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BWW Reviews: PIXAR in Concert at SF Symphony


Come for the music and stay for the Blue Devils. Pixar in Concert includes the best musical moments from all its films, but its Monsters University finale featuring members of the drum corps Blue Devils steals the performance, albeit for only a few short moments. But move quickly enough and you may get the perfect view of the fittingly named Devils outside after a special "You've Got a Friend in Me" encore.

The San Francisco Symphony plays Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, A Bug's Life, WALL-E, Cars, Up, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and Brave through Sunday July 20 at the building with perfect acoustics, Davies Symphony Hall. Film clips accompany their counterparts, and even the few Pixar films that disappointed find new life and movement when highlighted with their scores. Two hours of Pixar music is pure magic.

As director of Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3 and host at Thursday evening's concert Lee Unkrich said, the scores by Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino, and Patrick Doyle connect audiences with the emotions and actions of characters on screen. Although some of these scores require synthesized sounds in the symphony setting, they also underline certain instruments when heard in their full glory without the distraction of dialogue and most sound effects (the Symphony left a few in there for humor). Audiences can look forward to the trumpets in The Incredibles, the harp in Finding Nemo, the piano in Up and much more.

Unkrich, who only spoke at the beginning of each half of the concert, alternates hosting with Pixar CEO John Lasseter and Incredibles director Brad Bird. The hosts would likely have more interesting things to say if given more time, but at two hours long, the Pixar concert is the perfect length for the many children in attendance. Thursday evening, Unkrich covered the scoring process at Pixar and spoke about his own personal work with Toy Story 3 composer Randy Newman.

Come early for sing-along with Disney music on piano and themed drinks for the adults.

Pixar in Concert plays through Sunday at the Davies Symphony Hall. The remaining "Summer and the Symphony" lineup includes the music of Abba, Cheyenne Jackson, Melissa Etheridge and Beethoven. Future film concerts include The Wizard of Oz in September, The Godfather in January, Gotta Dance in March and Tan Dun's Martial Arts Trilogy in April. Tickets and information at

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

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