“It is the world’s artists, feelers and thinkers who will ultimately save us; who can articulate, educate, challenge, insist, sing and shout the big dreams,” said maestro Leonard Bernstein. The music he wrote for “West Side Story,” a musical that tells a tragic love story and focuses on social issues, is perhaps his best-known composition.
New Philharmonic, the only professional orchestra based in DuPage County, will share the sounds of this beautiful musical with its audience and conclude its 2021-2022 season with “West Side Story in Concert”.
This concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 10 at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.
This unforgettable program will feature guest artists, soprano Brooklyn Snow, tenor Matthew Greenblatt, mezzo-soprano Kate Tombaugh and baritone Evan Bravos, as well as an eight-singer choir. Along with the musicians of the New Philharmonic, the soloists will present the most beloved songs and music from this famous Tony and Oscar-winning musical. Michael Weber, Artistic Director of Porchlight Music Theatre, will host a free discussion after each performance. Bjarne R. Ullsvik is the main sponsor of these performances of “West Side Story in Concert”.
“There is nothing that can lift our spirits more than discovering our favorite songs from one of our favorite romantic musicals performed by extraordinary artists,” said Maestro Muspratt. “Our performance of ‘West Side Story in Concert’ has it all, and whether you’re a fan of the musical or one of the films, I know you’ll find this concert to be something you’ll talk about long after the la last note soared to the heavens.”
The original Broadway production took place in 1957. Besides Bernstein’s unforgettable music, this musical is also popular thanks to the talent of Jerome Robbins and the unforgettable lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, while being based on a book by Arthur Laurents.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the musical is set in the mid-1950s in a multiracial, working-class New York neighborhood. It tells the story of two warring gangs – the Jets led by Riff and the Puerto Rican Sharks led by Bernardo. At a ball, a former Jet, Tony, meets Bernardo’s younger sister, Maria, and they immediately fall in love. They start meeting in secret dreaming of running away. When the Sharks and Jets plan a rumble, Maria sends Tony to stop her hoping he can end the violence. In the middle of the fight, Bernardo kills Riff. Furious at the murder of his best friend, Tony picks up Riff’s blade and kills Bernardo. At the end, Chino, who is another shark, shoots Tony, who dies in Maria’s arms. Maria takes Chino’s gun and blames everyone for those three deaths. However, this tragedy ends the long-running feud between the gangs.
Certainly, a concert based on a musical with such a complicated story requires very talented singers to perform the roles of the main characters. Fortunately, the selected guest artists fill these roles perfectly, and the New Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Muspratt will endeavor to underline the brilliance of their voices by providing them with a magnificent orchestral accompaniment.
The role of Maria will be interpreted by Brooklyn Snow, soprano, originally from Beaverton, Oregon. Snow is a rising international artist with extensive performance experience in Europe, Asia and the United States. She discovered her love for music while living with her family in Hong Kong as a young girl, where she joined a choir, and later in Amsterdam, where she began formal singing lessons at the 10 years old. Snow’s exposure to multiple cultures, ideologies, and languages helps her express the feelings of the characters she plays, and in this case it helps her sing Maria’s tunes and her duets with others. soloists. On top of that, her beautiful, full and extremely colorful voice and her passionate artistic expression help her demonstrate the full spectrum of Maria’s personality. Snow received her Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University and her Bachelor of Music from the University of Oregon in 2013. She is a finalist in Eugene Opera’s Diva Cage Match competition.
The role of Tony will be performed by tenor Matthew Greenblatt, originally from Port Washington, NY. His emotional presentation and captivating voice will help him find the best way to interpret Tony’s tunes and his duets with other soloists. Being husband and wife, Greenblatt and Snow will be able to show the full spectrum of emotions between these two young characters. Greenblatt was recently a Chrisman Studio artist with Opera Santa Barbara. He sang the role of Gastone in “La Traviata” and studied the three main tenor roles in “La Traviata”, “Little Women” and “La fille du régiment”. In the summer of 2021, he reprized the role of Nemorino in “L’elisir d’amore” with the Southern Illinois Music Festival and performed as a tenor soloist in an outdoor concert series with the New Philharmonic . Honors include finalist in the New York International Vocal Competition and semi-finalist in the Opera Index Competition. Greenblatt received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan and her Master of Music from Mannes.
The role of Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, will be interpreted by Kate Tombaugh, mezzo-soprano. Her majestic voice will certainly impress the audience. Last season, she won first place in the Mildred C. Miller International Competition, organized by the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, with an all-mezzo edition. Last February, she made her debut as a featured soloist in John Corigliano’s “Fern Hill” with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Tombaugh trained as a young artist in the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Artist Program, as Artist Gerdine at the Opera Theater in St. Louis, and as Artist-in-Residence at the Utah Opera. Additionally, she was a Stern Fellow with the Los Angeles-based Songfest and performed at the AIMS Opera Studio in Graz, Austria. Tombaugh holds a master’s degree in music, opera/voice from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a dual undergraduate degree in English literature and vocal performance from Illinois Wesleyan University. She is the founder and executive director of the non-profit arts organization Poco a Poco.
The role of Riff will be performed by Evan Bravos, baritone. Her energetic voice, excellent vocal technique and brilliant artistic presentation will help her find the best way to present this character. Bravos made his professional debut at the Ravinia Festival in the summer of 2019 as Maximilian in Bernstein’s “Candide”. During the 2020-21 season, he performed in two world premieres: creating the role of Clay in Matthew Reccio/Royce Vavrek’s “The Puppy Episode” with the Chicago Opera Theater, and as Claudius for “Hamlet”. by Joseph Summer in a co-production between The Shakespeare Concerts of Boston and the Ruse Bulgarian State Opera. Commitments for the 2021-22 season include Le Dancaïre in “Carmen” (Chicago Opera Theatre), Handel’s “Messiah” (Santa Fe Symphony) and Hannah in Laura Kaminsky’s “As One” (Opera Santa Barbara). Bravos studied at Lawrence University Conservatory (B.Mus) and Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University (M.Sc).
With these great singers, the New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt will celebrate the beauty of this masterpiece created by Bernstein and Sondheim. “West Side Story in Concert” will highlight the best parts of this musical while introducing the public to the depth of this composition. The message of this musical is deep and dramatic, and it teaches us a lot.
“Now I can kill too, because now I have hatred,” Maria says at the end of the musical, while taking Chino’s gun. However, she is unable to bring herself to fire the gun and drops it crying in grief. Here is a big lesson for all of humanity, which is especially important these days – don’t let hate overwhelm you and create even more hate. That violence and hatred only exist on stage, and that music makes them possible. Let music create peace and beauty, and let it stay that way forever.
For tickets and more information, visit www.atthemac.org/events/west-side-story/ or call (630) 942-4000. Tickets are $59, $57 for seniors. A limited number of $10 tickets are available for students with valid ID. The ticket office is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and one hour before the performance. The McAninch Arts Center is located at 425 Fawell Blvd. on the DuPage College campus.