Charlotte Symphony’s Christopher James Lees on the rewards of playing film scores

Posted on: December 19, 2018

“When he takes the Ovens Auditorium podium Dec. 28 to conduct the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra … Christopher James Lees and his musicians will be ruled for one hour and 55 minutes by a two-foot-wide electronic contraption,” writes Lawrence Toppman in Tuesday’s (12/18) Charlotte Observer (N.C.). “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…. ‘At “Back to the Future” … you heard a thousand people laughing…. There was a buzz the whole night.’ … CSO President/CEO Mary Deissler says, ‘For “Back to the Future,” the audience was over three-quarters new attendees. At “Home Alone,” 60 percent were new.’ … Lees … learns the score as he would any unfamiliar piece. Then he gets a conducting package with a click-track, a metronome beat that sounds in his ears as a series of vertical bars pass across a screen in front of him. Red, yellow and green pulses alert him to stop and start the orchestra…. ‘Film writing can be quite virtuosic,’ he says…. ‘We believe in it as much as anything we play.’ ”

Posted December 19, 2018

In photo: Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees conducts the orchestra in the score of “Home Alone” as the movie is screened live.