Blue Mountains Orchestra and Blaxland High celebrate Leonard Bernstein

Blue Mountains Orchestra celebrates the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth and 70 years since the death of Richard Strauss in a performance at the Hub in Springwood.

The highly acclaimed singers from Blaxland High will fill the roles of Tony, Maria, the Jets and the Sharks as they join with the orchestra to perform highlights from West Side Story and celebrate the genuis of Bernstein.

Young Jets and Sharks: David Leishman rehearses West Side Story with Blaxland High Singers.

Young Jets and Sharks: David Leishman rehearses West Side Story with Blaxland High Singers.

Under the inspirational leadership of David Leishman, Blaxland High has built a reputation as "The Singing School", scooping the pool in almost every eisteddfod in 2018 with large choirs and many vocal ensembles.

Mal Hewitt, conductor of Blue Mountains Orchestra, said: "I had the privilege of directing the first amateur performance of West Side Story in Australia in 1968, with students of Merrylands High School, and I believe that teenagers are more authentic in the roles of gang members of the Jets and Sharks than adult actors.

"The direct translation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the streets and alleys of 1950s New York, combined with the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and the dynamic music of Bernstein, produce what I believe is the greatest musical ever written."

Also on the program will be Richard Strauss, the great opera composer of the 20th century, who wrote many songs for soprano voice and orchestra, often given their premiere by his wife, Pauline.

In 1948, at the age of 84, he wrote his exquisite musical farewell to the world, his Four Last Songs.

Samantha Cobcroft, soprano soloist.

Samantha Cobcroft, soprano soloist.

He died in 1949 without hearing them performed.

These will be performed by Samantha Cobcroft, who attributes her career in music to another inspirational teacher, Wendy Huddleston of Armidale High.

A music honours graduate and university medal winner from Newcastle university, Cobcrofit's stage roles have ranged from Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance to the Countess in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

The orchestra's wind players will also perform the beautiful Wind Serenade, composed by a 16-year-old Strauss.

20th Century Musical Giants at The Hub, 104 Macquarie Road, Springwood, at 2pm on Sunday, May 5. Book at www.bluemountainstheatre.com or 4723 5050.