Review: Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs music from Tim Burton films

(By: Hilary Punchard)

We grew up in a generation filled with Tim Burton films; personally I recall the first time watching Edward Scissorhands, being so confused why no one would want to be friends with a walking swiss army knife. Sufficient to say, Danny Elfman’s music needed to performed at a degree worthy of his work. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra exceeded my expectations.


The stage before the show of Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton (Photo credit: Hilary Punchard)

The performance space was different than a typical symphony. A large projector screen hung over the stage, the orchestra sitting underneath it. The room was dark aside from the lights shinning over the players. From blues to reds, the colours changed to match the mood of Elfman’s music.

You’ve never fully experienced Burton’s work until you’ve watched a symphony perform it. The live music gave a second level to Burton’s films. Typically, when watching one of his movies you tend to focus on the costumes and the animation. To be able to clearly hear Elfman’s music and see the symphony behind it all, more depth was brought to the films.

With movies such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Corpse Bride”, “Beetlejuice” and “Batman”; this symphony covered most of Burton’s cinematic accomplishments.

The most notable part of the symphony was how Burton’s films were shown. For each movie, Burton’s original watercolours and sketches rolled onto the screen before showing small clips of the film. However, portions of the reel were left to a simple black and white optical illusion. This allowed the viewer to simply focus on the music, without a visual to distract.

The atmosphere that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra created was thoroughly delightful. Popcorn was offered at the concession stand, the smell filling the hall and giving it a homey sense. The event felt less like a traditional Tchaikovsky or Beethoven, but more like a home movie; complete with the conductor Ted Sperling making the audience sing Happy Birthday to, one of the younger sopranos Nicholas Mochocki.

Overall, the structure of this symphony was exceptionally pleasing. It was an event for the music lover and the film fanatic. I will definitely be looking out for more symphony renditions of films at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the future.


The crowd at the symphony for Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton (Photo credit: Hilary Punchard)



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