Picnics, and costumes, and children — oh my!
Almost exactly 75 years after “The Wizard of Oz” debuted in theaters, the Tanglewood grounds surrounding the Koussevitzky Music Shed were transformed into a land of Berkshires-meets-Oz for the Boston Pops’ Aug. 22 performance of “Oz with Orchestra.”
Families arrived at the Lenox music venue toting lawn chairs, blankets, coolers, and best of all, sporting “Wizard of Oz”-themed costumes to take in the Pops’ live performance of the movie’s soundtrack while the Judy Garland film played on several screens in and around the shed.
Keith Lockhart, who conducted the same program at Symphony Hall May 10th and 11th, was at the helm for Friday evening’s Pops performance.
The orchestra’s precise matching of the film’s original score, which was composed by Harold Arlen and arranged by Herbert Stothart (with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg), made it easy to forget we the soundtrack was being performed live.
It was in the film’s most pivotal moments that the Pops made themselves known. Imagine the Wicked Witch of the West arriving via broom (above) in search of her sister’s killer after Dorothy’s house takes out the Wicked With of the East. Now imagine the ominous drums live — pure magic!
The tracking and audio-synching were nearly flawless, save for the moment when Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion emerge from the forest and begin their journey through the bewitched poppies. In that moment, it seemed as though the levels from the characters’ voices were elevated far beyond the norm, but it was remedied almost instantly.
Seeing one of the world’s most treasured films in a setting like “Oz with Orchestra” begs the question: Which other films would be successful with the live accompaniment of an orchestra?
If the fans of Tanglewood were as enamored with the show as I was, I’m willing to guess the 2015 Pops season will include another full-length feature film’s score.
If that’s the case, hopefully next year the weather will hold out. Friday night was drizzly and damp with a fall-like chill in the air that meant sweatshirts, jackets, socks, and shoes were more appropriate than the summer wear we’ve been used to.
If you’re planning a trip to the Berkshires before summer’s end and are looking for a Tanglewood show to take in, Train (Aug. 29), Josh Groban (Aug. 30), and Tony Bennett (Aug. 31) will round out the August schedule.