'Kevin!': Springfield Symphony Orchestra to present Home Alone

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays, and this December it will sound a lot like a holiday favorite, too.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will present Home Alone at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center (PAC).

The performance – a motion-picture-with-orchestra event – will feature a screening of the classic holiday movie with the SSO performing the movie score live.

“It’s kind of the rage right now for orchestras that we have the technical ability to yank the music out of the soundtrack,” says Peter Stafford Wilson, SSO music director and conductor. “It’s the prime time for orchestras to present movies like this.

"You will see Home Alone just the way you remember it, but with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra playing Williams’s score. It will be the same experience,
but with live music.”

A holiday favorite, Home Alone is a comedy classic featuring renowned composer John Williams‘ charming and delightful score. Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an 8-year-old boy who’s accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation, and who must defend his home against two bungling thieves, according to the PAC website.

Hilarious and heartwarming, the movie itself combined with the sounds of the SSO creates a fresh night of local family fun.

Wilson says the Home Alone project itself has been available for several years, but the SSO has been planning for the performance for about 18 months.

Wilson says when he announced the 2022-23 season, Home Alone was well received by SSO performers.

“There is a lot of excitement,” he says. “One of the challenging things about listening to an orchestra concert is you have to use your imagination. There is no visual other than the orchestra themselves. We are a visually oriented society. Watching a movie with a live orchestra is a great way to get involved with the orchestra sound.”

Wilson says he once had the honor of preparing an orchestra for a program with John Williams.

“Much of the public is only exposed to the symphonic sound via movies, and we can be grateful to talents like John Williams and countless other movie composers who take that responsibility very seriously,” he says. “The impact of music on a film is extraordinary, and it’s something we rarely realize when were simply enjoying the film.” 

Wilson has conducted live motion picture music with the SSO for Silent Film, An American in Paris, and a compilation of movies, however, Home Alone is the first contemporary movie score performance.

He says the Home Alone performance appeals to families.

While Wilson will not be conducting the SSO for the Home Alone performance due to a schedule conflict with the Tulsa Ballet, he is confident the audience will be in for a fun and memorable time.

Ron Spigelman will be conducting the SSO Home Alone event at the invitation of Wilson.

“He does a lot of film scores,” Wilson says. “It’s become a specialized thing. I am sorry I’m going to miss it. I love the show, I love the score and William’s music.”

A native of Australia, Conductor Spigelman is an honors graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has been the Associate Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Fort Worth Symphony, Music Director of the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, San Angelo Symphony, Texas Chamber Orchestra, Springfield Symphony in Missouri, and the Lake Placid Sinfonietta in New York.

As a guest conductor he has appeared with numerous Symphony orchestras. He has been the Principal Pops Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony and the Syracuse Symphony and appears every season with the Tulsa Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Spigelman has many live film concerts, including for feature films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Fantasia, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, E.T, Home Alone, Polar Express, Nightmare Before Christmas, Psycho and seven of the Harry Potter films.

Spigelman says he was thrilled when Wilson invited him to conduct Home Alone – a score he has conducted several times – with the SSO.

“I have conducted over 20 films now live to projection, and the excitement level watching a movie this way is tenfold,” he says. “Music is such a powerful force in film, it is the true third dimension that gives it the depth needed to set the tone, propel the scene, scare you, make you laugh and heighten or even create the emotions felt. It is extremely powerful live.”

Spigelman will have a monitor with the film in front of him and “streamers” of different colors representing different things, such as as warning to start, tempo change, end of scene; plus, measure numbers and beats, pulsing dots for tempo, and an in-ear click track for beats. 

“We have to be as precise as possible, so all that information is needed,” Spigelman says. “The orchestra and choir then follow me as if it is a regular concert, but because I am so tied into the monitor, I don't have the freedom to get lost in their glorious sound, or something might be missed.”

Spigelman says the audience will experience a unique way to watch a movie and even get a little "Easter egg" in the end credits, “which everyone must stay for,” he says.

Spigelman wants the audience to have fun and react.

“It may be an orchestra concert, but there is no need to sit back and watch in silence, they can get involved with the movie, cheer, laugh, jeer and applaud as you would when at the cinema. We love hearing all of that,” he says. “Also, I am so excited to work with these musicians that Peter talks so highly of, I conduct in many places, but I always look forward to the personal interaction and getting to know people. The music world is not so much a small world as it is a large room, so it is almost certain I will meet several musicians with whom I have mutual friends.”

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.