Film music shines at the first ever Oscar Concert.

I went to the rather brilliant first Oscar Concert last month, and wrote a review for Film Score Monthly Online. Here’s a taste:

The biggest surprise of the night was Gravity, which I was certain would crumble apart in the denuding light of a live concert. It did not, and the pre-recorded electronic elements were brilliantly synchronized with the live players, generating a slowly building, visceral thunder in the modest hall that surged through and electrified the audience. I was already defending this score and its Oscar nomination—it is effective and emotional, more than warrants its blend of sound design and music, and does far more heavy (narrative and environmental) lifting than most film scores—but I was utterly stunned when Price’s inherently Frankenstein, cut-and-paste, computer-reliant construction came alive and roared in the hands of a symphony orchestra. A good omen for its win three nights later.

Her, written by members of Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett (who conducted the suite), was arguably the weakest selection of the bunch, which the concert performance cleanly revealed. And that was the beauty of the whole concept: It stripped away all the non-musical distractions and pushed each score onto a brightly lit stage to be tested in the crucible of living violins and French horns and the unique demands of a concert audience and ambience. It revealed the musical mettle of each nomination, which in any given year would leave many Oscar-nominated scores pantsless and red-faced. But this year’s crop was broadly proven to be a sturdy, well-chosen bunch, and the concert gave each score its deserved due in a setting where the music was soaked up in appreciation.

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