Tonight Erika and I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas shown with the Toronto Symphony playing the score live, conducted by Sarah Hicks at Roy Thomson Hall.
As with the 100 Years of Film Music concert we attended earlier this week, I’m seeking to connect the “pops” presentations to the TSO’s serious programs.
You sometimes hear musicologists remarking in program notes about the music for the Dies Irae (day of the dead) employed in classical compositions such as Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz, Totentanz by Franz Liszt….
Or Sergei Rachmaninoff in his Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini.
Tonight I noticed that Danny Elfman also uses it, in his filmscore to The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
Tim Burton wrote and directed this film. You might recall it for its beautiful live-animation imagery, perhaps ignoring it because it’s a children’s film. There are some superb voices employed in the film, beginning with composer Danny Elfman himself, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Sarandon and Paul Reubens.
While the film is less than 90 minutes long, its score is through-composed for every minute of the film. Offhand I can’t think of another film that does that.
Elfman’s usual sound is quite different from what we hear in most films, a melancholy reminiscent of a Gustav Mahler or a Kurt Weill, full of tunes in minor keys with shifting tonalities.
Hicks called us out in her introduction, getting us to admit that we’re there because we’ve seen this film before. Oh yes. I know I’ve seen it more than 10 times. Many in the audience know it so well that they’d applaud when we came to the ends of songs.
These TSO concert presentations of our favorite films can be quite magical.
I recall seeing Ratatouille with my grand-daughter over five years ago.
I remember Vertigo co-presented by TIFF complete with a Q & A by Kim Novak afterwards.
Back to the Future was the occasion when a stranger sitting beside me started talking about how much he loved this film, having made a pilgrimage all the way from Halifax to see it, his first ever live symphony concert.
No question, these presentations are bringing people to the symphony for the first time: including a four-year old sitting close to us in the balcony. There were several who were costumed for the occasion.
The TSO will be showing the film again Saturday night October 29th .