BWW Reviews: FANTASIA at SF Symphony

BWW Reviews: FANTASIA at SF Symphony

Classical music and drawn animation might be considered things of the past, but they had glorious relevance at the Davies Symphony Hall this past weekend. The Disney cartoons of 1940's revolutionary Fantasia played in brilliant, restored, high-definition color alongside clips from Fantasia 2000 with musical accompaniment by the San Francisco Symphony.

Between the original Fantasia and its sequel, there's plenty of source material to choose from for (hopefully) future performances. Sunday's performance began with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, and abstract feature of light versus dark, and No. 6, Pastoral, which featured the Greek gods, fauns and other creatures. Tchaikovsky's Nutcrack Suite, the originally cut Clair de Lune (Debussy) and Stravinski's Firebird suite filled the remaining first half with images of nature.

The concert's second half featured the famous ostrich, hippopotamus, elephant and alligator ballet (Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours), Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice (to which Fantasia owes much of its existence), Donald Duck in his own Noah-inspired short featuring Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, and flying whales in Respighi's Pines of Rome.

The whales segment represented one of the first combinations of new computer animation with traditional hand drawn animation. Much like its original counterpart, Fantasia 2000 experimented with new technology and introduced new audiences to classical music. The San Francisco Symphony continues this tradition with multimedia concerts and new film series each year. At Sunday afternoon's performance, children laughed and enjoyed themselves as they experienced the magic of Fantasia for the first time under the direction of conductor Sarah Hicks, whom one audience member defined as a human Minnie Mouse.

Hicks returns later this summer to conduct Pixar in Concert, another Disney-inspired theme that will apparently have special guests from Pixar to host each performance. For more information or to buy tickets visit

Follow Harmony Wheeler's theatre adventures on Instagram and Twitter @HarmonyWheeler.

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