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Here’s what it takes for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra to add live music to ‘E.T.’

Dec 18, 2018

Think of Christopher James Lees as the happy warden of a beautiful prison.

When he takes the Ovens Auditorium podium Dec. 28 to conduct the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, he'll have to forget everything he's learned about personalized interpretation of a score. He and his musicians will be ruled for one hour and 55 minutes by a two-foot-wide electronic contraption, which pulses beams of light to tell them what to do.

Yet as he prepares to lead John Williams' full score for "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," he's happy.

"I refer to the click-track as the world's most inflexible soloist," says the CSO's resident conductor. "You're accompanying a film, and you're strictly subservient to visual images. You're looking for perfect synchronicity, that exact marriage of visuals and sound. When you get it...."


"At 'Back to the Future,' Belk Theater became the city's living room. The audience shared a familiar experience with a live orchestra, watching it on a bigger screen than they'd find anywhere else. You heard a thousand people laughing together at jokes they'd forgotten. There was a buzz the whole night not ambient noise, but excitement."
By Lawrence Toppman, Arts Correspondent, The Charlotte Observer

Read the full article here.