The Appalachian
by Makayla Muñoz
Oct. 24, 2023

Although Hispanic Heritage Month came to a close on Oct. 15, the celebration of Hispanic culture continued through a special showing of Disney’s “Coco” with a live orchestra in the Schaefer Center on Oct. 19.

This concert, which is a part of The Schaefer Center Presents series, brought the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, National Folk Orchestra of Mexico, to Boone as a part of their two month long tour of North America.

According to Allison West, the director of marketing and public relations for the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs at App State, this live-to-film concert was the first time App State has presented this type of performance. The movie “Coco” was shown on the screen, but instead of the musical score being played as a part of the movie, the live orchestra was on stage playing the score in time with the movie.

West said there is a magical nature of pairing a film and live music together.

“It’s wonderful to see it on screen or hear it through speakers, but when you have an orchestra, it heightens it,” West said. “And to see those instruments come to life, like you can see on screen Miguel play the guitar and other musicians playing their instruments, but to see the real thing and hear it, you get goosebumps, because it’s all coming to life right there in front of your eyes and your ears.”

Part of what heightens the magic of the music is the blend of instruments that create the orchestra.

“The Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México stands out as a musical ensemble recognized for its keen ability to fuse instruments from both the pre-Hispanic and colonial eras to create a unique and distinctive sound that evokes the rich history and culture of Mexico,” the concert program said.

The concert used a mix of traditional orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos and cultural instruments such as a guitarrón and drums like the huehuetl and the teponaztli.

That’s not the only part that makes the concert stand out. Michael Giacchino wrote the original musical score for “Coco,” but the orchestra had its own spin on translating the score in the movie to live performance. Conductor and Music Director Esin Aydingoz spoke of differences between the two.

“The music that you hear in the movie was recorded by a bigger orchestra, but we cannot tour with a philharmonic orchestra,” Aydingoz said. “So Jeff Kryka from Michael Giacchino’s team reduced the score to be for a 20 piece orchestra.”

Along with Giacchino, the beauty of the performance would not have been possible without the songwriters working on the music. Artists such as Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez who wrote the award winning song “Remember Me,” along with co-songwriters such as Germaine Franco and Adrian Molina who worked on the piece.

The music brings fun and liveliness, but it is the culture that makes both the movie and the music impactful.

“It’s entertainment, but it’s also cultural awareness and introducing that to people who might not really have that opportunity to see or hear that all the time,” West said.

Aydingoz reflected on the similarity and sharing of culture between herself and the members of the orchestra with whom she has fostered fun yet meaningful relationships during the time of the tour.

“I’m from Turkey, they’re from Mexico. Even though we’ve grown up on the complete opposite sides of the world, I think both cultures are very similar in the sense that family means everything and that we are so welcoming to others,” Aydingoz said. “We very quickly became a family. Performing with them and bringing “Coco” to life every night in this new way while discovering more about Mexican culture on the road is such a party.”

Culture manifests itself in fascinating yet exciting ways no matter where in the world people are celebrating it, but what makes it truly beautiful and meaningful is how it can be shared with others.

“We want to offer something for everyone and to engage the community and engage students,” said West. “That’s really what we want to do – to create a rich cultural experience right here in Boone.”