Review: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra: ‘Home Alone In Concert’ (December 2, 2017)

Ever since Home Alone appeared, it has held a unique place in the affections of a very broad public. Director Chris Columbus brought a uniquely fresh and innocent approach to this delightful story, and the film has deservedly become a perennial at holiday time.

In a career spanning five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage, and he remains one of North America’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices. He has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including all eight Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, and The Book Thief. His 45-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, and Lincoln.

His contributions to television music include scores for more than 200 television films. Mr. Williams has also composed themes for four Olympic Games. He served as music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra for 14 seasons and remains their Laureate Conductor. He has composed numerous works for the concert stage including two symphonies, and concertos commissioned by many of America’s most prominent orchestras.

Mr. Williams has received five Academy Awards Rand 50 Oscar nominations (making him the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars), seven British Academy Awards, 23 GRAMMYR Awards, four Golden Globes, and five Emmys. In 2003, he received the Olympic Order (the IOC’s highest honour) for his contributions to the Olympic movement. In 2004, he received the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2009 he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US Government.

In 2016, he received the 44th Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute—he first time a composer was honoured with this award. John Williams, composer

Constantine Kitsopoulos: Conductor

Constantine Kitsopoulos made his TSO début in October 2015. Constantine Kitsopoulos has made a name for himself as a conductor whose musical experiences comfortably span the worlds of opera, symphony, musical theatre, and film with live orchestra. He regularly conducts in such venues as Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, and Royal Albert Hall, and has served as music director/conductor for musical theatre productions on Broadway.

The 2017/18 season marks Kitsopoulos’s eighth as Music Director of the Festival of the Arts BOCA where he has worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Chang, the Russian National Orchestra, and many others. He was artistic director of the OK Mozart Festival from 2013 to 2015, and spent eight years as music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra. Kitsopoulos founded Chatham Opera in 2005 and has recently become General Director of the New York Grand Opera. With those two companies, he is developing a series of semi-staged opera productions to be presented in the summer of 2019.

Highlights of recent seasons include appearances with the New York Philharmonic; the Baltimore, Colorado, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Toledo, San Antonio, and San

Francisco symphony orchestras; and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and The New York Pops. Also much in demand as a theatre conductor, both on Broadway and nationwide, Kitsopoulos has been music director and conductor of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway and of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess—the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical revival featuring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis that ran until September 2012. He is co-composer of a new music theatre piece called Temple, based on the life of Temple Grandin, and is in the process of composing a new opera, with a libretto by Evangelia Kingsley, entitled Holy Week.  Kitsopoulos studied conducting with Gustav Meier, Sergiu Comissiona, Semyon Bychkov, and his principal teacher, Vincent La Selva.

The Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir made its TSO début in November 2008. The Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus for this concert is comprised of the Grades 10 and 11 music theatre classes at the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA). The music theatre department, headed by Patricia Warnock, is one of six majors offered at ESA, which is the oldest free standing arts-focused high school in Canada. In the music theatre program, students are involved in intensive “triple threat” training, and gain experience and instruction in voice, drama, dance, and theoretical studies. Every year in the senior grades, they hone their craft with a full-scale musical, in addition to showcase performances. Students from this chorus are also involved in a number of extracurricular ensembles, including SPLASH, ESA’s award-winning show choir; and MusicFest national invitees Chamber Choir, JAMME, and WOCO. This year’s chorus is led by Patricia Warnock with rehearsal accompanist Michael Vieira.

HomeAloneImage2-1990TwentiethCenturyFox

Review:

What a tremendous night to start off the holiday season with the musical score of ‘Home Alone In Concert’, conducted by the incomparable Constantine Kitsopoulos, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir. If you were channelling Scrooge when you entered Roy Thomson Hall – that feeling soon left your body.

We might not have a snowy scene outside in the City of Toronto, but the audience was gifted with a well needed laugh amplified with the help of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the undercurrent of holiday music. The fun piece about ‘Home Alone’s’ holiday music is that it is such an ode to holiday classics that never fade and instantly make you feel good.

The audience was a wonderful mix of children, young couples and adults. The Toronto Symphony hosted such a warm and wonderful afternoon with a huge scene to watch ‘Home Alone’ on, yummy snacks for all and drinks to keep your cheeks rosy.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra never fails in providing the emotion when marrying their work into these very successful film events. One can not help but dwell on their arrangement in between emotional scenes for example when Kevin is on his own and partying it up at home or when his mother is on transit back to him from Paris.  A truly joyous experience as we head into a busy holiday time when it comes to reflection.

With the addition of The Etobicoke School for the Arts Concert Choir, the youth provided an added lovely texture to the film. During the pivotal scene where Kevin speaks to Mr. Green in the church and their mutual loneliness, the audience was able to really feel the infusion of the holidays into our hearts.  Comfort and good tidings shone through the screen and the audience felt it in our pores as the youngsters sang their piece with so much glory with The Toronto Symphony Orchestra carrying the audience to the end of the film.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has some more amazing HOLIDAY programming in the weeks ahead. Be sure to gab tickets and get fully immersed in the holiday season.  I encourage you to check out their Messiah performances in the later part of December.

Happy Holidays!

www.tso.ca

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