Cheyenne Jackson, Alexandra Silber and More Star in San Francisco Symphony's New Live Recording of WEST SIDE STORY; Set for Digital Release Today
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.