On Saturday, March 15, the Tulare County Symphony will give its audience a chance to see “Casablanca,” one of the most popular movies of all time, in a unique way. While the movie is played on the big screen at the Visalia Fox Theatre, the orchestra will recreate the musical score.
During music director Bruce Kiesling’s second year with the symphony (which was the first year he was on hand to choose the programming), he added a movie night that featured nothing but songs from movies. This concert quickly sold out. The next season continued that tradition. Then last year, there was a new twist. The film classic “Psycho” was shown on the big movie screen at the Fox, but the music for the film was all supplied by the orchestra – complete with screechy violins.
So this year the tradition continues with the showing of the 1942 movie featuring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in his first romantic role. The music for “Casablanca” was written by Max Steiner, best known for the score of “Gone with the Wind.” The song “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld had been part of the story from the original play. Steiner wanted to write his own composition to replace it, but Ingrid Bergman had already cut her hair short for her next role (Maria in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) and could not re-shoot the scenes which incorporated the song, so Steiner based the entire score on it and “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, transforming them to reflect changing moods.
Asked how he keeps track of the music and when to bring in the orchestra, Kiesling said, “I’m always keeping an eye on the timing. I have two small television screens. One shows the film, and right next to it there is another screen with a clock running. I watch that clock closely to make sure that things continue to time out correctly. I’m not really ‘watching’ the movie at all.”
The musicians are below and behind the screen, but have an idea of how much time is between each cue. It’s written in their parts, which might say “30 seconds” before the next cue, or perhaps as long as four or five minutes.
The concert begins at 7:30pm at the Visalia Fox Theatre. The audience is invited to come at 6:45 to hear Kiesling give behind-the-scenes information before the concert. Tickets are $30 to $39.50 at the symphony office, 208 W. Main St., Suite D, Visalia (downstairs in Montgomery Square). Student prices are $10. Tickets are also available at 732-8600 or www.tularecountysymphony.com.
The season brochure for 2014-15 is now available. To get a copy, visit the symphony office.