What was your ‘Fantasia’ experience?

This is a short bit from a recent grant.  It explains what I call a ‘fantasia’ experience and how that ties in to my new event series.  What was your fantasia experience?


When I was 12 I saw the film ‘Fantasia’. I couldn’t get enough. I stayed for every showing, went back every night til the show left – the ticket taker eventually just waved me in.

Unlike most classical types, I didn’t grow up with it. This was my life-changing experience. That weekend, I grabbed one of those old cassette players from days of old, with the tape that had been reused a hundred times, and recorded ‘the nutcracker suite’ onto it from an old battered record and a record player that the arm had gotten sat on.

Every night I placed that player on my chest and listened to that music… and I FELT, for the first time in many years. My emotions had been completely walled off, the result from earlier life experiences, but the music of Tchaikovsky, especially the music that we take so much for granted, opened my heart. The feeling was like spring… and yes :), this led to my ‘summer of Stravinsky’ between the 11 and 12th grades which cemented my life path as a composer and artist.

I call that initial experience, a ‘Fantasia’ experience. I don’t expect all the young people in the audience for my events to have a Fantasia experience like mine, but if one did?… Or their minds were just opened to the full power of imagination that new music and art can give, especially when delivered by the deeply talented and loving artists in my troupe, then it is what it is all about for me. I often have my guest artists speak of their own early experiences, their own Fantasia moments.

Equally, is the reminding of the adults of when they might have had similar experiences when they were young. May not have led to careers in the arts, but they might remember that feeling and reawaken it in their minds and hearts, thus nurturing their lives.

There are other things too, like environmental awareness and protection, identification with nature, and overall educational goals, through the music and stories. I believe that experiencing our work is of tremendous value to the minds of the listeners, all ages.

This is how we change the world. Or refurbish it, remind, nurture the imagination, remember that the dark places are not owned by terrorists, but by artists.

Come to the event – Sunday, December 2 – 11AM (family prime time) – at the Glorious Mark O’Donnell Theater (160 Schermerhorn, Brooklyn). See for yourself. Bring young people, older people, and your imagination!

One thought on “What was your ‘Fantasia’ experience?”

  1. I didn’t see Fantasia until I was eighteen. By then I was thoroughly familiar with all of the orchestral works in it and had played most of them. Certainly I was enthralled by the artistry of the film, but as far as the music was concerned my thoughts were along the lines of “What’s with all the cuts?” and “Hey, Mussorgsky didn’t write those artificial harmonics!”

    I saw Fantasia for the second time with jolly old George Rosenbaum in 1985. By then the film had been furnished with a new soundtrack, in Dolby, as the original Stokowski recording had begun to decay; but the new soundtrack, apart from being a tad out of sync from time to time, seemed to underscore how faded the Technicolor had become. Now I have the Platinum Edition collector’s DVD with picture and sound restored to their original glory. I can watch it whenever I please, and I frequently do.

    But that’s not the experience you were talking about, is it?

    I had a few classical records as a child, like Swan Lake and Carnival of the Animals, and I loved them, but no more or less than Mary Poppins or the Partridge Family. What really got me hooked was a set of eight old music appreciation books of my mother’s, which I discovered when I was around twelve. Each was about a single symphony — Beethoven 5, Brahms 1 and 3, Tchaikovsky 4 and 6, Mozart 40, Schubert Unfinished and Franck D minor. In each book the melody line of the entire symphony was written out and organised like an outline elucidating the form of the work. This is where I first learned about sonata form, rondo, binary and ternary, theme and variations, etc. When I followed along with the books while listening to the music (all of these symphonies were available on LP at the public libraries), I began to understand its structure and organisation. This when music began to have a powerful emotional effect on me — when I learned that music is beautiful not only sensually, but in profoundly deeper ways.

    Moral: Support your local public libraries and music educators. They make life worth living for everyone.

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