Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Concert: Philadelphia Orchestra

Damon Gupton Conductor
Massamba Diop
 Talking Drum Soloist 

Göransson Black Panther (complete with film)

Released in 2018, Black Panther captivated audiences and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Rolling Stone raved, “The film lights up the screen with a full-throttle blast of action and fun. That’s to be expected. But what sneaks up and floors you are the film’s racial conscience and profound, astonishing beauty.” Experience this groundbreaking film while the Orchestra performs Ludwig Göransson’s Oscar-winning score and join audiences across the globe in shouting “Wakanda Forever!”

A portion of the ticket proceeds benefits United Negro College Fund Philadelphia.

Over the years, professional orchestras and symphonies have sought creative ways to reach new audiences. They performed with rock stars, covered popular music of nearly every genre, held concerts in unique or scenic locations, and provided free concerts to younger audiences to generate interest. A few years ago, I learned of another tactic designed to reach the screentime generation: playing the soundtrack to a popular movie while projecting it onto a giant screen for the audience to watch.  I did not find the idea of going to a concert with an active distraction from the performance of a high-caliber orchestra enticing. 

If it is popular enough for one of the world’s greatest orchestras, who am I to judge prematurely? So we headed off* to the Kimmel Cultural Campus Verizon Hall to watch Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Concert

As we entered the building we enjoyed a pleasant surprise; music filled the foyer as the KIPP West Philidelphia Preparatory Charter School performed a concert celebrating Black history. They sounded great! Far better than what is common for middle school and high school students. 

Our next surprise was the guest musician, Massamba Diop, who soloed the talking drum. His masterful playing easily became the highlight of the evening. 

I found it strange watching the movie and listening to the orchestra in a public setting. It took me about a half hour to figure out what was strange. Two things became apparent, first, all of the sound came from the front instead of the traditional surround sound. Second, the folly, music, and dialogue were not balanced like the carefully crafted tuning of a film’s final cut. 

The orchestra played beautifully and did not overpower the remaining soundtrack, yet it will take some time for me to prefer this format of a movie over the traditional set-up. 

After recognizing the differences, I stopped watching the movie and enjoyed the concert for the acoustic brilliance only a live orchestra can produce. 

Yet, as I stated at the beginning, this format was designed to reach a different audience than the traditional concert goer. Looking around the room, the audience was much younger (including children and many teenagers), and much more diverse than the usual group. I eaves dropped on conversations during intermission and the majority of those present expressed high praise. 

Therefore, if you are not usually a concert goer, and would like an introduction to the orchestra in a more approachable format, or love the movie they are accompanying, come and check out these combined movie concerts. They have stood the test of time for the last five years, and will likely continue in the future. 

To learn more about Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and to purchase tickets for yourselves, visit them online. There are still two more showings this weekend, a Saturday and Sunday matinee. Perfect activity to take your family to and enjoy an afternoon together!

*we were invited to facilitate a feature, all opinions are our own*

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