Another intriguing aspect of this maestro's work is his position as music consultant to NASA! He's conducted several programs, include a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and 20th anniversary of the Hubble telescope launch. Let's bring him back to Toronto with that concert! It would have awe inspiring images to accompany the music.
You don't realize how much music is in a movie until you have the musicians playing the score right in front of you. The songs (by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg) are obviously what people remember, yet the back score, which can be easily forgettable when watching a movie at home, came alive. Herbert Stothart who was the house composer for MGM wrote it and incorporated themes from the songs as well as classical music. I had never noticed that until the scene when Dorothy was escaping from the witches castle and Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" started; very fitting for Halloween. There were occasions when the balance between the movie and the orchestra was off. The sound effects were still part of the movie and the tornado wind drowned out most of the music during the flight to Oz. It was also possible to forget that the musicians were even there, a testament to how much in-sync they were with the movie.
It's been many years since I've watched The Wizard of Oz, and I wasn't prepared for the audiences enthusiastic response. There were cheers for Leo the Lion's roar at the start, Toto's escapes, laughs at the Lollipop Guild (I'd forgotten how campy some lines actually were), boos for the Wicked Witch of the West, and applause following "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It was also quite a spectacle on a huge screen in HD. The colour after the sepia tones of Kansas totally popped. Whoever decided on the use of colour only in Oz made a fantastic choice.
Costumes were encouraged, and audience and orchestra alike took that to heart. A few of the notable ones follow:
Principal Bass Jeffrey Beecher as the Yellow Brick Road and Assistant Principal Bass Kristen Bruya as the Tin Man.
Not to be left out, here's a few of the audience costumes (taken from the TSO's photostream on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/torontosymphonyorchestra)
A group making it a family affair.
In this era of remakes and updates, sequels and prequels (don't get me wrong I love the music in Wicked!), it was a great experience to return to the ultimate Oz movie in such a great venue!