

Those funky, menacing chords can only belong to one piece of music: West Side Story, the Leonard Bernstein Broadway musical that updated the Romeo and Juliet story into the world of gang warfare to the streets of post-war New York City. The concert suite from the musical has often been played by The Philadelphia Orchestra, though this week it's performing the music in a different incarnation - as an accompaniment to the 1961 Oscar-winning film. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports that the enterprise isn’t nearly as simple as it looks.