Philharmonia Fantastique Philharmonia Fantastique The Making of the Orchestra


Philharmonia Fantastique: The Making of the Orchestra is a 25-minute concerto composed by Mason Bates (The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs), accompanied by a film, produced by Vulcan Productions. The project was co-commissioned by five of America’s top orchestras—Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The project combines live-action and animation, taking audiences directly inside the instruments of the orchestra to see how they work.

For this massive undertaking, Bates enlisted seven-time Academy Award-winning Sound Designer Gary Rydstrom (Titanic) of LucasFilm and Skywalker Sound to serve as director for the film. Rydstrom in turn brought on animator and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Jim Capobianco (Mary Poppins: The Return). These three creative leads worked in tandem from start to finish, each of their ideas enhancing and influencing the others’ work.

While the film does not have a strict narrative, the team realized early on in the process that some sort of protagonist was necessary to provide a sense of unity. Nearly a year’s worth of character design resulted in the Sprite, an animated, mercurial, magical figure who serves as the audience’s guide through the orchestra and even inside the instruments themselves. The Sprite interacts with the conductor and musicians alike, connecting stage and screen.

The magical intersection between music and technology is a central tenet of Bates’ career, from his GRAMMY-winning opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs to his work as a DJ and curator for series like San Francisco’s Mercury Soul and KC Jukebox at the Kennedy Center. Bates’ most ambitious project to date comes to life with Philharmonia Fantastique, which positions the modern orchestra as the perfect synthesis of art and technology. “Music itself has always been a marriage of technology and art,” says Rydstrom. “We use both new and old technologies to explore how music comes together, how radically different sounds and techniques converge into the full sound of an orchestra.”


  • Directed by: Gary Rydstrom
  • Music by: Mason Bates
  • Written by: Gary Rydstrom & Mason Bates
  • Animation Director: Jim Capobianco
  • Produced by: Alex D. da Silva & Mason Bates

The Filmmakers

Photo of Gary Rydstrom

Gary Rydstrom Director

At Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound, Gary Rydstrom has sound designed and mixed many films...

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Photo of Mason Bates

Mason Bates Composer and Producer

Serves as the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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Photo of Jim Capobianco

Jim Capobianco Animation Director

Received the 2008 Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Ratatouille.

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