Pittsburgh Symphony Pops to perform 'Wizard of Oz' score
You'd better believe Lawrence Loh is up for his next Heinz Hall concert series.
“This will be my first time accompanying Judy Garland,” he says. “When you hear her sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' it's hard to think of it going any other way.”
Loh will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops for the film “The Wizard of Oz” at concerts March 14 to 17 at Heinz Hall, Downtown. The orchestral portion of the soundtrack has been removed, leaving all the original singing, dialogue and sound effects.
The continuing relevance of “The Wizard of Oz,” which won Oscars for best song and best musical score in 1940, stakes out a singular place in the hearts of children — one that lasts a lifetime.
Loh first saw it as a child. Now it's a favorite of his children.
“I remember being very frightened by certain parts of it, but loving the songs, loving the music in general,” he says. “My kids have seen it too. The first time (for them) was in Broadway form when it came to Pittsburgh. They didn't have the same reaction that I did because they were in Heinz Hall and felt safe. Now when they watch it on TV, they already know the story. I think it was really fun for them. Hilary is 7, and she runs away when the witch is on, or the cyclone.”
The symphony has performed film music live with movies before. In 1994, conductor Michael Lankester coordinated with the Russian classic “Alexander Nevsky.” The orchestra will do it again next season when Sarah Hicks will conduct Leonard Bernstein's music for “West Side Story” with that film in March 2014.
Loh rewatched “The Wizard of Oz” to prepare for the concerts. When he received his study material, he found not only the score in two acts, but also a DVD with the film and a clock timer. While the audience will just see the film, he'll have screens with the film on one side and the clock on the other.
“I have reference timings on the music that will help me be in the right ballpark. I'm trying to treat the score as an organic music performance, but there are places where I have to be a little stringent or exact. You have to be right on the spot for the singing. If I know I have something particular at, say, 11:06, at 11:00, I can adjust by slowing down or speeding up to hit 11:06 exactly.”
Having studied Herbert Stothart's score of the film, Loh is in an almost unique position to assess the performance of the 1939 studio orchestra heard on the film.
“I think they play OK, but it's not like it's going to be with the PSO, every note beautifully performed. You can't always hear the orchestra very clearly on the film, but it deserves a great performance,” Loh says. “This performance will bring the orchestral component of the film to the foreground. You'll hear it like you never did before.”
Mark Kanny is the classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big names highlight Three Rivers Arts Festival’s 2015 musical lineup
- When does anticipated Record Store Day drop in Pittsburgh? This weekend
- Chamber Music Pittsburgh announces season
- Kanny: Honecks work classical magic
- Granati Brothers’ new album almost didn’t go anywhere
- Honeck brothers team up on Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra stage
- Highmark Stadium will host concerts this summer
- A&E notebooks: Pianist and composer will play at Wholey’s
- Performing for presidents or Pittsburghers, Franklin’s soul keeps shining