Jack Quinn

Victor Gluck

Chip Deffaa

"Casablanca" with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
By: Joel Benjamin
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Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from Casablanca

Sitting in an enormous movie palace with Casablanca playing on a huge screen is the way films were meant to be seen. It was a pleasure to be with thousands of others in the State Theatre - New Jersey, a pleasure that only people of a certain age can remember and relish in this age of digital downloading, multiplexes and on-demand programming. Enhancing the experience was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on stage supplying the musical soundtrack composed by the prolific Max Steiner of Gone with the Wind fame. The combination of the big silver screen and the big sound of the New Jersey Symphony gave the afternoon a glamour and excitement as if we were at the film’s 1942 opening night. It was better that 3-D. It was aural 3-D, a visceral encounter.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra close up

Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos had the arduous task of not only bringing to life a movie score, but fitting it into short spurts to back up carefully timed dramatic and comic scenes. Under most circumstances, a conductor finds the tempi that suit his and the music’s needs. That Casablanca. Max Steiner’s exciting score and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra survived without any damage to their reputations is a triumph in itself. Maestro Kitsopoulos, fed by the energy of the audience’s anticipation, made this orchestra sound rich: the strings were velvety and the woodwinds smooth, but kudos have to go to the brass and percussion sections which provided palpably powerful sounds.

Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre in a scene from Casablanca

It’s a shame that this kind of live music/film combination is financially impossible to replicate with any frequency and that the vast majority of people will never have this stimulating experience, but it’s wonderful that the State Theatre and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra had the courage and vision to present this program.

Casablanca with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (February 10th, 2013)
State Theatre, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ
Tickets: 732-246-7469 or http://www.StateTheatreNJ.org
More Information: http://www.njsymphony.org

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