As part of the Leonard Bernstein centennial celebrations worldwide, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the composer’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, under guest conductor Rafael Payare, making his subscription-concert debut, on Jan. 18. This video clip features the Mambo portion of the orchestral suite, which even calls for the musicians to vocalize a bit. Give a listen as the music depicts the gym scene from West Side Story where the Jets and the Sharks meet while trying to suppress their hostility toward each other.
In his review, Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein hailed the performance: “His lanky body seemingly wired for sound, Payare could have been channeling Lenny himself as he danced, swayed, hopped and lunged his way through this lush amalgam of tunes from the composer-conductor’s greatest hit. Nothing was held back, nothing underplayed.”
The concert, which also features Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto (with Keith Buncke, principal bassoon, in his solo debut), and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, repeats Jan. 20. To learn more about the Bernstein centennial, click here.