Thursday 17 February, 2022

Robert Trevino goes for a fully American-flavoured programme with Bernstein and Zhou

Robert Trevino goes for a fully American-flavoured programme with Bernstein and Zhou

The “Symphonic Dances” from "West Side Story" and "Symphony No. 2" by Bernstein and the "Concerto for Orchestra" by Zhou make up the new programme of concerts that the Basque National Orchestra will offer between 21 and 25 February. 

West Side Story is a classic Broadway musical that continues to be relevant after the new adaptation by Steven Spielberg of the original film, for which he has received Oscar nominations. The Basque National Orchestra will start the concert with a performance of the popular “Symphonic Dances” of the soundtrack composed by Leonard Bernstein to then continue with the début in Europe of Concerto for Orchestra by Zhou Tian. The Chinese-American composer has travelled to the Basque Country to attend the première and will also attend working and studying sessions with composition students from Musikene. The programme of concerts will end with Symphony No. 2, also by Bernstein, and which belongs to a very different category in his production, being more focused on philosophical and religious reflection. Muscovite pianist Yulianna Avdeeva will be the protagonist of this score, which will be for the first time by the Basque National Orchestra.

The concerts in this programme will be held over the coming days in the four usual capital cities: on Monday 21 February, in the Teatro Principal in Vitoria-Gasteiz; on Tuesday 22 February, in the Baluarte Auditorium in Pamplona; on Wednesday 23 February, in the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao; and on Thursday and Friday 24 and 25 February, in the Kursaal Auditorium in San Sebastián. They will all start at 19:30.




Leonard Bernstein was one of the most complete musicians of the 20th century and an essential figure for music in the United States. He stood out in everything he did: as an orchestra conductor he was and still is a fundamental reference; he was a magnificent pianist, often conducting from the keyboard; and he was also an exceptional communicator, featuring in a series of videos about the secrets of music that today are still cult classics. But his most influential facet was undoubtedly that of a composer, as he helped to shape the still young North American music with highly original and popular creations. In these concerts we will listen to two that are not very far apart in time but are very different.

West Side Story premièred as a musical in 1957 in Washington, D.C. before it moved to Broadway, where it achieved the wild success that would lead to the production of the legendary film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, and which is now nominated for the Oscars in Steven Spielberg's revision. West Side Story is a modern revision of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, but this suite focuses on the dances, and therefore, the love story takes a back seat to give protagonism to the tense hostility between two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

Symphony No. 2 belongs to a very different category in Bernstein's production, his works dealing with philosophical and religious reflection. Bernstein started working on it in 1947, after reading the poem The Age of Anxiety by W. H. Auden, about the difficult search for faith in contemporary society. The idea of including a soloist piano arose from Bernstein's personal identification, as he was a pianist and practised Judaism. Symphony No. 2 will feature an extraordinary pianist, Yulianna Avdeeva, winner of the Chopin Competition in 2010 and one of the great current performers of piano repertoires.

Zhou Tian was born in China in 1981 into a musical family, but at the age of 18 he moved to the United States to pursue his composition studies at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, New York’s Juilliard School and the University of Southern California. At the start of his career, Zhou developed a wide variety of activities, creating soundtrack music, jazz pieces and even proposals that combined Chinese folk music with Western classical music. His leap to fame took place in 2018 when he received a Grammy nomination for the work that the Basque National Orchestra will be performing, the Concerto for Orchestra. Since then the score, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, has travelled a long way, with performances by many North American orchestras and also by those in other countries, particularly China. The performance of this work by the Basque National Orchestra means its début in Europe. Zhou states that his Concerto for Orchestra is “a love letter to the symphony orchestra, with passages ranging from epic to extremely intimate. It mixes jazz harmonies with popular Chinese melodies”.

Taking advantage of his stay in the Basque Country during the week of concerts, Zhou Tian will participate in a number of activities organised by Musikene for its composition students, and will attend the concert offered by Ensemble Kuraia on Saturday afternoon, where it will perform works by him.



Tickets on sale starting at 10 euros


There are tickets on sale for all the sessions on, as well as on the websites and at the ticket booths of the auditoriums, from 10 to 35 euros.

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