The Mountain Times
by Derek Halsey
Oct. 12, 2023

The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone will host a very special performance on October 19, that will combine live music of an acclaimed orchestra from Mexico performing in unison with the showing of the hit movie Coco.

In 2017, Disney Studios and Pixar Studios created and released the computer-animated movie Coco. Grossing over $800 worldwide after its release to theaters, the plot of the film focuses on the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead with the official synopsis describing the story as being about “the aspiring musician Miguel who, when confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Héctor and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.”

Now, in 2023, the idea was hatched to highlight the music side of the Coco story by gathering together 20 of the best musicians in Mexico to perform the soundtrack of the movie live onstage as it is being shown on a big screen behind them. That is the origin story of the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, who will be performing in Boone next Thursday.

Presented by the Appalachian State University Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, the Coco Live-To-Film Concert will take place at the Schaefer Center on October 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28 for the general public, $23 for App State faculty and staff, and $10 for students and kids. There will also be VIP tickets available for $75 that will include a commemorative lanyard necklace, a ‘light-up wand,’ and Coco Live fleece blanket, none of which will be available at the merch table at the concert.

During its initial run, Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as winning an Oscar for the film’s original song “Remember Me.”

Conducting the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México will be Esin Aydingoz.

Hailing from Istanbul, Türkiye (Turkey), Aydingoz earned a degree in both Film Scoring as well as for Contemporary Writing and Production at the famed Berklee College of Music. Since then, she quickly rose up in the field of film scoring while also writing original music for TV shows and video games.

Since her graduation in 2017, Aydingoz has become the Assistant Chair of Berklee’s Film Scoring Department while writing music for shows found on streaming services ranging from Netflix to Apple TV, Amazon Prime and the Hallmark Channel. Aydingoz’s arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black,” featured on the Tim Burton-directed hit show Wednesday on Netflix, not only reached the Number 1 slot on the Billboard Classical Music chart; the video version of the tune has garnered millions of views on YouTube and other various outlets as well.

While growing up in Turkey, Aydingoz grew to love music at an early age.

“When I was about four years old, my grandfather got me a toy keyboard and I loved it and it became my favorite toy,” said Aydingoz. “Later on, my parents brought in private piano teachers and then I eventually started going to a part-time music conservatory program. I love playing the piano, but I didn’t think that I would pursue it as a profession. Then, around the time that I was 13 years old, I discovered that I could write new music and that became my real passion.”

Once Aydingoz was captivated by the process of composing, she worked towards studying the art form at the collegiate level.

“That led me to the Berklee College of Music where I studied Film Scoring and Contemporary Writing and Production with a Musical Theater Writing minor,” said Aydingoz. “After graduating in 2017, I moved to Los Angeles and began to do internships there, including at Hans Zimmer’s studios. Eventually, I got to work on some cool projects as a music writer and arranger, including on the Netflix show Wednesday. And now, this is my first-ever conducting gig with the Coco Live-To-Film Concert and I am very happy that I get to do this every day for two months.”

While this 20-member version of Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México was created especially for this tour, all of the musicians in the troupe have previously played together with the famed Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano.

“Ballet Folclórico is a very famous ballet company in Mexico and they have been performing for over 60 years now, and they have a roster of musicians that work with them,” said Aydingoz. “Some of these musicians are more folkloric with their sound and some are more symphonic, and they put together this special orchestra for the purposes of this show. So, the group consists of musicians who have played together before on various other ballets.”

Because of the camaraderie and professionalism of the musicians in the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, it has made Aydingoz’s inaugural run as a Conductor memorable and enjoyable.

“It has been beautiful,” said Aydingoz. “I love Mexican culture and everybody has been so friendly that it has been very festive, and surprisingly not intimidating at all. Of course, going into this project and having my first conducting experience being such a huge opportunity, I had my self-doubts as every artist does. But, starting from the very first rehearsal, everything went so smoothly. The score of Coco has already been written perfectly by the amazing Michael Giacchino. So, I don’t really make creative decisions, I just get to shape the sound of the performance. I have power over how soft or how loud the orchestra plays, or how emotional and how passionately they perform. Through my body movements or facial expressions, I can change the sound and the energy, so I get to bring my musicality to the performance. Even though we are not changing the music and are performing it as written, it is different every show because it is being performed live. It is an adventure every night.”

Though Conductor Aydingoz is from Turkey and the orchestral musicians are from Mexico, with the two nations having oceans and continents and 7,000 miles between them, it is the shared love of music that has made this connection a positive one.

“Even though I am the conductor, I want them to first perceive me as a friend, as one of them,” said Aydingoz. “We don’t all speak the same language, but what we do only works when we share equal responsibility, trust and passion in delivering this performance and spreading joy together. We are like a family now, and that’s what Coco is all about: family.”