Gil Harel: The West Side Story Story - Past, Present, and Future

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Accompanied by musical clips, Professor Gil Harel will explore the phenomenon of West Side Story. Few Broadway musicals have had as much impact as West Side Story. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this modern tale of forbidden love was a collaboration between some of the biggest names in the genre, including Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents, Robbins, and more. Though set in the 1950s, its timelessness is reflected in the fact that it has experienced at least eight revivals since its 1957 premier. Indeed, West Side Story is as topical as ever, with audiences introduced to a Spielberg-directed cinematic adaptation in December 2021. Here we will examine the legacy of this remarkable work - how it came together, how it has evolved and remained relevant, and finally, how the story has been and might be adapted in future incarnations.

About the Speaker: Gil Harel (PhD, Brandeis University) is a musicologist and music theorist whose interests include styles ranging from western classical repertoire to jazz and musical theater. Previously, he served on the faculty at CUNY Baruch College (where he was awarded the prestigious "Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching"). Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Music at Naugatuck Valley Community College, where he has been presented with the AFT "Merit Award for Exemplary Service to the College" for 5 consecutive years. In 2020, he was honored with the coveted Connecticut Board of Regents (BOR) Teaching Award. At NVCC, Dr. Harel conducts the college chorale, a cappella ensemble, teaches music history and theory, and serves as musical director of theater productions.