CLINTON — Clinton Symphony Orchestra of the Mohawk Valley will present West Side Story at Stone Presbyterian Church, 8 S. Park Row, at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 1.
Tickets will be sold at the door at a cost of $15 and $5 for students.
The performance will also feature soprano Colby Thomas and tenor Nicholas Abounader.
Charles Schneider has conducted more live performances of West Side Story than any other conductor and worked side-by-side with Maestro Bernstein when he learned the score.
“I got on Bernstein’s radar in the spring of 1965 when I was given the opportunity to be the music director of an off-Broadway revival of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti,” said Schneider. “As the production was very successful, his office recommended me to Michael Bennett (Chorus Line, Promises, Promises, Follies, Company, etc.) who was choreographing and putting together a national six-month tour of West Side Story.”
He said, “After I played through the show for him on the piano, he hired me on the spot. That summer, we played in nearly every major city east of the Mississippi – 8 to 10 performances a week. The venues, with few exceptions, were huge — the biggest being the outdoor theater in Kansas City that had 10,000 seats and we sold out every performance.”
In 1967, Schneider was hired to conduct a second national tour that went for five months, again playing in theaters in major cities.
“In the early spring of 1968, I saw a poster advertising a new production at Lincoln Center to honor Maestro Bernstein on his 50th birthday,” he said. “I wrote to him to tell him I would like to be considered as a possible conductor . In early April, I got a phone call from him early in the morning inviting me to conduct. The production ran for three months and sold out every performance in the hall that seats about 2,000 for a total of 98 performances. I signed a contract to conduct the television production, this time in Vienna, but, unfortunately, it got cancelled due to backstage union problems.”
Schneider said, “My experience with West Side Story is one of the proudest achievements of my life.”