MY DAY: ONU Symphony & Disney in Concert



When you combine these two you always experience something incredible.


Last night’s concert with the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra, featuring classic motion picture scores from Disney Studios, was outstanding!  I don’t think anyone could have left this production not feeling the magic, and humming the melodies.

This neatly packed Disney offering for orchestra included a generous multimedia presentation to accompany the selections, and four vocalists: Candice Nicole, Whitney Claire Kaufman, Andrew Johnson, and Dennis Kyle.

The multimedia’s visual accompaniment included scenes from the motion picture classics, often synced with the music.  There were also photographs of original story boards and animation cells.  The visuals greatly augmented the music, but quite honestly, the orchestra and vocalists could have easily sufficed.

The vocalists, for the most part, were very good, but very calculated in the theme-park/cruise ship performance style.  However, they did not fall short of entertaining the enthusiastic, appreciative audience.  Whitney Claire Kaufman, for me, stood out as the most 3-D talent of the quartet.  Her energy seemed to reach out, pulling us even closer to the magic of Disney.

The full musical buffet highlighted a wide variety of classics.  The orchestral suites included: THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY & THE BEAST, MARY POPPINS, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, ALADDIN, THE LION KING.  Individual selections of “Colors of the Wind” and “I Wanna Be Like You” were nice little insertions.

There were three outstanding moments in this orchestral production: “Disney Classics Overture”, “Pirates of the Caribbean Suite”, and “It’s A Small World.”

I loved “Classics” and “Pirates” because they were solely the ONUSO’s presentation.  This exceptional collegiate ensemble, under the expert, energetic baton of Lloyd Butler, soared.  I prefer the sound of this orchestra because it tends to remain true to the colors prescribed in the scores.  Many orchestras maintain a consistent bright, or dark timbre, due to the taste of the conductor.  Mr. Butler, also quite skilled in the musical theatre arena, wields a technicolor paintbrush to the canvas of sound, leading the student-musicians away from the black and white on the page.  “Classics” and “Pirates” demonstrated the full range of talent possessed by the ONUSO.

For me, this was the true magic of the evening!

The principal Disney composers/lyricists, Alan Menkin, Timothy Rice, Howard Ashman, Stephen Schwartz, and the legendary duo, The Sherman Brothers – Richard & Robert – were honored in this production, and as a musician/conductor, and lover of Disney music, I was quite touched by their enormous contributions to music that has both invigorated and inspired my career, and remained a staple throughout my life.

My neighbor, Brendan Rasor, a third year pharmacy student, and cellist with the ONUSO, asked, “What were your favorite moments?”

Well, the mentioned moments featuring the orchestra, as well as the suite from THE LION KING.  However, the ending feature was quite enjoyable.  

The quartet and orchestra led the audience in whistling and singing the cheerful strains of “It’s A Small World.”  This has always been a favorite.  After all, the song arrived at the 1964 World’s Fair – the same year I arrived.  And I heard someone behind me tell their child, “This song is 50 years old.”  Sigh….

Honestly, I loved it all.  It was refreshing.  It was Disney music and Disney magic – and the two always go hand in hand.

And the magic did not end when the concert-production concluded.  

As people left The Freed Center, a centerpiece jewel on Ohio Northern’s campus, people were whistling, humming and singing melodies as they strolled through the crowd toward parking.

The happiest place on earth, Saturday evening, October 19th, 2013, was undoubtedly Ohio Northern University.


About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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