The film E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial Live in Concert hit the Sony Centre during the Christmas season last year, and it was a once in a lifetime experience where you will be able to see the musical score performed live right in front of you and watch one of the most epic films of all time. Last year, the live orchestra was lead by none other than conductor Evan Mitchell who will once again head this year’s live orchestra of another Steven Spielberg film. This holiday season, the film Jurassic Park: Live in Concert will roar its way to the screen at The Sony Centre. With the combination of big dinosaurs on the screen along with a beautiful musical score, Jurassic Park: Live in Concert will be an experience that the whole family will love during this holiday season. FERNTV spoke to conductor Evan Mitchell on how he became who he is today and why this time around, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park: Live in Concert can not be missed.
FERNTV: Tell us here on FERNTV about the story of the day you wanted to become a conductor and was there a direct influence to that?
Evan: Conducting was something I ended up doing more and more during my advanced studies while I was also working on my percussion performance degree. I wouldn’t say there was a single day where I wanted to be a conductor, I wanted to do it all! That being said, I had to make a choice when it came time to pursue a Masters degree, and I ultimately ended up choosing the baton.
FERNTV: Can you briefly tell us about the experience of being a consultant to the VOC and associate producer for the recording of the medal ceremony national anthems?
Evan: It was fabulous, I was receiving parcels every few days from the International Olympic Committee filled with scores for my perusal. When it came time for the session, being on the headset in the booth for the two days while those national anthems were recorded was a magnificent experience, one I’m very proud of.
FERNTV: What inspired SoundSync and who can you credit of putting this all together?
Evan: Believe it or not, I was inspired by the old MTV “Pop Up Video” segments when I was trying to find a workable way to present the equivalent of the museum “Silent tour guide headsets” to symphony audiences. In terms of putting it together, I’m proud to say that SoundSync is absolutely my pet project. I create all the slide content and mark up the scores, and I spent a good two months working out the best tech implementation to implement in the concert hall.
FERNTV: Do you always feel pressure when performing in front of children and how do you make it appeal to them?
Evan: Children are actually very appreciative audiences, so I don’t feel pressure in that way, but I think that concerts for young people are among the most important that we perform, so there is that particular drive to succeed as far as I’m concerned. In terms of finding a way to appeal to younger audiences, it’s also easier than one might think. You just don’t take yourself seriously, have lots of fun, and give the kids credit for being able to understand what you’re trying to present. Also I always make a point of performing selections which might challenge the kids a bit, because they’re up for it. Attention spans in young people are far better than I think most people realize.
FERNTV: When you watch the film Whiplash, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Evan: In my opinion, Whiplash is kind of a exaggeration of that kind of teacher/student relationship, but it’s based on a teaching style which definitely existed in advanced studies at least while I was finishing up my formal education. It can work for some students, but in my experience it’s certainly not beneficial for everybody. And I do believe that the times are changing, that particular approach to teaching is becoming less and less prevalent in music schools.
FERNTV: From what you already know, how will conducting Jurassic Park differ from last year’s E.T.?
Evan: The biggest change will be in the nature and style of the music. E.T. is a very emotional film from top to bottom and it’s almost like an opera, very flexible and free. Jurassic Park has some of those moments of intimacy, but once things start to go off the rails, the focus of the music is more on the drive of it all, and so it’s more about intensity and endurance.
FERNTV: What do you think that will be most challenging when conducting for Jurassic Park in Concert?
Evan: The biggest challenge for me is always keeping things exactly where they’re supposed to in relation to the film. If I’m half a second off of where I should be in the film, it drives me crazy. I’m obsessive about these things. That being said, it will also be a challenge to carve out the right feeling for the lighter, more personal character moments in the film. I want to make sure we do those justice.
FERNTV: What is your favourite part of the film?
Evan: That would be when Drs. Grant and Sattler first see a live dinosaur as they are being driven around the park in a jeep. Everything about the way its put together, from the individual performances to the camera placement (focused on their reaction rather than on the dinosaur itself until we can’t stand it any more) and the brilliant build in the music. It’s an exceptional cinematic moment, in my opinion.
FERNTV: Do you feel this will be a great opportunity for all of the family to get together to watch something amazing?
Evan: These types of performances, where the film is being projected while the orchestra plays live and in sync, they are the very best way to experience these films. It’s extraordinary. If you’ve seen Jurassic Park a dozen times, you’ll find something new in this performance, and also a good chunk of the time you’ll forget the orchestra is even there. Live performance are always the way to go, and I think this will be an unbelievable experience for everyone who comes.