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‘A Freak in Burbank:’ Alex Theatre concert to feature composer’s paean to Tim Burton

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will perform a piece titled “A Freak in Burbank” during an upcoming concert at the Alex Theatre.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will perform a piece titled “A Freak in Burbank” during an upcoming concert at the Alex Theatre.

(Courtesy of Lee Salem)

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard are looking to start off an upcoming concert on a more eccentric note.

One of Beethoven’s most celebrated works, Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” will be the headlining piece at the chamber’s concert at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Oct. 29. However, the night will open with a roughly 10-minute work called “A Freak in Burbank,” a composition making its West Coast debut and dedicated to the legendary and eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton.

“It’s a really fun, flashy, sort of mischievous piece of music and a really fun way to start the program before we start into the more serious fare,” said Scott Harrison, executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

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Albert Schnelzer has composed a piece titled "A Freak in Burbank," a musical homage to filmmaker Tim Burton, who grew up in Burbank. It will be performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on Oct. 29 and 30 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Albert Schnelzer has composed a piece titled “A Freak in Burbank," a musical homage to filmmaker Tim Burton, who grew up in Burbank. It will be performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on Oct. 29 and 30 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

(Courtesy of Hans Linden)

Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer, who wrote the piece several years ago, explained in an email that the composition started off as an idea to see how the music of composer Joseph Haydn could influence today’s music.

“There is also something very unpredictable about Haydn’s music that always makes it interesting,” Schnelzer wrote. “While I was starting out with this piece, I read a biography about Tim Burton and was immediately struck with the similarities between these two artists. The playfulness and the burlesque was something they both shared, so I decided to let Tim join us and see what would happen.”

Schnelzer said he is a fan of composer Danny Elfman, who is known for scoring many of Burton’s films. However, the Swedish composer’s goal was not to try and copy Elfman’s style, but rather capture who Burton is.

“The biography about Tim Burton’s childhood affected me quite a lot, and the sense of loneliness and sorrow you feel when you grow up if you are not like everyone else is something I think many of us can relate to,” Schnelzer wrote. “Being a ‘freak’ at one time or another is not easy. So, in many ways, this is a piece about you and me as well.”

“A Freak in Burbank” premiered in 2008 and has, so far, been performed more than 60 times by symphonies around the world.

Though the piece has been performed many times, Schnelzer said that he has not heard if Burton himself has listened to the composition.

“I know that the [British Broadcasting Corp.] tried to contact him in 2010 when this piece was performed at the BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall, but I don’t know if he ever got that message and what he thinks of the piece,” Schnelzer wrote. “I sincerely hope he understands that this is my homage to a great artist who has influenced so many people, and that being a freak, whether it’s in Burbank or Stockholm, is actually something to be proud of. We are all different.”

For ticket information, visit laco.org or call (213) 622-7001.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio


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