While symphony representatives were not sure, Saturday may have been the first sold-out symphony performance since Van Cliburn played with the orchestra (twice) in the 1960’s.
“Pixar in Concert” clearly capped off an inspired season for the WFSO and points to a very bright 2018-19 season, and beyond, for the orchestra.
The Pixar show brought the talented WFSO musicians together with guest performers to play the soundtrack music to shortened versions of 14 Pixar animated films, which were shown on two 8-by-14 foot screens hung high above the orchestra.
Nine of those films had won Academy Awards for Best Animated Film. Two were nominated for Best Picture: “Up” and “Toy Story 3.”
Fouad Fakhouri, WFSO conductor and music director, faced his musical score, a smaller video screen showing the Pixar films and his musicians (in that order) to bring together the flowing, dynamic and eclectic music with the colorful and often striking moving images.
Whether audience members knew the movies or not, and most kids and their younger parents clearly did, the visual sections were smartly edited to convey the story or an important part of the storyline.
“Toy Story” was very playful and whimsical with an appropriate sense of awe when things “got real.” The live music did more than simply track visual movement, it gave the montage of colorful images a life-like sense of drama.
The curated sounds of live musical instruments performing in the auditorium were that powerful.
From time to time, Fakhouri turned to the audience and very helpfully asked them to listen to a particular instrument, such as the English horn as it related to the lead character in Thomas Newman’s piece for “Wall-E.”
That said, there were very few dry eyes after the bittersweet ending of the beautiful “Up.”
At the beginning of the second act, the conductor pointed to the next symphony season when he mentioned the James Bond-like musical similarities of Giacchino’s “The Incredibles” and “Cars 2” and then said the January 26, 2019 “WFSO does Hollywood” program will include Bond music.
Newman’s “Monsters, Inc.” featured someone brilliantly wailing on a saxophone, with a stylish jazz feel throughout.
The program finished strongly with the touching “Toy Story 3” (Newman); the adventurous, dramatic and intense “Brave” (which the music seamlessly fused with to bring to life); and a smartly fitting finale, “Monster’s University” (Newman).
Following a standing ovation by the crowd, which featured a refreshing number of children in attendance, the orchestra played an encore to a montage of Pixar films.
It was a memorable season-ending performance on a night when the Cirque Italia and Cowboy True were playing not far from around the corner.
The WFSO released its schedule for its 2018-19 season in the program.