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Audiences viewing Steven Spielberg’s new “West Side Story” will see many dissimilarities from the 1961 version, which includes a young cast, revised screenplay and new choreography. What has not altered is the tunes by Leonard Bernstein, the consequence of 4 higher-profile specialists who teamed up to record the score anew.
Oscar-nominated composer David Newman oversaw all of the preparations and orchestrations Tony-successful songwriter Jeanine Tesori supervised all of the vocal performances Grammy-nominated producer Matt Sullivan was on set through, supervising the tunes all through shooting and planet-renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel executed the Bernstein rating with both equally the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The involvement of Dudamel and Newman were being legendary composer John Williams’ idea. Williams, who has been Spielberg’s musical husband or wife for 47 several years, recalls Spielberg at first asking him to be songs director on the movie, “and I mentioned, ‘you should get Gustavo to perform the rating. He’s performed it at the Hollywood Bowl with this sort of idiomatic flair and know-how and swagger.’”
Williams also reminded Spielberg that David Newman “knows ‘West Facet Story’ much better than any person — he’s carried out it all more than the planet,” referring to Newman getting performed the 1961 movie live-to-picture almost 50 moments with orchestras in the U.S. and Europe. “David doesn’t have to review it he knows it already,” Williams instructed the director. Spielberg right away brought Dudamel and Newman on board again in 2018.
“The music of ‘West Facet Story’ is timeless,” suggests Newman. The ‘Symphonic Dances From West Aspect Story’ is in the canon of classical music. Our career was not to re-set up, not to re-orchestrate. The songs was sacrosanct. Our mandate was to current ‘West Side Story’ as Bernstein’s eyesight, in its very best feasible light-weight.
Newman likens this to a new staging of a typical opera. “There are loads of various opera productions like ‘Aida’ or ‘Madame Butterfly,’” Newman provides, “but it is often the identical new music. I appreciate the ’61 film, but Steven managed to make this into a motion picture for our day and age devoid of staying cynical.”
There are 3 versions of “West Facet Story”: the authentic 1957 Broadway rating, orchestrated by Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal, performed by 27 musicians the 1961 edition, conducted by Johnny Eco-friendly with a 120-piece Hollywood orchestra, which Bernstein reportedly disliked and the “Symphonic Dances From West Side Tale,” Bernstein’s 23-minute condensation of themes for symphony orchestra.
“This is based a lot more on the Broadway exhibit,” Newman points out. Some alterations were inescapable: Newman wrote a new arrangement of “Somewhere” for Rita Moreno to sing (the Broadway edition was sung by a Shark girl in the ’61 film, Tony and Maria sang it), and he wrote the underscore, based primarily on incidental new music from the original Broadway exhibit.
Govt new music producer Sullivan (whose credits involve “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and the stay-action “Aladdin”) remembers conversing with Spielberg at length “about all the things from tempi to orchestration and arrangement and how he was heading to shoot it… likely music by music, with Steven participating in the tunes on his iPad, starting up and halting and speaking about it.”
Of all the initial authors of “West Side Story” – Bernstein, writer Arthur Laurents, choreographer Jerome Robbins and lyricist Stephen Sondheim – only Sondheim was nevertheless alive when creation commenced in 2019. (He died Nov. 26.) “We have been so fortunate that he was with us, and we brought him in early,” claims Sullivan.
“We called them the SS’s, SS one particular and SS two — Mr. Spielberg will say he was SS two. But he [Sondheim] was all over all the time, came to our rehearsals, viewed the choreography, listened to the actors singing the tracks. There ended up some lyric variations [notably in “America”] and vocal assignments. Each and every observe he gave to us was precious, and we constantly needed to deal with all his notes.”
Dudamel also understood “West Facet Story” intimately. Not only did he acquire raves for his semi-staged general performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 2016, but his large-energy model of the score’s well-known “Mambo” with the Simon Bolivar youth orchestra in his indigenous Venezuela went viral yrs just before he turned music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Bernstein was songs director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, so that orchestra was the clear decision for the new recording. “Some of my happiest moments on the film had been sitting about 8 ft at the rear of Gustavo at the Manhattan Centre, where we recorded,” Sullivan claims. “He didn’t talk to the orchestra in specialized musical terms – he talked about fireplace and spice and bringing passion to the audio. This is audio the New York Phil has performed numerous times, and I imagine this is the very best they’ve at any time played it.”
Broadway veteran Tesori (“Caroline or Adjust,” “Fun Residence,” “Thoroughly Present day Millie”) served as supervising vocal producer. “She was in cost of all the vocals,” Sullivan describes. “Steven handed us a solid in which each and every solitary person was 95 percent there. Jeanine took them from 95 to 110 %, and introduced out these wonderful solo, duet and general ensemble performances.”
“We pre-recorded all the vocals, but we did a lot of reside singing on the set,” Sullivan factors out. “The actors are always mic’d, regardless if we’re performing a playback or live singing. Consequently if there is a alter in what they do, I usually have a recording of what they truly did on established. The balcony scene, the duet among Tony and Maria, was all done stay. Rita Moreno singing ‘Somewhere,’ that was all live. Ariana DeBose and Rachel Zegler performing ‘A Boy Like That’ and ‘I Have a Love’ stay, when you look at that enthusiasm and power, belting at just about every other, it is all real, all going on are living on the established.”
Spielberg even located home for instrumental times from the initial rating that didn’t make it into the 1961 film. Newman cites “the scene following ‘Tonight,’ where Maria’s lying on the bed, that minimal scherzo, a charming piece that’s in the ballet in the original Broadway demonstrate. The Bernstein estate and I definitely preferred that tunes [in the new film], so Steven designed a scene as she’s waking up and trying to make it search like she slept there. We had been incredibly satisfied about that.”
The New York Philharmonic recorded somewhere around 80 percent of the rating, Newman estimates. When the COVID lockdown transpired in March 2020, the recording shifted to Los Angeles, in which Dudamel done the L.A. Phil in the remaining 20 percent or so of the songs all through put up-output.
“I am supremely proud of this, the way it turned out,” claims Newman, “the electrical power, the phrasing, the way it works drastically in the movie, all gorgeously performed and recorded.”
“No matter wherever you are in time, somewhere in the entire world, there are normally Jets and Sharks,” states Sullivan. “It’s a tale that transcends generations. Steven needed to go back again to the primary Broadway display and make his interpretation of this story. ‘West Facet Story’ is 64 several years old now, but this provides it a new breath, new life. I simply cannot wait for persons the exact same age as our actors, 16 to 25 yrs previous, to explore this audio.”