When Paul Daniel first arrived at the helm of the WA Symphony Orchestra one of his goals was for the orchestra to perform at different venues to a broader audience. It’s hard to imagine this happening more successfully than the concert on Saturday night at the Convention Centre. A live performance of the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean attracted over 2000 children, couples, families and the odd pirate.
Grammy-award winning American conductor Richard Kaufman introduced The Curse of the Black Pearl and all eyes were on the orchestra and chorus seated beneath a huge movie screen. Ominous chords rumbled in the low strings and brass and suddenly a ship loomed above the orchestra. Within moments the audience was caught up in the rip-roaring adventure of Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and the infamous Jack Sparrow. It was like being in a huge cinema but with waves of energised music rolling from the stage.
Witnessing the soundtrack performed live was a reminder of how integral music is to film; the orchestra played with barely a moment to pause and their presence gave a heightened urgency to the drama. When Jack Sparrow was arrested after rescuing Elizabeth from drowning the orchestra paused for some dialogue before launching a sudden bass chord as Jack threw his shackled hands around Elizabeth’s neck to kidnap her. The 30-piece men’s chorus began to chant and the strings joined the fray as Jack made his escape.
Kaufman adeptly coordinated orchestra, chorus and screen action with the help of a click track and podium monitor. It was fascinating to trace a sound to its source, for example the ‘Medallion Calls’ horn theme, or the multiple percussive effects, and the electronic sounds generated by keyboard player Adam Pinto.
Often the music overwhelmed the dialogue, particularly in the battle scenes. But when the orchestra broke through the cinematic trance it was a reminder of the luxury of experiencing a full symphonic orchestra.
When the end credits rolled up the theatre resounded with cheers from a delighted audience. As Jack Sparrow said, “I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place: spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically…”
This was the first of two live movie screenings planned for the 2013 season by Evan Kennea and the artistic planning team. The orchestra will perform The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in June.
This article copyright The West Australian 2013.