Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Presents “An Evening of Disney Silly Symphonies” – Animation Scoop

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Presents “An Evening of Disney Silly Symphonies”

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) will present LACO @ the Movies: An Evening of Disney Silly Symphonies, a program of Academy Award-winning animation created by Walt Disney Studios between 1929 and 1939 – with orchestral scores performed live by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra led by six-time Emmy award-winning composer Mark Watters – on Saturday, June 4th, 2016, 7 pm, at the historic Orpheum Theatre movie palace in downtown Los Angeles.

Seven classic animated Silly Symphony shorts will be screened – including five Academy Award-winners, the first Silly Symphony short produced and directed by Walt Disney, the first commercial color short and the first to utilize a multiplane camera to create depth of field. With animation by a number of Disney legends, these films are presented against a backdrop of live music. From symphonic to jazz, and featuring the Orpheum’s 1927 Wurlitzer – one of only three remaining original theatre organ installations in theatres in Southern California – the music by such luminaries as Leigh Harline and Carl Stalling is arranged for live orchestra by Watters and Alex Rannie.



Disney produced 75 Silly Symphony shorts during a ten-year period from 1929 through 1939, many used to experiment with special effects and camera techniques. The concept, conceived by Walt Disney and Carl Stalling, his first musical director, was simple: complete a musical composition first, followed by a story and animation around that score.

LACO @ the Movies: An Evening of Disney Silly Symphonies opens with The Skeleton Dance (1929), the first Silly Symphony short produced and directed by Walt Disney, starring four music-making and dancing skeletons in a macabre graveyard with a score by Carl Stalling based on the foxtrot, a popular dance beat of the era, set in a minor key. Also shown are Flowers and Trees (1932), the first commercial short produced in color using the then-new Technicolor three-strip process and featuring a pastoral symphonic score by Bert Lewis and Frank Churchill, which became a critical success and won the first Academy Award for Animated Short Subject; Three Little Pigs (1933), a musical sensation scored by Stalling that won a 1934 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and was named to the National Film Registry in 2007 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”; and the Academy Award-winning The Old Mill (1937), the first short to experiment with animation and camera techniques utilizing the multiplane camera, which added a dimensionality not previously seen in animated film and was later used in the iconic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

"Flowers And Trees" (1932)

“Flowers And Trees” (1932)

Other featured Silly Symphony shorts include The Country Cousin (1936), performed with live music for the first time since it was produced 80 years ago. Winner of the Best Animated Short Academy Award in 1937, this film is based on the Aesop Fable “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” with a sophisticated musical score by Harline. Also shown is the 1939 color version of The Ugly Duckling, based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, which was the last Silly Symphony produced by the studio and garnered an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (a black and white version was produced in 1931). The evening concludes with Music Land (1935), featuring a brilliant and virtuosic score that pits the Land of Symphony against the Isle of Jazz for a unique Disney “take” on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The event’s venue, The Orpheum Theatre, located at the heart of downtown’s revitalized Broadway Theatre District, adds a particularly special flourish to the festivities. Opened in 1926, around the time Walt Disney was toiling on Alice Comedies and Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, the 2,000-seat theatre features a stunning Beaux Arts façade designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is considered one of the world’s premier chamber orchestras as well as a pacesetter in presenting wide-ranging repertoire and adventurous commissions.

Film tickets for LACO @ The Movies: An Evening of Disney Silly Symphonies start at $38 and are available at laco.org or by calling 800 745 3000. For in-person sales, The Orpheum box office is open on Wednesdays only, 1 to 7 pm. The Orpheum Theatre is located at 842 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014.

"Music Land" (1935)

“Music Land” (1935)

Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck

Writer, cartoon producer and author of more than 15 books on animation history. A former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney; currently on the faculty at both CalArts in Valencia and Woodbury University in Burbank.
Jerry Beck
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