Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surround Sound

Would you believe it if I told you I've never seen West Side Story? Well, that's only half true; I saw it last night at the TSO. But until then, I hadn't seen it before. Despite this disadvantage and the advantage of pop culture and the media, I had already seen all the best pieces of West Side story stitched together from various sources like Family Guy and the Simpsons.

Tony & Maria in love <3
For those of you who are like me, the story is in essence your modern day Romeo & Juliet. Set in the 1950s, two rival gangs duke it out while two of their respective members fall passionately in love. It's an unlikely story but one that is romanticized beautifully so; to the point that I too am drawn in and believe their instant love for one another.

Now, I got the opportunity to finally get to know one of the greatest classical American love stories through the big screen in a live orchestral audience! That's right folks, not only did I get to watch the movie on a huge screen, I got to listen to an incredible live orchestra (the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) play the entire (including the trailer and credits) soundtrack. It was an incredible experience.

The Roy Thompson Hall is acoustically incredible as it is so you can only guess how amazing the sound was, for the movie! Sometimes when I go to the TSO, I get a little bored watching the orchestra and really, it's not terribly exciting all the time. It's really neat to watch the group play together and each section be responsible for their piece that alone, makes no sense but once put together, the whole thing just transforms into something wonderful. But, sometimes... that's not that interesting. So, it was a welcome change to watch the screen and just be pulled into the story with the incredible soundtrack enveloping you.

There was a great rendition of America on Glee!

The neatest thing was how the conductor was conducting! First, this movie is ~2.5 hours and standing isn't going to happen. Next, how did he know when he was supposed to play? It's not like he and the singers could coordinate by communicating with one another. He was at the mercy of the video as it was. He was seated at the podium with a small screen which simultaneously played the movie but when there was musical score, there were these flashes and bars that would travel across the screen--as if prompting him about where they were, in the score!

Needless to say, not only was the opportunity to watch an American classic while being bathed in music but seeing the coordination of the conductor with the movie and the players was truly an inspiring feat!

Amber and I were chatting about it and we hope that the TSO takes their nearly full house as a sign to do more of these types! Can you imagine if they did Star Trek or Rent?


  1. If they do Star Trek or Rent we are SO THERE!!!

    Awesome post! Loved your description of the conductor :-)

    1. totally! i can't wait until they do more of these :D

  2. oh cool, i didn't know the conductor sat down. i wonder how many times he must have seen that movie by now...

    1. i wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't too many times... i mean there have been evenings that the orchestra practiced with the conductor just that afternoon and then off they go! as long as he understands how to 'read' the screen, then i think it would be no different than another day on the job :)