Over the Rainbow with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Over the Rainbow with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The Wizard of Oz Film with Orchestra
The Wizard of Oz Film with Orchestra


The PSO and Resident Conductor, Lawrence Loh presented this past week five PNC POPS performances of The Wizard of Oz film with orchestra. I had the opportunity to be in attendance at one of these phenomenally executed performances, and what an incredibly enjoyable experience it was. I followed the yellow brick road into Heinz Hall, and the journey to Emerald City and “Over the Rainbow” began. I am not sure if the film seemed to come alive with more depth in the story line than I realized, due to the fact that the film was projected on a big screen with surround sound which gave the experience a “movie-theater feel”, or the fact that the PSO was accompanying the movie. I suppose I would venture to say it was the latter.

To expand on the obvious, the PSO is a world class orchestra with world class conductors, and one major factor that differentiates a world class orchestra from, say, a non-world class orchestra is the sense of pulse. Each individual musician in a world class orchestra must individually, internally possess a strong musicians pulse and ultimately blend their individual pulses as one as an ensemble. I state this for the fact that the orchestra’s pulse, timing and balance was impeccable as they HAD to match the movie. For example, when the PSO accompanied Judy Garland in the beginning of the film with the famous “Over the Rainbow”, they had to match Garland and the conductor, no give or take exchange from Garland to the orchestra. In the common vocalist/orchestra piece, if the vocalist wants to hold a note or speed up, the conductor and orchestra so adjust. After Garland’s and the PSO’s performance of “Over the Rainbow”, I felt as though the whole auditorium should applaud wildly, but it would be against “audience etiquette”, just as it would be to applaud after the first movement of a concerto, or any part of the music before completion.

Movies without music…what would they be? Aside from a captivating and compelling story for a film, the music in my opinion is what makes it really happen. Music in films is what makes you understand the depth to the story, whether comedy or drama. The stories woven in music tell a story on its own. The film is just a visual aid, I think.

I must say, Bravo, Bravo to Maestro Loh, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the legendary composers of the Wizard of Oz film score, Herbert Stohart, and Harold Arlen (songs) for the transforming, beautiful, enjoyable music presented to the audiences that truly took me “Over the Rainbow”.

“Somewhere over the rainbow way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me.”

That “land…over the rainbow” for me, is Heinz Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, or precisely any place where music is presented in such a transforming manner. And that, is most definitely where you will find me.

So, Dorothy let me answer your question… “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why can’t I?” You can…with the ever transporting music with the PSO you’ll fly right over the rainbow. I have been the little bluebirds many times in Heinz Hall. Thank you, PSO.

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