In its more than 90 year history, the Walt Disney Animation Studios has created some of the best animated films of all time. That can be argued, but the reality is that everyone has a reason why that’s the case. Some may cite “Frozen” as definitive proof while others may say “Steamboat Willie”.
In those two films alone that span those 90+ years, one can’t ignore the differences in both. They both have the title of being “Disney Classics”, but how did they arrive at such a designation? According to Disney Animation veteran Dave Bossert, it rests in the story of origins.
“There has always been this struggle of defining what is a classic Disney movie,” he said. “Frozen might be a classic film in a few years, but true classics are things that shaped films like Frozen, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Bossert currently serves as Producer, Creative Director, and Head of Classic Projects for the Walt Disney Animation Studios. In short, he knows what it takes to make a Disney film “classic” and carries many responsibilities to highlight that fact. Although people living in different generations might have a different definition, what remains the same through all of them is their connection to music.
“Music defined film in the silent film era, especially Walt Disney’s early cartoons.” Those cartoons used music to share the emotion of what was happening on-screen.
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As seen in the classic Disney short The Band Concert above, music was done in an “unorganized” fashion, according to Bossert. “They didn’t really have catchy melodies, but emphasized action.” It wasn’t unordinary for music to play such an integral part of enjoying Disney animation experience back then, but a very normal and welcome one.
Reflecting on that enjoyment drove Disney to create an experience that would re-emphasize the importance of music and animation once again.
The result is a concert that is a culmination of nearly 2 years of work between the Walt Disney Animation Studios and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra that hopes to bridge the gaps in definition by going back to what inspired today’s “classic” animated films.
The orchestra, together with award-winning music director Mark Watters, a special concert will be held this coming Saturday featuring restored Disney animated shorts accompanied by live music.
It’s not just any live music either. The 35-piece chamber orchestra will be performing the same music that accompanied the 1920s and 1930s-era animated shorts. As you might have noticed in The Band Concert clip, the music is very unconventional and difficult to play, but will be played in full by seasoned pros all synced to the animation fun that’s happening on the screen – a true feat of musicianship!
In addition to some well-known shorts like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from “Fantasia”, Mickey Mouse in The Band Concert, and the most recent Academy Award-winning Get A Horse!, there will be some shorts that will be world premiered including a few featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Still for many, the titles or even the shorts themselves might not connect with today’s audiences, but that shouldn’t stop you from going to this concert, argues Bossert. For those in attendance, concert organizers are promising a one-of-kind experience of being in an elaborate and adorned movie palace to experience what would have been playing in those places originally.
If that doesn’t get you, attendees can expect a grand Disney animation celebration surrounded by the classic nature of fantastic symphonic music.
“Animation is American art form and its seeds are within these classic Disney shorts,” Bossert said. “This concert is a celebration of both. It should also remind people that [Disney] is still making these classic moments for everyone to enjoy.”
No matter if you’re a Millennial or feel like you’ve been around for as long and want to learn why you love today’s Disney animated classics, buy your ticket and go to this concert showing the animated classics that started it all.
Just open those Mouse Ears – there’s a lot of reasons to be heard.
For tickets and more information on the concert, visit the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s website.
Our special thanks to Dave Bossert for contributing to this piece.