I saw "The Wizard of Oz" on TV when I was 5, sitting on my mother's lap in my grandparents' living room.
But I saw it again, and for the first time, on Friday night at Wolf Trap, where a screening of the movie was accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra playing Herbert Stothart and Harold Arlen's thoroughly imaginative score. Conductor Emil de Cou, with his trademark humor, welcomed the audience and advised them to clap or boo along with their favorite moments. He also told us to sing along with the songs -- but when we got home.
There are many technical challenges in a performance like this -- not the least that the orchestra musicians must keep pace with a screen they cannot see and singers who cannot hear them. The NSO navigated all of these bumps in the yellow brick road, and having the music in the foreground of the film brought out elements and moments that usually go unnoticed. From the frightening tarantella of the Wicked Witch to the melodies of "there's no place like home," the threads of the film are woven together by the music.
It was an exciting evening, and the grander message of this event was truly something I found in my own back yard -- the five children sitting next to me, aged 2 to 6, who had never seen the movie before. They were as enraptured at their first sights of the Emerald City as I was seeing it with new eyes.
Together with the NSO, we were all off to see the Wizard.
-- Claire Marie Blaustein