American film score composer Don Davis led the orchestra in his greatest work: the soundtrack to "The Matrix."
When I think of the words “symphony orchestra,” I first envision an audience that doesn’t use Facebook and could be filmed for comical reactions while listening to dubstep. I see monocles. I see sparkly black dresses. I hear Beethoven. I feel fancy.
What do I not see, hear or feel? I don’t think of kung fu. I don’t see machine guns. I don’t feel violent. I certainly don’t see shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes. And yet — I thought, saw and felt all of these things last Saturday during the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) performance of "The Matrix Live."
Earlier in the year, ASO Music Director and Distinguished Artist in Residence Robert Spano spoke to my sociology class about how the orchestra was playing with visual imagery during performances. He told the story of the orchestra’s first attempt to use a big screen. The result was a mess. People walked out. Hate mail poured into the mailboxes. The experience, in total, was a lesson, but if Saturday’s performance was any indication, the orchestra has learned a great deal since.
To a near-packed house that ran the gamut of grandfathers to angsty teenagers, American film score composer Don Davis led the orchestra in his greatest work: the soundtrack to "The Matrix." Above the stage, a large screen played the sci-fi movie from beginning to end.
By my ears, the performance was superb. The synchronization and delivery were so spot-on that I often forgot an orchestra was even playing. It were as if I were simply watching the movie with the volume cranked up. The orchestra kept pace with the action film and often upped the intensity to a level I didn’t think "The Matrix" could go.
While his role was small, fifteen-year-old vocalist Ruben Roy occasionally stepped up to fill the hall with an airy, near-angelic falsetto that reminded me of The Choirboys, a trio of cathedral choristers with pipes so clean and so fresh that even Outkast would be jealous.
This was my first time at the ASO, and I imagine the same can be said for many others that night. That the orchestra would put on a performance aimed at a different crowd than the, I imagine, usual patrons is exciting on a number of levels. The move shows dexterity, but also just plain, good business sense.
To appeal to a generation hooked on Twitter — my generation — is a move that’s bound to break a number of misconceptions about what a night at the symphony means and can be. It’s not all Vivaldi and Chopin. Sometimes it can be Neo and Morpheus.