Hellooo Houston! This weekend, the Houston Symphony Orchestra teams up with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Mickey Mouse) at Jones Hall for the ultimate pairing of live music and the moving image. The orchestra, led by conductor Steven Reineke, will play selections from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 while the movies play on the big screen. With performances on Friday (8pm), Saturday (8pm), and Sunday (2:30pm), there are three chances to check out what is sure to be a great show. Tickets here.
I’m a huge fan of Fantasia, Fantasia 2000, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, so this is a very exciting event. While I had seen bits and pieces of Fantasia growing up — mainly the most iconic of them, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice — it wasn’t until a family vacation to New York City in March of 2000 that I truly experienced a Fantasia film. It was Fantasia 2000 and that screening at the Loew’s Theatres IMAX in Lincoln Square lives in my memory as one of those magical movie moments.
I was an 18 year old film fanatic who came to love New York City thanks to its presence in cinema and hip hop music. The Big Apple is the backdrop for so many great movies, shows, and albums over the years and I was compelled by a great lot of them; Scorsese’s New York, Spike Lee’s New York, Woody Allen’s New York, Sidney Lumet’s, Jerry Seinfeld’s, Mobb Deep’s, Big L’s… I could go on and on. Here I was, for the first time in my life, checking out the ‘city that never sleeps,’ watching a movie on the biggest screen I’d ever seen, in a theater with astonishingly good sound quality. I enjoyed every bit of Fantasia 2000, and while it wasn’t the sole catalyst of my passion for Baroque and Classical music, it certainly fanned the flames. It absolutely is responsible for my longtime love affair with the musical compositions of George Gershwin. The NYC-themed segment to ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ felt like kismet.
I had probably heard bits and pieces of Gershwin’s most popular piece before — most likely in airline commercials or Olympic coverage — but never the whole way through. The jazzy piano and horns really captured the feeling of the city and the Al Hirschfeld-inspired caricatures in the cool blue, grey, and purple color palette told a fun story in a stylish way. I now had a tune that was intrinsically linked to my first trip to New York City. Nowadays, nearly 18 years later, all it takes is a few bars of that song and I’m right back in NYC; a young man checking out the big city. It’s a lovely thing.
There’s no guarantee that Rhapsody in Blue will be performed at Jones Hall this weekend. While it is a personal favorite, the Fantasia catalogue is chock full of classics from some of the greatest composers of all-time. Walt Disney wanted to assemble the finest music in the history of the world and the 1940 film features Bach (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor), Beethoven (The Pastoral Symphony), Stravinksy (Rite of Spring), Tchaikovsky (Nutcracker Suite), Mussorgsky (Night on Bald Mountain), Ponchielli (Dance of the Hours), Shubert (Ave Maria) and Paul Dukas (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). Famed conductor Leopold Stokowski leads the orchestra and doubles as the master of ceremonies, introducing segments and providing insight on their creation. Fun fact: from 1955-1961 Stokowski was the Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Fantasia 2000 featured more Beethoven (Symphony No. 5) and Stravinsky (Firebird Suite), and brought in Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 2), Respighi (Pines of Rome), Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance), Camille Saint-Saëns (The Carnival of Animals), and Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue). It also brought back Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Don’t miss your chance to hear a selection of these beautiful compositions played by the talented members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in an ideal setting with matching visuals from Disney’s Golden Age of animation.
Tickets available here.
Have a great weekend!
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