Guest conductor Loh joins CSO for performance of beloved film “The Princess Bride”

Illustration by Henry Domst/Design Editor

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

Sometimes the soundtrack of a movie can be just as famous as the movie itself, just how the story of “The Princess Bride,” filled with romance, comedy, adventure and magic, is enhanced with its musical score. 

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform “The Princess Bride” in Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater. The live music and movie feature will be under the baton of guest conductor Lawrence Loh, conductor and music director of Symphoria.

Loh has led the Syracuse, New York, orchestra since 2015 and is frequently a guest conductor for major films. He has previously held conducting positions with the Pittsburgh Symphony, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Syracuse Opera, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, Dallas Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.

Even though “The Princess Bride” first hit theaters in 1987, Loh said audiences can experience the same anticipation as when it was newly released with the performance this Saturday. 

“When people line up to go to watch it with the orchestra, it has a similar kind of feeling of a big premiere of an event,” Loh said. “I just like that kind of atmosphere.” 

Seeing a movie with live music takes on a completely different stimulating experience, Loh said. He’s a huge fan of “The Princess Bride,” having performed it once before with the Phoenix Symphony. 

Compared to a usual orchestra performance, Loh said he enjoys the audience engagement, as they react to jokes, character appearances and well-known lines in the dialogue.

“They were laughing at everything and they were applauding,” he said. “They applauded when the orchestra played something really spectacular.”

Even for those unfamiliar with the film, Saturday’s CSO performance can be enjoyed by everyone, Loh said.

“It’s a really fun community and interactive experience,” Loh said. “For people that don’t know the movie, they’ll get to hear it in that kind of context of watching it in a community of people. It kind of amplifies everything, and just makes it so fun.”

From the perspective of a conductor, movie music and traditional orchestra performance are quite different. 

Loh said when playing along to a film, the musicians have little ability to make the music spontaneous. For example, in “The Princess Bride,” a sword fight is laid out perfectly in the score to coincide with different swings and strikes.

Originally, the movie’s soundtrack was created using a synthesizer to sample various orchestral instruments. Now, with the help of the CSO, “The Princess Bride” will be brought to a new life and create a “completely new experience.”

For Loh’s first visit to Chautauqua, he is looking forward to not only sharing the stage with the CSO for the first time, but also an old college friend, Bob Sydner, who is guitar soloist for this weekend’s performance.

They have yet to share the stage together until now.

“That’s very special to me,” Loh said. “I’m always looking forward to meeting a new orchestra, and I’ve heard great things about the Amphitheater and the atmosphere there.” 


The author Sarah Russo

Sarah Russo is a senior at Syracuse University studying broadcast and digital journalism. At Syracuse, she reports and hosts for CitrusTV and writes for The Daily Orange and Baked Magazine. Sarah also interned at the National Comedy Center last summer. When she’s not reporting, she enjoys being outside biking, swimming or reading. As a Chautauqua County native, Sarah is excited to work in a place close to home and her heart this summer. She will be covering the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.