News >

Jan. 20, 2012
Contact: Steve Rottinghaus, Baker University public relations director, (785) 594-8330 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

‘The Creation of West Side Story’ to be presented on Feb. 9

Baldwin City, Kan. — The University of Kansas School of Music and Reach Out Kansas Inc. will present “The Creation of West Side Story” at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, at McKibbin Recital Hall as part of the 2011-12 Kansas Partnership for the Arts series. Admission is free.

Paul Baird, professor of musicology at KU, and KU music students will perform at the event.Baker-arch1

“The collaborative, creative act of writing a piece of musical theater is often a mystery to members of the audience,” Baird said. “Our presentations will consider such matters for ‘West Side Story’ (1957), one of the most important shows in the history of the American musical theater.”

Laird has published extensively on Leonard Bernstein and his shows, including two books and several articles. Laird also has taught many courses on Broadway musicals for KU Continuing Education. He will begin “The Creation of West Side Story” with a lively, 25-minute lecture on how the creators decided that their modern version of “Romeo and Juliet” would be set in modern Manhattan amidst gang violence between white and Puerto Rican gangs; how dance became a crucial part of the story-telling; Bernstein’s use of various types of Latin American music in his score; and detailed looks at the creation of some of the scenes or songs, with consideration of how the material changed during the show’s developmental period.

The Kansas Partnership for the Arts is sponsored by Reach Out Kansas, Inc.; Smithyman & Zakoura, Chartered, of Overland Park, Kan.; and The Zakoura Family Fund.

For more information about this program, contact the KU School of Music at (785) 864-3436 or visit


Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.