The Plain Dealer has published a preview of Brett Mitchell's upcoming subscription concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra, his final Severance Hall performances as the ensemble's associate conductor:
No one conceived the Cleveland Orchestra's season finale next week as a farewell to associate conductor Brett Mitchell.
As it turns out, however, that's exactly what it is, and with "West Side Story" as the main attraction, even Mitchell himself couldn't have planned it better.
"For someone like me, it's just about perfect," said Mitchell, the future music director of the Colorado Symphony. "It's tailor-made for my relationship with the Cleveland Orchestra."
Indeed, it's hard to imagine a program more representative of Mitchell's four years at Severance Hall than a live performance of Bernstein's "West Side Story" along with the film.
During Mitchell's tenure, the orchestra's commitment to film music expanded significantly. Meanwhile, all along, he served as a staunch advocate for American music of all stripes, Bernstein's included....
"I wish I could take credit for it, but it wasn't even my idea," said Mitchell of "West Side Story," a film that also taps his lifelong love of American musical theater. "I just feel very fortunate that my musical background has prepared me for this kind of project."
It's a good thing he's prepared. Performing "West Side Story" this way, live and in synch with the film, is a task far more complicated than it would be with many other films, or conducting a traditional performance in concert or as part of a theater production.
The challenge, in this case, is the film itself. Long before anyone could have dreamed of an orchestra performing the film live, the editors of "West Side Story" spliced together tidbits from any number of recorded takes, all of which differ slightly in terms of tempo.
Following along, therefore, becomes something of a "high-wire act," Mitchell explained. "You've got to hit every single one of those transitions live. You really don't have any choice."
Not that there's any real risk of falling. During their time together, Mitchell and the orchestra have become old pros at performing film scores in this manner.
Mitchell therefore knows of what he speaks when he predicts that this account of "West Side Story," his last scheduled appearance as a member of the Cleveland Orchestra, will be unlike any other he's seen or been a part of.
"This is a really special way to experience 'West Side Story,'" Mitchell said. "When you get to hear this score with this orchestra, it's really going to highlight Bernstein's music in a way other versions simply cannot do."
To read the complete preview, please click here.