Gustavo Dudamel, the New York Philharmonic, and “West Side Story”

Posted on: February 3, 2022

“Anyone who has seen Gustavo Dudamel’s signature interpretation of the mambo from West Side Story’s ‘Dance at the Gym’ sequence knows the man understands how to whip an audience into a musical frenzy,” writes Juan A. Ramirez in Monday’s (1/31) Vanity Fair. “Appointed music director of [Venezuela’s] Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in 1999, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009, and music director of the Paris Opera since 2021—three posts he holds simultaneously—he has built a tricoastal reputation…. When the call came from Steven Spielberg to conduct [Leonard] Bernstein’s iconic score for his 2021 film adaptation of West Side Story, ‘it was the most “yes” yes I’ve ever said in my life,’ Dudamel said…. ‘I’d done it … all over the place, but to conduct it for a full film was something else,’ he says…. Spielberg and Rita Moreno, an executive producer on the film in addition to her acting role, were both searching for ways to make this version of the classic musical feel authentically Latin when they first met with Dudamel…. Recording sessions took place in early 2019, with Dudamel conducting the New York Philharmonic—the orchestra that Bernstein once led.”