I’m here to say that I attended all three of the performances of the recent Boston Symphony Orchestra/West Side Story (HD film) concert, and the performances were absolutely fabulous! Since I’d always wanted to see the film West Side Story on Valentine’s Day, I finally got my wish! (The BSO/WSS concert performances took place on 2/14/-2/15, at 8:00 p. m., and on Sunday, 2/16, at 3:00 p. m. Friday and Sunday, the weather was okay, but on Saturday night, I braved the Boston area snowstorm, trekked over to the MBTA subway stop nearest to where I live, and took public transportation to the meeting place of 14 other people. We all took a bus over to Symphony Hall together, and had a wonderful evening out, and one couple who’d come with us was kind enough to drive me home afterwards.
On Sunday afternoon (yesterday), I took an absolutely packed MBTA (Mass. Bay Transit Authority) train to the Symphony stop, near Boston Symphony Hall, and met my friends there. We had a fun-packed afternoon, and we went our own separate ways. Even more heartening, one of the two women who attended yesterday afternoon’s performance of the BSO/West Side Story concert called me up this morning specially to thank me for having invited them to come along to the concert with me, and I told her that I was glad that they were both able to make it and come with me, and that it had been a wonderful afternoon.
West Side Story is a fantastic movie to begin with, but having a famous live orchestra play a live rendition of an already-brilliant musical score, while the singing and dialogues in the film were kept intact, brought this great, golden oldie but keeper of a classic film to a whole new level. Through great creativeness via modern technology, a great feat was accomplished; melding a live orchestral rendition to Bernstein’s musical score with the singing and dialogue of a beautifully dynamic movie.
Since I had seats that had me and my friends/classmates looking directly at the center of the stage, I was able to watch the movie while eyeing the orchestra players and the conductor at the same time. The conductor was especially interesting to watch; he seemed totally into what he was conducting, and to enjoy himself, nonetheless. Although looking at it from the back of the orchestral tier of Symphony Hall gave a good viewing, sitting on a balcony of Symphony Hall, especially with a movie such as West Side Story, which, imho, is better viewed from the balcony of any movie theatre, to begin with, presented a view where one could look slightly downward, thus getting a better view of the stage and to not have people’s heads directly in the viewer’s way, enabling the viewer to really take in both the movie and the live orchestra at the same time. (Btw, the film was a HD digitally-restored, cleaned up, remastered and reprinted version of the film West Side Story, so it was even more beautiful!)
The orchestra added its own perks to an already-great and brilliant musical score, and all of the characters seemed to be brought even further up into the heavens, if one gets the drift. Had the screen been at least 2 or 3 feet longer on each end, however, it would’ve added more to an already great restoration of a great movie, and to the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s live rendition of this great movie musical score. It was well worth braving unpredictable public transportation, not to mention the stormy weather on Saturday night, in order to get there. All three performances were pretty much sold out, with the exception of a small minority of people who’d probably bought tickets and couldn’t make it, for whatever reason.
This was an even better performance than at Tanglewood, and it was well worth going to.
• 1961 film, leonard bernstein