Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore: these are just a few of the film composers who have brought the world’s most memorable films to life through music. Why listen to these amazing soundtracks in a theatre when you can watch the film with live music instead? The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has been bringing soundtracks to the forefront through its Movies with Live Orchestra series, and the latest, Jaws in Concert, happens this week.
We caught up with Principal Double Bassist for the TSO, Jeffrey Beecher, ahead of the screening of Jaws in Concert, to find out what it’s like to perform live along with your favourite films.
AGO: When did the TSO Movies with Live Orchestra series start and what was the first film?
Jeffrey: The first TSO film presentation was in the 2011/12 season, and it was The Wizard of Oz.
AGO: Where you surprised by the popularity?
Jeffrey: Watching movies is one of my greatest joys, so I’m not that surprised. Like many musicians, I quickly fell in love with great film scores and composers. Like many orchestras, the Toronto Symphony has been playing excerpts of movie themes on school concerts for years. It’s fantastic to see the old tradition of live musical accompaniment refreshed in our day and age.
AGO: What kind of preparation is involved with these screenings?
Jeffrey: Of course, the musicians will have to know their parts well before rehearsal starts (that crazy flute part in Harry Potter, finding all the appropriate percussion gear for Howard Shore’s music). There’s also an incredible amount of technical set-up required for the screenings – ensuring the projectors are running smoothly, setting up mics for every instrument, etc.
AGO: Are audiences more enthusiastic than at a regular TSO event?
Jeffrey: There is a looser vibe in the hall, which is great! Each film has a different atmosphere, but audience participation is definitely encouraged – we’re cheering, laughing and transfixed in the moment on stage as well. People love these films and we want them to have a great time. I’m always impressed how many people dress up in appropriate house colours for our Harry Potter screenings – Slytherin seems to be the most popular house in the 6ix…
AGO: What would be the most challenging score to do? Any films on your wish list?
Jeffrey: The Lord of the Rings scores are really challenging to do live – lots of focus and stamina are required. I’d love to play some of Alexandre Desplat’s music (The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Shape of Water). Hans Zimmer certainly writes epic film music that’s sure to captivate an audience – Batman Begins, Inception, or Gladiator. And a week-long run of the entire Star Wars films would be the greatest thing ever.
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