While many are opposed to pre-show advertising and entertainment in movie theaters, I’ve never been bothered by it much. National CineMedia, a Denver area company, is a leader in cinema advertising and entertainment. Its NCM Fathom events division presents simulcasts of special events ranging from pop and rock concerts to The Metropolitan Opera.
This afternoon my father-in-law and I attended Fathom’s first full concert simulcast of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Experiencing the LA Phil in a movie theater is not the same as sitting in Walt Disney Concert Hall. In some ways it’s better.
The event included pre-concert remarks by Gustavo (I refer to my three favored conductors by first name) as well as views backstage that included a walk with Gustavo from his office and dressing room to the stage. Before taking the stage Gustavo told Vanessa Williams (who was disappointing as host) that he was wearing a vest that had belonged to Leonard Bernstein, which had been given to him by Bernstein’s children. I don’t think anyone in the house knew this.
That Gustavo was wearing Bernstein’s vest was apropos as the program included Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in the first Act, preceded by John Adams‘ Slonimsky’s Earbox (the pre-performance features also included an interview with Adams talking about the piece). The second Act was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, the Allegretto of which is one of my favorite pieces of music. At the conclusion of the Beethoven the audience lept to its feet and Gustavo responded with an encore, one of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. The program was emotional and I loved– I mean really LOVED– watching Gustavo interpret and lead the orchestra through the journey. I wouldn’t have been able to see his face had I been sitting in the concert hall.
I don’t plan to be in Los Angeles for the next two concerts, March 13 and June 5, that will be simulcast by Fathom but I do plan to attend and encourage you to too.