May 8, 2014

A Brief Note on Pixar in Concert by Ashley Morton

Just posting a little something about Pixar in Concert because I keep thinking about it. My guess is that the event was so popular they will have to do it again sometime, and I suggest you try to go!

The concert began with a fanfare from Toy Story. There was a giant screen situated over the orchestra, that showed a mini montage from each film as the orchestra played selections from its score. My first impression when looking at the program was that they were starting off with a bang (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille right from the start) but maybe using all of their good stuff too soon (ending on Brave and Monster's University). I was so very wrong; the order of film scores was fantastic. The first half of the program was softer, with Wall-E in the middle, and ending with the tear-jerking opening of Up. The second half started with The Incredibles, jolting you back into the music and following with the swinging music of Monsters Inc. and Cars 2. I haven't seen Brave, but watching the montage and hearing the music (complete with bagpipes) made me want to. The evening was quite a success because I enjoyed even the scores of films I hadn't seen, and it drew attention to some impressive scores that we may have forgotten; everyone remembers Wall-E, but maybe not A Bug's Life.

Conducted by David Newman (Academy Award Nominee, son of nine-time Oscar winning composer Alfred Newman and relative of Pixar composers Randy Newman and Thomas Newman) the evening had brief interjections and he stumbled over descriptions of the films, discussed some of the challenges and steps in composing, and was clearly very proud of his Randy and Thomas's accomplishments and nominations (I believe the family has been nominated 100 times in total). The family dynamic was so appropriate for such a family-friendly event, and the pacing was done so well, and the films so entertaining, that, despite being surrounded by kids, the only sounds I ever heard from them were bursts of giggles (I admit it, I giggled too). I assume that by the second night he probably got the mini speeches together a bit more, and either way, it was still enjoyable to hear him speak, and the informality suited the fun of the whole night, which finished with an encore of "You've Got a Friend in Me." Overall, it was a fabulous evening, it made me go straight home and listen to more Disney and Pixar music--which is exactly what you want from a night with the New York Philharmonic.

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