Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sat Nov 15
Instant happiness! That is what this concert delivered, along with a marvellous trip through the last twenty years of PIXAR animation and the glorious musical scores that are such an important part of each film. The program presented the music chronologically from the very first PIXAR film Toy Story (1995) to the most recent Monsters University (2013). The four composers for the 14 films – Thomas Newman, Randy Newman, Patrick Doyle and Michael Giacchino – were celebrated and acknowledged throughout. The teaming of the music with clips from each film highlighted key elements of each story and reminded the audience of the wonderful characters in each PIXAR film.
Pixar In Concert was like a modern day silent-film experience. Your senses were more alert to the nuances of both the music and what is shown on the screen. You didn’t need to know any of the films to find the whole experience uplifting and enjoyable; there were many in the audience who were not familiar with these marvels of animation. For those of us who, over the past 20 years, have enjoyed the successive films produced by PIXAR Studios the concert was a nostalgic journey down memory lane and a reminder of how significant their contribution to our cultural landscape.
Each soundtrack reflects the unique setting and characters of the film and the combination of sound and images helps to create their powerful and enduring effect on audiences. The four composers use various twentieth century music genres and references to traditional folk and popular music. Randy Newman created the music for some of the most popular films – the three award winning Toy Story films as well as Monsters Inc., Monsters University and Cars. This music takes us on an emotional journey through wonder, fear, drama, love and friendship with big orchestral arrangements and music that reminds us of cowboy films and space all in the same score. In Cars (2006) we hear banjos, acoustic guitars and American country music – not your typical orchestral instruments, which I loved.
Thomas Newman’s music for Finding Nemo (2003) emphasises the beauty and wonder of that underwater world. We hear the playfulness of species living together, the harmony of their paradise, the humour as the sharks are introduced, the fear and darkness as the fish are caught in a net. The music in each film highlights the emotions both for the characters but also for the beauty of nature and the world. No wonder children and adults are so entranced.
All excerpts were wonderful but my favourites were the music for The Incredibles (2004), UP! (2009) and Wall-E (2008). The Incredibles music composed by Michael Giacchino goes back to ‘60s TV style with references to Get Smart, The Avengers and early Bond films – full of brass and discord. Thomas Newman’s score for Wall-E contains unique sounds for the robots, which add humour and humanity to the characters. The music of the dump contrasts with the music of the heavens, which is full orchestral music highlighting the magnificence and wonder of the solar system. Michael Giacchino’s score for UP! won an Oscar for Best Original Score. The Married Life sequence, a summary of Carl and his wife Ellie’s relationship, is one of the most beautiful sequences on film; the music captures the passing of time from different eras and the range of emotions the couple experience over a lifetime. It brought tears to my eyes, and to those of many others in the audience; such is the power of that musical and visual moment.
As each piece was performed the audience responded with laughter, enthusiastic clapping and delight. The quality of the music was exceptional with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra playing loud and proud. Conductor Nicholas Buc obviously loves his work and these scores; his lively energy combined with that of the orchestra produced a night of exceptional music that was enjoyed by all. It was thrilling to see so many children being delighted by Adelaide’s world class Symphony Orchestra.
I really enjoyed that this was not a typical ASO performance or audience; children laughing and chatting and cheering, adults smiling and shedding the occasional tear. Even the musicians were smiling, clearly enjoying themselves and the non-typical style of the music they were playing. It was the perfect performance for all.
A brilliant concert and concept! Bravo!
by Taissa Ceric