Symphony enriches lives of people of all ages

The Disney production of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is returning to Gallagher Bluedorn big screen for a concert presentation by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. The symphony’s full orchestra will be playing live along with the film. 

Artistic director Pauline Barrett and conductor Jason Weinberger said it was a perfect time for the film as people are already in the holiday season. “We have this opportunity to play this movie, ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas.’ It’s perfect. It sits right there between Halloween and Christmas, so it’s something people will be thinking about already in their lives,” Weinberger said. 

Also wanting to attract more diverse and younger crowds with their pieces, Weinberger chose this film as a way to do so. “I think Napster was the first thing that changed the game, but now really the way people listen to music, that’s really revolutionized the whole industry. I think that period of time is about 10 or 15 years, has really been when orchestras have tried to think about how can we attract  more of a diverse audience and a younger audience,” he said. 

From Weinberger’s experience working with a  symphony and playing a musical instrument in high school, he said that listening and participating in music is really beneficial to one’s development. “For me, personally, my experience playing music as a middle school/high school kid was amazing. It totally changed my life, set me on my path. I think it is an activity that gives back to you as much as you put into it, or in that sense, it’s really wonderful to do at that point in your life,” Weinberger said. “When I was in high school, I used to go hear my local orchestra. I got kind of involved with them, helping to promote their concerts at my high school, and that was really important to me because I had a great experience hearing some of these pieces. I learned a lot about music, saw what was out there, what the possibilities were.” 

From the exposure of to a symphony or orchestra, Weinberger said he thinks children are more likely to gravitate toward instruments and explore music. “I think definitely in my experience when kids have heard a symphony/orchestra play they seem more inclined to play an instrument so I think that in and out of itself is a kind of a pretty big deal.” 

Whether or not one plays an instrument now or will ever in one’s life, Weinberger said listening to a piece of music is an enriching experience and takes one out of their normal routine. “There is kind of a whole world of experiences that you don’t have in your daily lives or you don’t get through TV or whatever. Regardless of if you play an instrument or not, it’s like a window into a whole other world in your regular routine. It’s quite unique, and it has this incredible history. It’s very much a living art,” he said. 

Because of the enrichment and learning one receives from listening to music, Weinberger wants to expose more kids and more diverse crowds to the art. Weinberger also said the symphony is a wonderful way to lead children to a life full of music. “I also think if kids get a chance to make music, that’s the best possible outcome. Sometimes we’re performing music for families and kids, and there is a message there. This is almost your gateway and the next step you’re off and starting to sing in choir or playing in band. It’s something that changed a lot of people’s life, and so that’s why it’s one of the things we focus on,” he said. 

Tickets for the show are available on the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony website at or at the Gallagher Bluedorn box office.

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