Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).
If you think about some of your favourite films, does music come to mind? Even if it doesn’t, it likely helped set the tone for those scenes that most stay with you—leaving an indelible mark on your memory; that lasting impression. And, if you’re like us, some of your fondest childhood (and beyond!) memories of films were of Disney films.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: Tell us more about the Ottawa Pops Orchestra?
Mathieu Roy: The Ottawa Pops Orchestra aims to foster the next generation of musicians, redefine the orchestral experience, and create a sense of community in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
This means that we are reaching out to the under 35 demographic and are trying to show them how great orchestral music can be, that it is still relevant and a very important source of entertainment.
We want to change the stigma of the “classical orchestra hall’’ where you are dressed to the nines, and phones are turned off, and that orchestral music is for the elite and privileged. You want to come to the show in a comfortable onesie, or dressed up in a stormtrooper outfit? Go ahead! We want you to enjoy your experience however you want to.
“You want to come to the show in a comfortable onesie, or dressed up in a stormtrooper outfit? Go ahead!”
The music that we program is designed to be accessible to the general public and a gateway to the wider orchestral music world. We will continue to program lighter classical favourites, some tunes that almost anyone can recognize and eventually venture into some more advanced selections, but we want anyone to be able to come to the show no matter their previous knowledge and leave having enjoyed themselves and possibly learned something new.
The orchestra has done shows with music from everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter—and now Disney. How do you decide the theme of your shows?
The majority of our audience will be experiencing a live symphony orchestra for the first time and so it is important to present material that they can identify with and have been previously exposed to.
Many believe that the symphony is boring and for an elitist group of intellectuals, when in reality it is anything but! Back in the day, in the time of Mozart and Beethoven, there weren’t any movie theatres to go to on a Friday night. The common form of entertainment was the opera house, it was their primary source of entertainment.
Fast forward 200 odd years, and we find that the symphonies of today exist in the realm of the cinema. Sure, the way they are presented is different, but the reason for their existence is essentially the same. In a film, it’s easy to forget that there was a full symphony orchestra recording the music in real time while the conductor is watching the movie. But wouldn’t the experience be different if there wasn’t such a lush score accompanying the images?
We want to bring this music to the forefront and have audiences feel the emotions being conveyed by the score. Those that have seen the films will have the added bonus of seeing it in their minds as the soaring melodies bring back fond memories.
Tell us a bit more about your conductor and the orchestra for the Disney concert?
Jonathan Dagenais, our Principal Pops Conductor, is an established Montreal conductor and composer. He currently conducts for Cercle Philharmonique de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the Orchestre à Vents Non Identifié, and the Orchestre de jeux vidéo (Montreal Video Game Orchestra—an ensemble dedicated to video game soundtracks). For the year 2018-2019, he was appointed guest conductor for the Ottawa Pops Orchestra.
The orchestra for this concert is made up of 65 musicians. Depending on the program, this number might range from 55 to 75.
The orchestra’s core is composed of young professionals, university graduates that have or are currently studying musical performance, many of which might very well continue on to become well-respected musicians. The rest is made up of very talented community players that range in age and walks of life.
For those who haven’t been to one of your concerts before what can they expect?
On top of the orchestra and immersive music, there will also be activities in the lobby before the show and during intermission. There’s a bake sale and decadent treats inspired by Vaneloppe’s Candy Bar from Wreck-it-Ralph. Come early, dressed as you are or as your favourite characters, for a meet and greet with select royal guests starting at 6:45pm. It’s always a fun show.
Ottawa Pops Orchestra performs Disney soundtracks at Meridian Centrepointe Theatres on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at 7:30pm. Tickets range in price from $25.75–50.75 (child and student pricing available). The show runs about two and a half hours. RSVP on Facebook.