Follow the yellow brick road in Davies Hall 

The "Wizard of Oz" screens with live orchestra accompaniment on Saturday. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • The "Wizard of Oz" screens with live orchestra accompaniment on Saturday.
Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos is in good company of legions, who can say, as he does: "I grew up watching the 'Wizard of Oz' on television every year when I was a kid. I passed that tradition on to my daughter as well."

Kitsopoulos – who conducts opera, concerts, ballet and has recorded the Baz Luhrmann production of "La Bohème" – leads the San Francisco Symphony in accompanying the film with Harold Arlen's score for the third time Saturday in Davies Hall, in the first of six concerts the orchestra’s second film series.

Kitsopoulos, who conducted the symphony's first "Oz" in 2007 and again two years ago, describes the challenge of coordinating the film and the orchestra: “The good news is that I can tell everyone that I've worked with Judy Garland. The bad news is that if I'm not with her and the orchestra exactly, everyone knows it.”

Made well before the invention of digital, “The Wizard of Oz” was edited using a razor blade on film, resulting in some “strange” edits that sometimes require the orchestra to skip part of a beat in the music to stay coordinated with the picture, says Kitsopoulos.

For audiences, there are no challenges. They get the pleasure of watching the film on a big screen and hearing the music in much more detail than possible on TV or DVD.

"One of the great things about presenting it this way," says Kitsopoulos, "is that it's an event that families can attend. For many of the young folks that come to experience it, it's the first time they will have heard a symphony orchestra live."

Also on the series are Todd Wilson's organ accompaniment to the silent classic "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," John Williams' score to "Home Alone," Nino Rota's "The Godfather" and "Gotta Dance! Great Moments of Dance in Film.”

The closing event features a Chinese martial arts trio performing to composer Tan Dun’s scores to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." "The Banquet ” and “Hero,” a passionate film set on a huge scale, with incredible vistas, immense, operatic crowd scenes, and brilliant colors. Damian Iorio conducts.

IF YOU GO

San Francisco Symphony Film Series

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: Saturday through April 25

Tickets: $20 to $181

Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org

The schedule

“The Wizard of Oz” – 8 p.m. Saturday

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” – 8 p.m. Oct. 31

“Home Alone” – 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13

“The Godfather” – 8 p.m. Jan. 9-10

“Gotta Dance!” – 8 p.m. March 28

Tan Dun's Martial Arts Trilogy – 8 p.m. April 25

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Bio:
Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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