April 14, 2024, 8:02 PM ·

A piece of Walt Disney World came to Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall this weekend.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic this weekend offered three performances of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor (“Organ”), which is well known to Walt Disney World fans as the finale music for the long-running Impressions de France movie at EPCOT.French conductor Louis Langrée led the orchestra, which featured Joanne Pearce Martin performing on Disney Hall’s iconic “French fries” organ for the symphony.
Violinist.com’s Laurie Niles with Robert… and the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ in the background.The last remaining unmodified opening day attraction in EPCOT, Impressions de France holds the Guinness World Record as the longest-running film in a specific theater in motion picture history. You can read more about the attraction and its inspiration in my previous posts:The film has played to countless millions of viewers over its 43 years, making it likely that more people have heard Saint-Saëns’ work in the EPCOT France pavilion’s Palais du Cinéma than anywhere else in the world.But if you ever get the opportunity to hear this work performed live, please, treat yourself. I love theme parks, but there is no auditory experience in the world that compares to hearing a full symphony orchestra playing one of the great works of the repertoire, live and in full acoustic glory.No speakers. No amplifiers. Instead, a stage filled with strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion – backed by that amazing organ – filled the hall with rich, nuanced sound that no recording can match. The result? At least a couple of people near me exclaiming, “oh my God,” before the entire crowd of more than 1,000 people stood for an ovation that lasted more than six minutes. You can read more about Friday’s concert from Laurie on Violinist.com: Review: LA Phil’s Triumphant ‘Organ Symphony’.

The requirement for an in-house organ makes the Saint-Saëns a rare appearance on orchestral programs. But other works from Impressions de France appear on your nearest professional orchestra’s season program from time to time, including Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, Debussy’s Nocturne, and Offenbach’s Gaite Parisienne. If you are an EPCOT fan, consider this your invitation to experience a moment from the park closer to home by supporting your local orchestra.To keep up to date with more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider’s weekly newsletter. And for the latest from the world of classical music, please subscribe to Violinist.com’s twice-weekly newsletter.

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