We caught up with Simon as he prepares to conduct the Disney Concert Orchestra for Pixar in Concert at the Eden Project on Saturday 5 July. Set against the beautiful backdrop of our Biomes, the orchestra will perform music from Disney Pixar films in front of a giant screen displaying clips of the movies. This will be the only performance of the show in the UK this summer. Find out more and buy tickets online here.
Why is the conductor so important to the orchestra?
Because an orchestra will have 70 opinions about how a piece of music should be played. One person, the conductor, gathers these opinions, adds his own and becomes the arbiter of the final result. He is a sort of musical traffic cop!
For someone who’s never seen a full concert orchestra perform, describe what it’s like…
The difference between watching an orchestra perform live as opposed to listening to a CD or iPod is the experience of actually seeing and hearing what all the orchestral instruments look like and sound like. There is also a certain majesty to 70 people playing the same piece of music, which is part of the live experience. There is nothing else like it.
What, in particular, are you looking forward to about playing at Eden?
I have never been to Eden before so I am very excited to go. My whole family has been so I am the last. I am sure it will be an amazing setting for this concert.
How does Eden compare to other venues you’ve played in?
Outdoor venues are always challenging which makes them more exciting. I am sure Eden will be no exception. If you haven’t experienced an outdoor concert then you are in for a real treat. The atmosphere is always very special.
What’s your favourite Pixar movie?
That is a very hard question to answer but I think I have to say Wall’E. I am also very partial to The Incredibles. I was fortunate enough to conduct part of the score with the BBC Concert Orchestra and it was a tremendous experience.
Which Pixar character do you think would be the best musician?
I think Woody from Toy Story would be a good musician. He is so charming, very organised and inspirational. Maybe, with a name like that, he would play the clarinet!
Which is your favourite part of the Pixar in Concert show?
I am very much looking forward to conducting The Incredibles. I just love it’s supremely ‘jazzy’ but contemporary score.
How important is a good score to the emotional resonance of a film?
Music conveys the psychology of the drama. Whilst a character is saying one thing, the music can describe what he is thinking or feeling. This applies to all films, not just animations. For example, the last fifteen minutes of ET has about four lines of dialogue. The story, mood, emotions, atmosphere are all conveyed by the music. Audiences are taken on an incredible emotional journey. That is the magic of film music.
How do you think the audience will feel when they see Pixar in Concert at Eden?
To see your favourite animation characters on the screen, enhanced by the presence of a 70 piece orchestra, will hopefully be an experience that will only make you love them more. The Pixar movies appeal to every generation and this will be a fabulous event for the entire family. What a great way to introduce your children to live music!
Don’t miss Pixar in Concert at the Eden Project on Saturday 5 July. Find out more and buy tickets online here.