Arts & Culture

UK Wind Symphony Presents 'West Side Story' Concert

photo of UK Wind Symphony's West Side Story concert poster

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 19, 2021) — With Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of "West Side Story" hitting cinemas in mere weeks, University of Kentucky Wind Symphony welcomes you to campus for a performance of the musical's Symphonic Dances beginning 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Singletary Center for the Arts

UK Wind Symphony's final concert of the 2021 Fall Concert Season features compositions by Leonard Bernstein, Alfred Reed, Morten Lauridsen and Peter Tchaikovsky. 

The featured work on the program will be Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story," which was first performed by the New York Philharmonic on an all-Bernstein concert in 1961, four years after the opening of "West Side Story" on Broadway. The songs of the musical had immediately become popular standards, while at the same time the dance music had been sophisticated enough to find its way into the concert hall, like music of a ballet. Most composers for Broadway were songwriters who did not write their own dance music, but Bernstein, a fully trained composer who had already written two formal ballets, crafted these remarkable dances himself. The suite encompasses "Prologue," "Somewhere," "Scherzo," "Mambo" (a competitive dance between the gangs), "Cha-Cha" (when Tony and Maria see one another for the first time), "Cool," "Rumble" and the "Finale" (where love music and a procession that recalls the ever-popular aria "Somewhere," but now with a more tragic sentiment).

Other works on the program include Alfred Reed’s Symphony for Brass and Percussion, "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen, "Dance of the Jesters" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and as an encore Bernstein’s "Slava!"

The UK Wind Symphony consists of the finest wind and percussion graduate and undergraduate students in the nationally recognized UK School of Music conducted by John Cody Birdwell, director of UK Bands. As the centerpiece of a band program that has served the Commonwealth of Kentucky for over 100 years, the Wind Symphony continues a rich tradition of performing the finest traditional and contemporary compositions in the concert band/chamber winds repertoire.  

Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students. Free tickets for UK students can be purchased in advance up to the day before the concert. To purchase tickets, contact the Singletary Center for the Arts ticket office at 859-257-4929, visit online at or visit the ticket office in person.

The Singletary Center is preparing to welcome audiences to events this semester but requests that everyone, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, remain masked at all times. The safety policy applies to students, faculty, staff and community visitors.

The School of Music at UK College of Fine Arts has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition and theory and music history.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.