Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Disney’s Fantasia in Concert – Live Review

82 years ago, the original Disney’s Fantasia took to the big screen as Disney’s boldest experiment, combining animation with classical music.

With music by Beethoven, Bach, and Tchaikovsky to name a few, this feature animation went on to grace the households and families of many, introducing children to classical music that they otherwise would not listen to. 59 years after, the concept of Fantasia was brought back again, this time with Fantasia 2000.

Moving forward another 23 years, after several lockdowns over 2 years, 4 reschedules, and a bit of a late start due to some challenges with parking etc., Disney’s Fantasia in Concert finally took to the stage this weekend at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre’s Plenary with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Northey.

Unlike past film themed concerts, Disney’s Fantasia in Concert does not showcase the film to music from start to finish. Instead, the set is sprinkled with a combination of works in no particular order from both the original Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 films. With favourites such as the dancing mushrooms in Tchaikovski’s ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ and Duka’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice/L’apprenti sorcier’ making an appearance, the venue was filled with an overall mood of delight.

Many in the crowd were even witnessing a symphony orchestra for the first time, from keen adults to excited children and their parents taking the time to visit the orchestra pit pre-show and during interval. It was a wonderful sight to see, but especially when kids were vigorously waving at the musicians and looking on in both curiosity and awe at the different instruments before them.

Admittedly, while I had seen Disney’s Fantasia previously, I had not watched Fantasia 2000 before. So, when Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird Suite’ was performed, displaying themes of life, death, and renewal through nature with a majestic Elk, a magical Spring Sprite, and an ominous Firebird, I was witnessing this for the first time and was completely surprised how moved I was by the performance. Seriously, I was fine and the next thing I knew – I was crying.

Unfortunately, not every piece from Fantasia is shown at the concert (there are so many to choose from), and to my disappointment the iconic ‘Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria’ was not included, which is a shame considering it is one of the most popular works from Disney’s Fantasia. Despite this, the audience were still very satisfied with what was performed.

Although it had been a long time coming, the wait for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to finally perform Disney’s Fantasia in Concert was worth it. These concerts that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra put on are an integral part of art and culture in Victoria, and we are so very lucky to have the MSO in our city.

Not only is attending an enriching experience, but the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra now have fun photobooths available for these pop-culture concerts prior to the show and during interval. For this performance, there were two Fantasia themed free photo booths available where you can either have a small clip of you conjuring magic, but you could also take a happy snap in Mickey Mouse’s iconic sorcerer hat. The best part is, it is so easy to have the photo sent to you, so that you can upload it to your socials and share it with your friends. I now always look forward to seeing these photo booths whenever I see the MSO in concert because I feel it further enhances the fun experience for both patrons and fans alike.

I personally fell in love with classical music from watching Disney’s Fantasia as a kid, and I can only imagine how inspired the children in the audience were after the concert had ended. And who knows? A child from this audience may very well be part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra one day.

Disney’s Fantasia in Concert was performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at The Plenary, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre at 2pm on Saturday the 9th of April. Unfortunately, this was a one-off concert, however, if you would like to learn more information and find out ticketing for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s future events, visit:
https://www.mso.com.au

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