By Dan McDonald
For Hometown News
BREVARD -- Blasting into Brevard like a Polar Express train is a holiday special, mixing big screen images with live orchestral soundtracks in a presentation sure to remind all of us that it truly is a wonderful life.
"Christmas at the Movies" - the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra's gift to us all - is a multimedia concert, blending iconic images of some of the most endearing and entertaining films of our times, with a full-on orchestra, underscoring the scenes with a powerful sound track. Think Currier & Ives meets rock 'n' roll.
"It really is a great way to mix images with sound," said Aaron T. Collins, Space Coast Symphony Orchestra's artistic director and conductor.
Mr. Collins admits he got the idea of combining movie frames and soundtracks from a concert at the Hollywood Bowl several years ago.
"We put images on the screen that most, if not all, the guests will be familiar with," he said. "At the same time, we're in the pit playing the music scores that correspond to those scenes. It's a fantastic way of getting to play some of the great film music that has been created over the years."
For Mr. Collins and the other nearly-200 orchestra members, it's another in a series of concerts designed to bring new guests into the fold.
"When we started the orchestra five years ago, we had three goals," said 30-year-old Mr. Collins. "We wanted to mentor some of the fine young talent in the area; we wanted to provide professional grade orchestral concerts; and perhaps most importantly, we wanted to reach new audiences."
"My friends would often say to me that they thought orchestra concerts were too formal," he added. "They're used to rock 'n' roll. And, frankly, I believe to reach a younger audience, we have to think in terms of a rock concert. So, this blending of movies and soundtracks is a great way of making the concerts more appealing to audiences, who might otherwise not go to what they think would be a stuffy environment, playing 16th Century music."
"Christmas at the Movies" follows other similar concerts, performed by the orchestra, but is the first with a holiday theme.
Joining the nearly-40 musicians lined up for the Christmas show, a 40-member choir will be adding vocals to the mix, as seamlessly as "Edward Scissorhands" trims hair.
"We're very fortunate to have so many good musicians and singers in this area," said Mr. Collins, who was raised in Cocoa Beach. "That talent has allowed SCSO to grow beyond my wildest dreams. We started out five years ago with $25 and a Snickers bar. Now, we've become a thriving corporation that mentors young talent, while giving professional players a chance to perform.
Hopefully, Mr. Collins added, the orchestra is also bringing in new audiences to expose them to such music.
"Frankly, it's a lot of work," he said. "But I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Mr. Collins said some of the most difficult work in the movie/concert series takes place behind-the-scenes.
Contracts have to be made with the film studios for permission to use the movie footage, as well as purchasing the actual musical scores. Then comes the rehearsing and staging, followed by the actual performance.
This particular concert will also feature one of the world's most gifted young violinists, Dmitry 'Daniel' Askerov.
Born in Russia in 1993, Daniel immigrated to Israel as a 2-year-old child, and by age 6, was studying violin at the Beit-Shemesh Conservatory.
According to his website, Daniel is a laureate of the 2000 Maestro Competition, Tel Aviv and a recipient of America-Israel Cultural Foundation awards.
He also won second prize at the 2006 international Remember Enescu violin competition in Romania and was awarded a diploma at the New Names International competition in Russia in 2008. He also won first prize at the Chamber music competition of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in 2011.
The following year, Daniel won the Clairmont competition in his adopted homeland and performed at New York City's Carnegie Hall in July of this year.
"We're very pleased to be able to present a young musician of this caliber to our local audience," Mr. Collins said. "It will be a great performance and a fantastic night of music. It's the perfect way to get warmed up for the holiday season."
The "Christmas at the Movies" concert will be Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Scott Center Auditorium at Holy Trinity, 5625 Holy Trinity Drive, Melbourne. The cost is $20 for adults, and is free to anyone 18 and younger.
"We do charge for the concert, but all the money we earn is plowed back into the company, so we can continue to provide quality productions for our local residents," Mr. Collins said.
He also added that discounted tickets and additional information is available through the group's website at www.spacecoastsymphony.org or by calling (855) 252-7276.