Tabor to host ?West Side Story? presentation

Tabor College will host a prestigious series of lectures titled ?The Creation of West Side Story? at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the college chapel.

The presentation is part of the 2011-12 Kansas Partnership for the Arts, a series featuring numerous performances by renowned faculty, students and international guest artists.

Bringing the presentation to Tabor is the University of Kansas School of Music and Reach Out Kansas Inc.

This program includes a series of lectures with performances by KU?s own Paul Laird and music students that take place throughout the state of Kansas.

?The collaborative, creative act of writing a piece of musical theater is often a mystery to members of the audience,? said Laird, professor of musicology. ?Our presentations will consider such matters for ?West Side Story? (1957), one of the most important shows in the history of the American musical theater.?

Laird has published extensively on Bernstein and his shows, including two books and several articles. Laird also has taught courses on Broadway musicals for KU Continuing Education.

He will begin ?The Creation of West Side Story? with a 25-minute lecture on how the creators decided their modern version of Romeo and Juliet would be set in Manhattan amid gang violence between white and Puerto Rican gangs; how dance became a crucial part of the story-telling; Bernstein?s use of various types of Latin American music in his score; and detailed looks at the creation of some of the scenes or songs.

The remainder of the program will include performances of songs from ?West Side Story? by soprano Ashley Benes, tenor Joseph Carr and pianist Stanton Nelson, all students at the University of Kansas School of Music.

Professor Julia Broxholm, associate professor of voice at KU, is coaching the ensemble.

Laird will briefly place each song in context of the show?s creation and plot, then some excerpts of earlier versions of the songs will be presented.

Selections will include ?Something?s Coming,? ?Maria,? ?Tonight,? ?One Hand, One Heart,? ?I Feel Pretty,? ?Somewhere,? ?I Have a Love? and others.

Laird said, ?To help show how West Side Story fits into the remainder of Bernstein?s output, we will include an excerpt from a deleted portion of the ?Prologue? that became part of Chichester Psalms (1965), showing how Bernstein added Hebrew text from Psalm 2 to this music.

?The presentation will allow the audience a glimpse inside the artist?s workshop, illuminating the creative process and its non-linear, intuitive nature.?

The Kansas Partnership for the Arts is sponsored by: Reach Out Kansas Inc.; Smithyman & Zakoura, Chartered, of Overland Park; and The Zakoura Family Fund.

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