This was my first time seeing a full movie with live orchestra accompaniment, although I did see excerpts of Rodgers and Hammerstein movies accompanied by the orchestra. Technology allows them to remove only the music from the soundtrack and play the singing, dialogue, and other sound effects of the movie. Then it's up to the conductor, in this case the fabulous Sarah Hicks, to add the live music with the precise timing to match what's happening on screen, which she did beautifully. This causes a dilemma, whether to watch the movie playing on the screen, or to watch Sarah and the musicians as they bring the score to life.
The La La Land score really shows off all parts of the orchestra. Obviously it's very piano heavy (with Markell C. Brooks beautifully playing the role of Ryan Gosling's hands), but there are also some great brass moments in the jazz parts, as well as woodwind features, and percussion, and some sweeping string moments. Not only does the orchestra play the songs on the soundtrack, but also all of the underscoring, even if it's just a few seconds of sound. It's kind of fun to watch the big fight scene while the orchestra plays smooth jazz under it, until they stop and the silence rings louder than the music. After a while I was able to get lost in the fantasy of the movie (Ryan Gosling dancing in two-toned shoes, yummy costumes, dreamy fantasy sequences, and cinematography that makes me want to visit L.A., something I've never had the desire to do) and still observe and appreciate the musicians.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark, October 27-28
- The Little Mermaid (my personal favorite Disney movie), November 25-26
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, December 15-17
- West Side Story, February 15-17
- Cirque Goes to the Movies, May 18-19 (unlike the others, this one is not a presentation of a full movie, but rather the orchestra plays movie score excerpts while Circque du Soleil does their thing)
- Leslie Odom, Jr. (aka the original Aaron Burr, sir), November 18
- Audra McDonald (aka the greatest Broadway person ever), July 13
As a former band geek (I played the clarinet all through high school and a bit in college, if you're interested) who's too busy with theater to go to the orchestra, I appreciate concerts like this that give me an excuse to do just that. Visit the Minnesota Orchestra's website for their full calendar of events.