The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and newly appointed assistant conductor, Francesco Lecce-Chong, presented this past Wednesday a one-night-only performance of Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS film with score performed live by the orchestra. The magical atmosphere of Heinz Hall given by Maestro Lecce-Chong and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra aided in the show becoming more alive with the live accompaniment. I followed Jack Skellington into Heinz Hall, and the deceptively delightful journey into THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS began! The film and characters most definitely came to life with more depth in the story line than I realized, simply because the Pittsburgh Symphony was accompanying the movie. Although the music was technically detached from the film projected on the screen, it was fully attached and connected. The audience got the best of both worlds at this show — experiencing the iconic and festive film on the big screen, and casting the spotlight on Danny Elfman’s fantastic musical genius of the score presented by the world class ensemble, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The Pittsburgh Symphony and Lecce-Chong did their best to stay in sync with the film, but it is almost inevitable to experience issues of timing and balance in this strict setting with the combination of pre-recorded works with live accompaniment. The orchestra and Maestro Lecce-Chong did come apart from the film at times, but Lecce-Chong compensated well in getting the orchestra back on track and overall the timing issues did not detract from the fun and thrilling atmosphere the evening held.
Movies without music…what would they be? Aside from an engaging and compelling story for a film, the music in my opinion is where the magic really lies. Music in films is the bridge to connecting the story with emotions, whether comedy or drama. The stories woven in music tell a story on its own. The film is just a visual aid, I think.
Bravo, Bravo to Maestro Lecce-Chong, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the composer of the music for the film, Danny Elfman, for the transporting, exciting and enjoyable music presented to the audience.