NSO performs a century of Disney at Kennedy Center

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Disney in Concert' at Kennedy Center (Part 1)

It’s time to put on your Mickey Mouse ears and head to the nation’s capital this weekend!

The renowned National Symphony Orchestra will perform “Disney in Concert: The Sound of Magic” at the prestigious Kennedy Center Concert Hall in D.C. on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23.

The event celebrates 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, which was founded on Oct. 16, 1923.

“This concert celebrates Disney’s 100 years of animation,” conductor Christopher Dragon told WTOP. “It’s incredible to think of the legacy this company has on everybody’s lives. Even grandparents today have grown up listening to Disney’s music, so it’s a company we’ve all grown up with and I’m thrilled to be performing the music.”

Audiences will see a montage of animation on a giant screen as the NSO performs scores from 26 films.

“Nothing can compare to hearing an 80- or 90-piece orchestra play the music live,” Dragon said. “Experiencing the musicians playing this music and feeling the vibrations hit your skin … there is nothing that can recreate it. … To experience it live really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for any kids that haven’t been to a symphony concert before. This is a perfect way of introducing them to what an orchestra actually is.”

The prolific set list draws from the archetypal princess classics of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), “Cinderella” (1950) and “Sleeping Beauty” (1959), as well as other masterpieces of early Disney cel animation, including “Pinocchio” (1940), “Fantasia” (1940), “Dumbo” (1941) and “Bambi” (1942).

You’ll also hear songs from the mid-20th century, including “You Can Fly” from “Peter Pan” (1953) and “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” (1967), which was the last film Walt Disney worked on before his death.

Millennials will enjoy tunes from the Disney Renaissance era that saved Disney Animation from bankruptcy with “The Little Mermaid” (1989), “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), “Aladdin” (1992) and “The Lion King” (1994).

“I’m a kid from the ’90s, so this to me is the Golden Age of Disney, this was basically my childhood,” Dragon said, before naming a few favorites. “Of course from ‘Aladdin’ we have ‘A Whole New World,’ a song that has stood the test of time.” 

Finally, Gen Z kids and parents will sing along to “Frozen” (2013), “Moana” (2016) and “Encanto” (2021).

“I don’t think it would be possible to do this concert without music from ‘Frozen,'” Dragon said. “All parents are going to know this movie because of their kids.”

Tickets range from $39 to $99.

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Disney in Concert' at Kennedy Center (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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