APO & Bernstein Unwrap The Music Of West Side Story

APO & Bernstein Unwrap The Music Of West Side Story

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) is playing Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story at Auckland Town Hall on Tuesday, October 18, in a show they’ve billed: Unwrap the Music.

Fresh off the back of last year’s film adaptation the APO is exploring Bernstein’s glimmering and impassioned ‘West Side Story – Symphonic Dances’. Conceived on the brink of the civil rights movement in the United States, Bernstein wrote West Side Story in a time of both great change and artistic exploration.

And the music is famously brilliant. To this day West Side Story continues to both break and inspire the hearts of audiences through its visceral nature, the brash and unapologetic texture, and its rhythms both violent and sensual.

The Symphonic Dances are a great modern fusion of ballet, music theatre and 20th-century contemporary music. In the theatre, West Side Story is scored for a 31-piece band, so it’s no surprise that Leonard Bernstein leapt at the chance to rewrite his music for a large symphony orchestra. But why ‘Symphonic Dances’, rather than, say, ‘Suite from West Side Story’, which is basically what it is?


Where most orchestral concerts exist without words, Unwrap the Music seeks to explore the genius of great music and deliver it to an audience in an illuminating and accessible manner. Australian conductor and music presenter Graham Abbott joins the APO to dissect Bernstein’s masterwork. Abbott presents a unique and inspired perspective on Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances as a music specialist and engaging educator.

Don’t miss this chance to see the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra playing Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

6.30pm, Tuesday 18 October at the Auckland Town Hall.

Tickets available here.

Photo by Adrian Malloch Photography