Maybe more than any other animated film of my younger years, Fantasia hit that sweet spot of lasting memory. It was the silly beauty of hippos frolicking in pink tutus and the brooding specter of a demon looming over dark mountains. But mostly it was the music, the flutter of piccolos and the crash of symbols in those scenes that drilled the emotions of Fantasia into my mind and has kept it alive with flashes of nostalgia into my adulthood.
That’s why I’ll see it again this weekend when the Santa Barbara Symphony, under the baton of guest conductor David Lockington, will perform live to screened excerpts of the original 1940 Disney film and its Fantasia 2000 reboot. The show will also feature Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber and Lockington’s own Ceremonial Fantasy Fanfare.
Lockington is excited for the audience to feel Fantasia’s lilts and rumbles in their bones. “It’s a totally different experience,” he said. “It’s the same as talking to a person on the phone versus speaking with them face-to-face.” For Lockington, who serves as music director of the Modesto and Pasadena symphonies, the unique performance style is the ideal way to bring the often lofty music down to our reality. “My orientation is toward human contact,” he said, “moving airwaves between people in meaningful ways. It’s about bringing something alive in human scale and in real time.” Plus, Disney is fun. “We all know things are better with humor,” he said.
The upcoming kid-friendly performances are perfectly prefaced by the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Concerts for Young People, which will also be led by Lockington. The 45-minute program is designed to introduce 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to orchestral music through interactive demonstrations, and it’s open to the public. It will feature works by Beethoven, Elgar, and others, and a solo of Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen by 17-year-old and Santa Barbara Youth Symphony member Holly Radford.
“Young musicians develop life skills like listening, cooperation, and creation,” said Lockington of exposing children early to the art form. And orchestral music is perfect for a malleable mind because the genre itself is flexible. “It’s a kind of pliable, plastic medium that is used in many different environments,” he explained. “You can adapt to any style, any century. And it can enhance something enormously.” Nearly 50 Santa Barbara Unified School District schools will participate. —Tyler Hayden
Shows are Saturday, January 28, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, January 29, at 3 p.m., at the Granada Theatre, 1214 State Street. Call (805) 899-2222 or see granadasb.org.