A Musical Trip to Oz

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All right, you’ve seen “Wicked” and gotten a different take on the Oz story – now the Pacific Symphony is offering you a different take on the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” featuring Judy Garland’s original 1939 studio recordings and the symphony plahing the film’s score live.

Led by Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, this symphonic night at the movies returns after a popular 2008 Summer Festival performance at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, but this time the score will be heard in the pristine acoustics of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The Pacific Symphony is offering a new way to visit Dorothy and her friends next weekend, as it will play the score live while showing the film on a giant screen in the Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The audience is invited to come dressed in character, follow a yellow-brick road through the lobby, and sing along to the award-winning songs such as “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “If I Only had a Brain,” “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” “The Lollipop Guild,” and of course, “Over the Rainbow.”

“People of all ages love a great story, and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is just that,” says

Kaufman. “We are taken on an adventure with Dorothy that captures our imagination in so many exciting ways. It is not only a movie with a wonderful plot, but it touches our hearts as well.”

Kaufman adds, “My favorite character is probably the Cowardly Lion … because he has red hair and so do I. He has more.”

The immortal songs of “The Wizard of Oz,” were composed by Harold Arlen written to lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, with “Over the Rainbow” winning the Academy Award for Best Song and entering the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1981. Herbert Stothart took the Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film..

“The music for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was originally recorded in mono, which made it a bit one-dimensional when heard in that ‘ancient’ sound,” says Kaufman. “When the score is played live, along with the original dialogue and sound effects, the music becomes almost three-dimensional and the audience hears things in the music (instruments, counter-melodies, etc.) that they’ve never heard before.

“The score must be synchronized exactly with the dialogue, singing and action in the film. This is done to a 10th of a second, making it a very precise and challenging project.  Not only must the players capture the excitement and musicality in the score, but they must also be exactly with the conductor. There is no better orchestra to do this than Pacific Symphony, especially since many members also work in the recording studios of Hollywood, playing on motion picture and television scores.”

No stranger to motion pictures himself, Kaufman is a 26-year veteran of the industry, having joined MGM studios as music coordinator in 1984 and subsequently overseeing all television projects. While with MGM, he received two Emmy Award nominations, one as music director for the animated series “The Pink Panther,” and another as co-author of Outstanding Original Song for the series “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”

As a session violinist, Kaufman has performed on numerous film and television  scores including “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Animal House.”

In addition to celebrating his 20th season as principal pops conductor with Pacific Symphony this year, Kaufman also regularly performs classic and contemporary film music as guest conductor with orchestras across the country.

“The Wizard of Oz” will be screened and performed April 7-9, at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $25-160; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.


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