Pa. Philharmonic to bring ‘Disney Fantasia Live’ to PASD’s new auditorium

Conductor Michael Butterman conducts The Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert at Pottstown Senior High School earlier this year.
Conductor Michael Butterman conducts The Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert at Pottstown Senior High School earlier this year. Kevin Hoffman — Digital First File Photo
The Pennsylvania Philharmonic will perform “Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert” as the film plays in HD on a big screen above the orchestra at Phoenixville Area Middle School Jan. 2.
The Pennsylvania Philharmonic will perform “Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert” as the film plays in HD on a big screen above the orchestra at Phoenixville Area Middle School Jan. 2. Courtesy of Disney and The Pa. Philharmonic

PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville Area School District is getting set to host a special performance of “Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert” when the Pennsylvania Philharmonic comes to town on Jan. 2.

The concert is open to the public and will be held in Phoenixville Area Middle School’s new auditorium.

The 80 piece symphony will play the soundtrack to the iconic Disney classic live as the film projects onto a large high definition screen hung above the orchestra. The film footage itself will be flown in personally from California by a Disney representative and will feature a “Best of Fantasia” mix. Memorable songs and clips from both the original 1940 film, as well as the “Fantasia 2000” remake, will be included.

Founder and CEO of the Pennsylvania Philharmonic Scott Robinson is excited to perform in the middle school’s new auditorium, which he said is an amazing venue visually, spatially and acoustically. The symphony had previously performed another program there earlier this fall.

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“Not a whole lot of people know about this great facility that you have in Phoenixville, this performing arts center,” said Robinson. “When we had this opportunity to do ‘Fantasia,’ we reached right out to the school district. It’s quite good. It has 1,000 seats. It has a size stage that will accommodate 80 musicians and a great technical backstage, so we can produce this Fantasia.”

Robinson remarked that the audience will be in for an amazing spectacle, to see the large orchestra play live, as the film is simultaneously playing.

“It’s rather a big undertaking. When you work with Disney, they do everything first rate and they have very specific technical requirements, but it’s spectacular. There’s a large HD screen that is brought in. The orchestra then performs the soundtrack to this iconic vehicle that everybody knows and loves.”

Robinson also noted that the audience for the Jan. 2 show will be the first audience to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the classic film, which first premiered in 1940.

“It’s really the best of the symphonic orchestra repertoire that you’ll see in major halls across the world, in a two-hour program,” he said. “The great thing is the movie probably impacts all ages. For a lot of people, this is their first exposure to classical music. The iconic Mickey Mouse the Sorcerer’s Apprentice will be one of the centerpieces of the performance. Everybody is familiar with that. It really has a nostalgic and important impact on you.

Formed just six months ago, Robinson said the Pennsylvania Philharmonic is pleased to continue with its mission of bringing music education to communities all over the state. He said their aim is to make symphonic music accessible for everyone.

“We do things a little bit differently than most symphony orchestras. Seventy percent of our performances will be for school students. We do a significant amount of work in the schools basically for grades fourth through eighth,” he said. “We are just thrilled that we are able to work and bring these interactive programs to students, because if you can expose students to music at an early age, they will have a greater appreciation (for it). We try to make it easy for the schools, so we go to them and perform in their facility. All they have to do is bring the students right down to the auditorium.”

Robinson continued, “‘Disney Fantasia’ fits right into our mission. We try to make musical programs that will be accessible for students, parents, grandparents. The music is the dialog for this and that is the great thing about Fantasia. The music tells the story and the story is about the music.”

PASD Superintendent Dr. Alan D. Fegley said in a recent press release that this performance provides an opportunity for students, their parents and the entire community to enjoy a major concert in the district’s new venue.

“Our new auditorium provides wonderful acoustics for the musicians of the Pennsylvania Philharmonic, and the seating design allows everyone to have a clear view of the orchestra and the huge HD screen,” Fegley said.

The Pennsylvania Philharmonic will be donating $5 from each ticket sale to support the Firebird Festival. Tickets to “Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert” can be purchased at PAPhilharmonic.org.