The music in decades of Disney movies has made its own identity, at least as big as their storied characters.
That’s why the Long Bay Symphony Pops Orchestra will present a summer production, “Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies,” at 7 p.m. Sunday at Myrtle Beach High School, with a children’s carnival at 5 p.m. to lead the evening.
Ted Ricketts, founded of Symphony Pops Music in Santa Rosa, Calif., spent 24 years as music director and producer for Walt Disney World in Florida. He said his company is finishing its third season of producing this concert around the world, especially across the United States and Canada.
He said working with such groups as the National Symphony Orchestra – which plays at the annual National Memorial Day and Fourth of July concerts that air on PBS – San Francisco Symphony and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, “kind of the who’s who of pops orchestras,” this concert has “gotten around,” to places such as Taiwan, and Dublin, Ireland.
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“That’s the one thing about putting on a show like ‘Disney in Concert,’ ” Ricketts said. “Pretty much, there’s not in anywhere in the world where people don’t know Disney music.”
He said the children, as well as their parents and grandparents remembering growing up with such movies as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins” and their trademark scores, who attend these concerts each have a connection with the melodies.
“We’ve had great fun” putting on concerts to get whole families to come out, Ricketts said.
“A goal of our company is to attract younger people to see and hear an orchestra,” he said.
Most soundtracks for Disney movies, including “Aladdin,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Little Mermaid” were recorded with orchestras, Ricketts said.
“It’s fun to relive some of your Disney experiences through your kids,” he said, and “relive it in a different way.”
Concerts have been mounted for all-adult gatherings “and a whole bunch of families,” he said.
“It works either way,” Ricketts said, “because people still have that connection.”
Four singers – two men and two women – tour to join the symphonies for this concert, he said, and they rehearse with each host ensemble on the day of the event, but the music is relayed a few weeks earlier so the principal players have time for a head start on mastering the material.
Adding more memories
Charles Jones Evans, Long Bay’s longtime music director/conductor, said arranging “Disney in Concert” takes the symphony into a new sphere, with a “production that has been well received and very, very successful” elsewhere.
“Part of what we’re trying to do,” he said, “is offering what other orchestras across the country are doing.”
Evans said Long Bay has coordinated concerts with themes such as “jazz, beach music and silent films,” and adding this chapter to its repertoire in its second quarter-century of music reminds the Grand Strand of efforts to branch out in variety even more.
“The real magic of Disney,” he said, remains its continued appeal “across generations.”
This show, Evans said, covers everything for “people who grew up with ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ all through Disney hits today, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.
Bringing this music to the stage, he said, lets everyone have and relive memories “to carry with it.”
Jones said he and Long Bay colleagues have been at work “making logistical plans” for the concert, so two large video screens will flank the stage, so the sequences will link the music with movie characters for an extended appreciation of Disney classics. So for instance, look for images Ariel during “The Little Mermaid” suite.
This helps re-create the story and experience, adding some imagination with the singers’ sound and visual recaps, Evans said, because “the music is one thing.”
Drawn by Disney classics, Evans named “Mary Poppins” as his favorite, “with such incredible tunes,” and “dancing so unbelievable” by Dick Van Dyke.
Among more recent fare, “Colors of the Wind,” from “Pocahontas” and a hit single in 1995 by Vanessa Williams, also captivates Evans’ ears.
Still, he’s keen to tout Disney’s timeless blockbusters, “especially because a lot of the younger folks don’t know them.”
“We always have to remind them,” he said, ready to give “Mary Poppins” and the like more limelight.