Written by Behnam Vadi
As a former art school graduate, hearing the word Pixar still grabs my attention in any capacity. And growing up in the Bay Area and watching Pixar be born and climb into the Disney portfolio has been a delightful experience rooting for a locally grown company. When coupling Pixar with the SF Symphony in a single sentence, my loyalty to both brands piques my attentiveness to their offerings, especially as a father of a five-year-old searching to attend an event that will heighten her education. The outcome was Pixar in Concert on Saturday, July 23, 2022, at Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony is widely considered among the most artistically innovative arts institutions in the United States, so the marriage between the two brands makes a lot of sense. When you think about the wizardry of Pixar Animation Studios, they’ve produced 26 films since it debuted its first feature in 1995, Toy Story, and have won numerous awards, including eighteen Academy Awards, ten Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy
Awards. WOW!!! Pixar’s highly creative film team has consistently raised the bar for animated
storytelling, propelling the viewer experience to new heights. Household names include Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars series, Ratatoulliue, and my favorite, Coco. And part of the success of these films is Pixar’s brilliance in locking arms with four worldly recognized composers: Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, Patrick Doyle, and Michael Giacchino, to create the scores.
On Saturday night, the orchestra, led by conductor Sarah Hicks (check out her impressive bio), performed 15 live scores to a medley of excerpts from Pixar’s top films projected on a giant screen. Mrs.Hicks, with her colorful and vibrant personality, was masterfully in sync with each cord and note struck by each musician. The precise and meticulous match took the audience through an emotional connection with scores to captivate the packed house of adult Pixar devotees on top of creating an adventurous journey of sound and visuals for the children. The nostalgic odyssey began with the legendary Toy Story, then stacking a series of clips from Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc., WALL-E, and Cars, ending act one with the tear-jerking, Up. Mrs.Hicks did an outstanding job of sending the audience into intermission with a combo Pixar/SF Symphony high, with people yearning for more. As people began taking their seats for act two, you could feel the eagerness from every concertgoer’s eyes — The Incredibles was the perfect segue! Following were extracts from Inside Out, Cars 2, Monsters University, Coco (OMG), and Incredibles 2, with an encore of Toy Story 3.
The result was a father’s dream where my 5-year-old sat through the event from beginning to end. Surprisingly, my daughters’ excitement after every set culminated in non-stop clapping that bleed into the following movie clip. I found myself tapping my feet throughout the entire show. GO DAD!
I highly recommend any Pixar fanatic or parent to attend Pixar in Concert — to experience a live music performance with unique animation: you are sure to leave dazzled! Also, SF Symphony, a big thank you for elevating my daughter’s mindset and giving her a heightened musical journey that she will carry into adulthood. For those who have not been able to catch our city’s excellent orchestra, this season’s calendar is filled with many upcoming shows to consider and a guaranteed outstanding experience.
For more info on the SF Symphony, go to: www.sfsymphony.org