Gustavo Dudamel to Conduct Score for Steven Spielberg’s 'West Side Story'

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The music director of the L.A. Philharmonic will helm the recording of Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score.

Steven Spielberg has assembled an award-winning group of music veterans to revive Leonard Bernstein's iconic score for his adaptation of West Side Story.

Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the recording of the score. The Venezuelan-born conductor, the music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, earned the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society from the Longy School of Music.

Oscar nominee David Newman (Anastasia) will arrange the score for the new adaptation, while Tony Award winner Jeanine Tesori (Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie) will be working with the cast on vocals. Rounding out the team is Grammy-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (Chicago), who will serve as executive music producer for the film.

“Since the moment West Side Story hit Broadway in 1957, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s iconic music has helped define America’s musical identity,” said Spielberg in a statement. “To find a team with the experience and talent to honor the original work — while bringing a fresh vision to our new adaptation — was a tall order. I’m confident that this incredible group will do just that, and I am privileged and grateful to have them as partners on this journey.” 

“When asked to collaborate with the greatest film director of our time, on one of the greatest musicals ever written and conduct a score composed by one of your heroes, first you catch your breath and ask yourself, ‘Is this really happening?’ After you realize this is true, you humbly, yet very quickly, say, ‘YES, thank you,'" added Dudamel. “Although I am only at the very beginning, I view this adaptation of West Side Story as one of the highlights of my career. It is one of the most beautiful and beloved scores in the history of musical theatre and I can’t wait for the chance to conduct some of the most magnificent songs that Leonard Bernstein ever wrote."

Spielberg will direct West Side Story from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. Newcomer Rachel Zegler will play Maria opposite Baby Driver actor Ansel Elgort as Tony.

West Side Story is slated for a Dec. 18, 2020 release.