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          SYMPHONY SILICON VALLEY’S
“FANTASIA”

An unequaled Auditory & Visual experience

By Iride Aparicio

Symphony Silicon VALLEY                    Foto Courtesy:  Symphony  S.V
     Symphony Silicon VALLEY                    Photo Courtesy:  Symphony  S.V

SAN JOSÉ, CA --  “FANTASIA,” (fantasy) is the name  of an American animated film, the third in the Disney animated features, that was  produced and released by WALT DISNEY'S PRODUCTIONS in l940. The full-length  film consisted of eight animated segments set to stories.  The film  was directed by JOE GRAN and DICK HUEMER under the supervision of BEN SHARPSTEIN. As an animated  film, “FANTASIA”  was different from other animated films because each one of  its stories was set to a piece of  classical music. In seven of its eight segments, the music was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI.

An article in Wikipedia states that “FANTASIA” came about as a full-length movie when DISNEY wanted to use the concept of adding classical music to "Silly Symphonies," an animated short he had designed as a come back role for  Mickey Mouse, that was losing its popularity at the time. So DISNEY made "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice," another short. to add to "Silly Symphonies." When the  production costs of  "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" soared,  DISNEY decided to include The "Sorcerer’s" film with other animated segments, that also were set to classical pieces, and created “FANTASIA.”  It is interesting to note here, that the sound track of these seven shorts was recorded using multiple audio channels and reproduced with a pioneering sound reproduction system called Fantasound, (which being fantastic, may have suggested to DISNEY to use “FANTASIA” as the name of his full length film.) When the film was first released on November 13, l940, its sound made it the  first film to ever use stereophonic sound.  

In  1998, the American Film Institute ranked “FANTASIA”  as the 58th greatest American film among their l00 movies, and their fifth greatest animated film. In the year  2000, ROY  E. DISNEY  (WALT ’S  nephew) co-produced “FANTASIA 2000” a sequel to the original one.  

FANTASIA POSTER

And that brings us to the present "DISNEY’S FANTASIA Live in Concert," and how Founder and General Director of Symphony Silicon Valley, Mr. ANDREW BALES, after seeing it in the East Coast, decided to reproduce the concept in San jose, using Symphony Silicon Valley.

Speaking  from the stage on opening night, Mr BALES explained to the audience  that the projected images from the movies that they were about to see, were going to shift slightly, because the nine segments to be presented, during the concert on that night, were taken from the two different versions of  “FANTASIA”;  the l940 version, and the one filmed in the year 2000 and each of the two versions was filmed to be projected in a different-size screen. Talking about what to expect from tonight's program, Mr. BALES said: “A Magical experience.” He was correct.

Disney’s FANTASIA Live in Concert”  with Symphony  Silicon Valley was something never seen or heard before. Presented for two nights  (February 14-15)  at the San José Center for the Performing Arts, it gave the audience a cultural form of entertainment. The program allowed adults and children to learn and listen, because the  film projected was animated, but showed a biblical story, the gods of Greek Mythology, Russian and Chinese dances, and Nature. On the auditory side,  all the melodies accompanying the actions of the animated characters were classical, and because the orchestra was sitting on the stage, the audience could hear and see the musicians playing their instruments.

Conductor SARAH HICKSConductor SARAH HICKS, (pictured left) standing in front of a music stand,  facing a monitor. conducted the  Symphony Silicon Valley’s Orchestra that on that night sounded majestic playing the music in perfect synchronization with the action projected on the screen.  The musical pieces played at the concert were:

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67  composed by LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN. (From Fantasia 200)
Symphony No. 6 in F major op. 68 (Pastoral)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
(From Fantasia 1940)
NUTCRACKER SUITE. Op. 71a (l892)
PYOTR ILYCH TCHAIKOSKY
(From Fantasia l940)
Clair de Lune”  (l890/l905)
CAUDE DEBUSSY
Fire bird Suite (l9l9 Version)
IGOR STRAVINSKY
(From Fantasia 2000)
Dance of  the Hours (from La Gioconda) (l876)
AMILCARE PONCHIELLI
(From Fantasia l940)
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (l896-97)
PAUL DUKAS
(From Fantasia l940)
Pomp and Circumstance
(Adapted by PETER SCHICKELE Military Marches op. 39. 1,2,3& 4) (l901 l907)
(From Fantasia 2000)
Pines of Rome (l924)
OTTORINO RESPIGHI
(From Fantasia 2000)

 

The movie segments accompanied by the music that were selected for the film, were creative. They represented the 4 elements: earth, air, fire and water. Giving prominence to air and water because birds gliding on the sky, bubbles floating on the air, leaves twirling in the wind and drops of rain, and sprinkling fountains,  look magic. Gold fish spinning their transparent long tails around themselves, and nymphs tip-toeing over the trees' leaves, or riding butterflys look so poetic that their actions can easily be represented with musical sounds.

And FANTASIA being a Disney’s animated feature, MICKEY MOUSE had to be part of it, and he was. In the role of a sorcerer’s apprentice, he did what he did, accompanied by the composer DUKAS Piece. Mischievous MICKEY casted the  wrong spell in a broom, to avoid carrying two buckets of water, and the problem was that when the broom filled the well, and the water started spilling, he broke the broom it in pieces thus multiplying it. By now, the amount of water being carried by the brooms was so much that the poor mouse almost drowned.

 MICKEY MOUSE APPRENTICE

In a more serious segment, BEETHOVEN’s music transported the audience to Olympus in Greece, making us laugh watching the inebriated DIONYSUS, the god of wine, carrying a bunch of grapes in his hand, riding a little burro and, after falling, sitting in the middle of  a wine river drinking. In the orchestra, the drums marked the fury of  ZEUS tossing Thunders. A burst of galloping sounds, the steps of the running Centaurus. The clash of tymbals announced the apparition of HELIOS, the sun god, riding his chariot. And lyrical sounds accompanied ARTEMIS the goddess of the Hunt, as  she shot her arrows in the sky and createdd the stars.

Mother Nature


And in one of the most beautiful segments of the night, Mother Nature, represented as  green young girl with a sad expression in her big brown eyes and wearing a long green cape that expands in the air as wings when she flies, transports us to a forest. By touching fire’s face, she starts a volcanic eruption, sets the forest on fire and almost drowns herself in a river.  But after being rescued by a deer, Mother Nature begins flying again, and when she flies, she touches the forest's charred trees and bring them back to life.

For those people that missed “DISNEY’S FANTASIA”  the opportunity to see another  movie accompanied by the orchestra of  Symphony Silicon Valley in a live music and film presentation, will be repeated again. This time in a greater scale with the presentation of the Trilogy of  THE LORD OF THE RINGSaccompanied by the  HOWARD SHORE’S  Award-Winning score played by  90 musicians, l60 singers and 3 chorales. The performances will be held on April 16 through 19 at San Jose Center for the performing Arts. Six performances of the individual films. Two complete cycles of the trilogy. For this never before experienced performance, one needs to order their tickets early  at www.symphonysiliconvalley.org.