WASO's orchestral romp

Richard Kaufman
West Australian

By Rosalind Appleby

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
WA Symphony Orchestra
Riverside Theatre

When Paul Daniel arrived at the helm of the WA Symphony Orchestra, one of his goals was for the orchestra to perform at different venues to a broader audience.

It's hard to imagine this happening more successfully than the concert on Saturday night at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. A live performance of the soundtrack to the first Pirates of the Caribbean film attracted more than 2000 children, couples and families - and the odd pirate.

Grammy Award-winning American conductor Richard Kaufman introduced The Curse of the Black Pearl and all eyes were on the orchestra and chorus, seated beneath a huge movie screen. Ominous chords rumbled in the low strings and brass and suddenly a ship loomed above the orchestra. Within moments the audience was caught up in the rip-roaring adventure of Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and the infamous Jack Sparrow. It was like being in a huge cinema but with waves of energised music rolling from the stage.

Witnessing the soundtrack performed live was a reminder of how integral music is to film; the orchestra played with barely a moment to pause, and its presence gave a heightened urgency to the drama.

When Jack Sparrow was arrested after rescuing Elizabeth from drowning, the orchestra paused for some dialogue before launching a sudden bass chord as Jack threw his shackled hands around Elizabeth's neck to kidnap her. The 30-piece men's chorus began to chant and the strings joined the fray as Jack made his escape.

Kaufman adeptly co-ordinated orchestra, chorus and screen action with the help of a click track and podium monitor. It was fascinating to trace a sound to its source: for example, the Medallion Calls horn theme, and the electronic sounds generated by keyboard player Adam Pinto.

Often the music overwhelmed the dialogue, particularly in the battle scenes. But when the orchestra broke through the cinematic trance it was a reminder of the luxury of experiencing a full symphonic orchestra.

When the end credits rolled up, the theatre resounded with cheers from a delighted audience.

This was the first of two live movie screenings planned for 2013: the orchestra will perform The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in June.