Heartland showcasing Bernstein “West Side Story” themes

By BILL KNIGHT

Six decades after the Broadway production of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” the Heartland Festival Orchestra this month pays musical homage to the work and to Bernstein with a musical program titled “Class Rumble” featuring accomplished timpani drum soloist David Collier. The evening includes three works. Heartland artistic director and conductor David Commanday will lead the orchestra in Sergey Prokofiev’s 1937 “Romeo & Juliet Suite,” a “Raise the Roof” timpani concerto by Michael Daugherty from 2003, and Bernstein’s 1961 “West Side Story Symphonic Dances.”

Bernstein’s familiar modernization of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” set on New York City’s West Side, focuses on two lovers caught in the middle of violent tension between two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. Besides the book by Arthur Laurents, Bernstein’s music dovetailed nicely with Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, resulting in memorable numbers such as “America,” “Maria” and Tonight.”

Collier, an Illinois State University professor, is a renowned musician who’s performed with Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and Henry Mancini and is a principal with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Peoria Symphony Orchestra as well as Heartland.

The Oct. 14 performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Five Points Washington.

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