Pixar in Concert: A Feast for the Ears

About a month ago, I was in Seattle visiting family and friends, when I received a text from my mom asking if I’d heard about the Pixar symphony. By the time I responded with “no,” they had already bought tickets. We were very excited to go! We dressed up, and it was a beautiful day in San Francisco. The concert hall was gorgeous, and they even had a pianist there playing, what else, Pixar hits. We arrived at our seats, which were in the last row, and I mean, THE last row. However, it was a great view, as we could see the screen, and most of the orchestra.

Now, I believe that Pixar creates visually astounding movies, and most people overlook the music composition. But wow, this was just as appealing for the ears as their films are visually stunning! Even when the orchestra played the Pixar intro, my eyes filled with tears. The set started off with Toy Story, and for each film score, coinciding clips played on the screen above the orchestra. After Toy Story, Pete Docter, director of Monsters Inc. and Up, came onto the stage to introduce the performance, the orchestra and special members, as well as Michael Giacchino, who happened to be in the audience. Each time Pete came out, he’d say, “did I mention Michael Giacchino is here today?” Pete was a funny guy, and he’d give us tidbits about the musicians, the scores or other facts. He mentioned that for some animators, it takes them a week to create four seconds of the movie. While with the music, they can record anywhere from seven to fifteen minutes of the score. It takes up to about two weeks to completely record the score and soundtrack. Another interesting fact, is that the composers of the film don’t even start writing until the movie is completed, or at least almost completed. The music is literally the last thing that is accomplished before we get to see the films. In addition to Pete and Michael being there, George Doering, who played guitar on the Finding Nemo soundtrack, was there to play. Listen for his guitar solo during the EAC sequence. Also there to play, was Tom Scott on saxophone, who does the solo in the Monsters Inc. intro.

They covered all thirteen of their film scores, just not in order by which the movies came out, however, the arrangement they had was perfect. The music was absolutely incredible! It was as if we were in the studio with them as the recorded the scores for each film. There was also a great balance of tempos. There were plenty of upbeat moments, as well as a fair share of the calm and emotional. Some moments especially stuck out, for instance, when they played from the scene in Cars, where Lightning and Sally are on their drive and approaching the falls. You know which part I’m talking about, especially if you’ve been on Radiator Springs Racers. Right before the intermission, they did Up, showing almost the entire sequence of Carl and Ellie’s relationship on the screen. Once that ended, and the applause died down, you could hear people sniffling all throughout the hall. Of course they would do that right before the intermission.

While Act One was wonderful, Act Two had so much gusto! It had The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Cars 2, Brave, and Toy Story 3. I loved the Brave score, and they had a musician come play the uillean pipes, which is an instrument similar to bagpipes, what they used in the film. They ended with Toy Story 3, and of course tugged at everyones heartstrings by playing the fire sequence, and of course, with the tearjerker of all tearjerkers, the very end. If I hadn’t been emotional enough already with half of the music, I was definitely crying during Toy Story 3 (I cry every time I see that movie anyway). And, in typical concert fashion, they did an encore, which was “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” which was a very fun sendoff.

It was an absolutely incredible performance of an amazing set of scores from some all-time favorite films. Pixar continues to create masterpieces in film and music, and the symphony was able to capture the essence of everything Pixar embodies. Try to catch it if you can when they play the Hollywood Bowl this next weekend, August 3-5. It was definitely the performance of a lifetime, and I will never forget it!


Follow Caitlyn on twitter: @CaitlynNoel

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