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John Mauceri Was Musical Director of 2007 All-School Production Which Marked 50th Anniversary of Hit Broadway Musical

WINSTON-SALEM – John Mauceri, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), is among the distinguished artists interviewed for a recently released Blu-ray documentary A PLACE FOR US: WEST SIDE STORY’S LEGACY. The documentary is part of a two-disc set which also includes West Side Story: the 50th Anniversary Edition.

An internationally renowned conductor, Maestro Mauceri was musical director for UNCSA’s 2007 all-school production of West Side Story, which went on to play at the prestigious Ravinia Festival in Chicago. He worked closely for 18 years with West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein, and has conducted Bernstein works (many of them premieres) in major capitals of the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, London, Milan and Tel Aviv.

The hit Broadway musical West Side Story opened in 1957, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins with music by Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. UNCSA Drama Dean Gerald Freedman was assistant director. The WEST SIDE STORY film, released in 1961, starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. It won a record-breaking 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Original Score, Best Supporting Actress (Moreno) and Best Supporting Actor (Chakiris).

Five decades after its release, the film has been restored in high definition as the 50th anniversary edition. It is included in the two-disc Blu-ray, along with the documentary, which features interviews with Mauceri, Sondheim, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Chita Rivera, Susan Stroman, and Jamie Bernstein (daughter of Leonard Bernstein). The Blu-ray is also available as part of a limited edition boxed set which includes a newly restored DVD, a tribute CD featuring the music of West Side Story, and collectible memorabilia.

West Side Story sets the ageless story of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of gang warfare in 1950s New York. Jets gang member Tony falls in love with Maria, whose brother leads the rival Sharks, and a battle to the death ensues. Famous songs from the Broadway musical and the film include “Maria,” “America,” “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty.”

UNSCA’s all-school production of West Side Story, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Broadway musical, grossed nearly $1 million during its two-week run at the school’s Roger L. Stevens Center in Winston-Salem in May 2007.

Mauceri is the author of “Celebrating West Side Story,” which highlights the performance and features photographs, by Donald Dietz, from the auditions, set and costume design, and more. Shorter versions of the book’s prologue and epilogue ‒ penned by Mauceri – originally appeared as an article in SYMPHONY, the magazine of the American Symphony Orchestra League.

John Mauceri is the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and the Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. His distinguished and extraordinary career has taken him not only to over 25 of the world’s greatest opera companies and more than 50 symphony orchestras, but also the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as the most prestigious halls of academia.

Maestro Mauceri has served as music director of four opera companies: Washington (National), Scottish (Glasgow), the Teatro Regio (Turin, Italy), and Pittsburgh. He is the first American to have held the post of music director of an opera house in either Great Britain or Italy. He was the first music director of the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall after its founding director, Leopold Stokowski, with whom he studied. He was Consultant for Music Theater at Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for more than a decade, and, for 15 years, he served on the faculty of Yale University. For 18 years, Mauceri worked closely with Leonard Bernstein and conducted many of the composer’s premieres at Bernstein’s request.

On Broadway, he was co-producer of On Your Toes, and served as musical supervisor for Hal Prince’s production of Candide as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance. He also conducted the orchestra for the film version of Evita. Among his many awards and honors are a Tony, Grammy, Billboard, Olivier, and two Emmys. Last year, his recording of Erich Korngold’s Between Two Worlds was selected by Gramophone magazine as one of the 250 Greatest Recordings of All Time. In April, Gramophone named two of his recordings with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra among the “10 great studio re-creations” of classic movie soundtracks.

Chancellor Mauceri holds the lifetime title of Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and with whom he led over 300 concerts to a total audience of over 4 million people. He has written for and appeared on radio and television and has delivered keynote speeches and papers for major artistic and educational institutions, such as Harvard University, the American Academy in Berlin, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Musicological Society, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He recently published articles for Cambridge University Press and Gramophone magazine.

Mauceri has taken the lead in the preservation and performance of many genres of music and has supervised/conducted important premieres by composers as diverse as Debussy, Stockhausen, Korngold, Hindemith, Bernstein, Ives, Elfman, and Shore. He is a leading performer of music banned by the Third Reich and especially music of Hollywood’s émigré composers, and can be seen and heard on many recent DVD releases of classic films.

Recent performances include an October 2010 debut in Spain at the Bilbao Opera as musical director of Susannah, with composer Carlisle Floyd present; and a November 2010 debut in Denmark with The Danish National Orchestra, conducting “Emigrés and Protégés – The Hollywood Diaspora.” Last spring, he completed a critically acclaimed run as musical director and artistic supervisor of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, an all-UNCSA production and restoration of the original 1943 Broadway production which was filmed and broadcast over UNC-TV this fall, and will be re-broadcast in the spring.

One of the world's preeminent experts on film music, Chancellor Mauceri appeared on June 29 at an event celebrating the life of film composer Bernard Herrmann, at WQXR in New York City, which can be heard online at WNYC’s The Greene Space. In addition, a studio recording of George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 hit Broadway musical, Strike Up the Band, conducted by John Mauceri, was released June 21 by PS Classics.

In August, Maestro Mauceri made his debut at the Aspen Music Festival conducting his edition of Dmitri Shostakovich’s score to Hamlet, adapted from the 1964 Soviet film score for six actors and symphony orchestra. Also in August, Mauceri returned to the Hollywood Bowl, where he led the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in Walt Disney’s Fantasia. In September, Maestro Mauceri conducted the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during a private concert to commemorate, in words and music, the 10th anniversary of the tragedies that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.