If you look around you’ll notice a steady increase of motion pictures screening in concert halls with its score performed live to picture. This is an insanely exciting trend allowing audiences a unique aural and visual experience while elevating this unique art form to the masses. These concerts typically sell out rather quickly. They’ve become a “golden goose” for orchestras and ensembles around the world that are generally struggling during a time of great uncertainty in classical music.
In the past several years, I’ve personally attended live score presentations of Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) performed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra (with Michael Giacchino in attendance), and Jurassic Park (1993) performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. I had my doubts heading into each of these shows. Would the orchestra be a distraction? Would the film be a distraction? How well would these incredibly difficult scores be performed? To my delight, all of the performances I’ve attended blew me away. It was an explosion of film and live music combined together to form this wonderful immersive experience that I hope continues to gain popularity in the years to come.
Other films that are currently making live performance tours include Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Back to the Future (1985), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Apollo 13 (1995) Jaws (1975) the Harry Potter (2001-2011) and Star Wars (1977-1983) film series, and The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), to name a few. These are no-brainer big-ticket concerts that are sure to do gangbusters for their respective orchestras.
What really excites me however, are the slew of smaller independent and cult films that are piggybacking on the popularity of these larger franchises to find live concert performances of their own. In recent years Joseph LoDuca has performed his newly revamped score for The Evil Dead (1981) and performed it live to picture. Jonny Greenwood’s Academy Award nominated score for The Phantom Thread (2017) has been given the live-to-picture presentation and the Oscar-winning film Moonlight (2016) as well. Films from the silent era (1894-1929) are even seeing an increase in popularity as groups like the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Dallas Chamber Symphony routinely present newly commissioned scores performed live to picture to packed concert halls.
The latest underground cult score to hit theaters is the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988). Composer John Massari will be conducting the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, May 19th, 2018, at 8:00 pm, at the Montalban Theater in Los Angeles, California. There will be a Q&A with The Chiodo Brothers, John Massari, and cast members Grant Cramer (Mike Tobacco) and Suzanne Snyder (Debbie Stone). Members of the punk-rock band The Dickies will also be on hand to perform their classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space theme song.
If you asked anybody who worked on Killer Klowns From Outer Space if they could ever have imagined a pomp-and-circumstance celebration like this thirty years ago, I’m betting they’ll admit they could not. It’s so cool to see a beloved cult film like this get the royal treatment as fans and admirers come together to celebrate it in this loving manner. It’s also a great way to recruit new fans, keep the legacy alive and pave the way for more live-to-picture score performances.
“For 30 years, love and loyalty from fans the world over made this extraordinary movie a beloved cult classic,” said Massari. “This event is our way to celebrate Killer Klowns From Outer Space directly with these fans.”
Many are asking if this live-to-picture fad is fleeting and will bust before too long. I’m not so sure. As it stands right now, audiences are growing, reviews are glowing, and there’s just no sign that this is slowing down anytime soon. I could see the market getting over-flooded and I also worry that it takes away from the commitment these ensembles have to classical music; however, if it helps them stay afloat while helping elevate the art forms of Beethoven, Herrmann, Brahms, Williams, Mahler, or Elfman, then I’m in complete support and will do what I can to patronize these performances.
For more information including ticket prices and availability click here.