DreamWorks Animation Celebrates 20th Anniversary With 30,000 Fans and Fireworks at Hollywood Bowl

Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging
DreamWorks Animation in Concert

Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat and Jack Black joined the the L.A. Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for the company's birthday bash.

"DreamWorks has never had an evening event like this," said DreamWorks Animation chief creative officer Bill Damaschke backstage at the Hollywood Bowl as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, led by Thomas Wilkins, tuned up for DreamWorks Animation in Concert, the July 18-19 shows celebrating the toon titan's 20th anniversary. Over 30,000 fans turned up to watch the two orchestras perform with clips of DreamWorks films and fireworks, as well as Jack Black, Judith Hill, the USC Marching Band and a rare performance on guitar by composer Hans Zimmer.

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"I became a film composer because I had stage fright," said Zimmer, who seemed less nervous than jubilant at how far DWA has come in two decades. "I remember when it was dreaming and not much work — we had no letterhead or paper clips, and we still used Jeffrey [Katzenberg]'s office number as our corporate number. People would say, 'Let's get Jerry Goldsmith. Jeffrey said, 'Let's give young composers a chance. I think it's John and Harry's turn.'"

Zimmer deferred to Harry Gregson-Williams, who guest-conducted along with Alexandre Desplat. "I don't get out much, but tonight, I'm being a humble guitarist for maestro Harry," said Zimmer. "Guitar players get all the girls," said Gregson-Williams.

"Now we get to play the Hollywood Bowl and rehearse in Disney Concert Hall," said Zimmer. "If you have to have a garage band, you might as well have a good garage!"

The shows also featured work by John Powell, Alan Silvestri and Danny Elfman. "We don't have a house style," said Damaschke. "I feel we're very eclectic." Added Zimmer, "We tried to have a different sound. Glass marimbas, the shofar in Price of Egypt. I'm not saying other movies don't use exotic instruments, but we used rather a lot."

"There's a joyful nature in DWA movies, which is fantastic," said Gregson-Williams. "It's rarely dull, it's colorful." He and Zimmer recalled there was some difference of opinion over the emotional tone of the death of the firstborn in Prince of Egypt. "The first time Harry worked for us as an arranger of Prince of Egypt, he got into an argument with Jeffrey over a cue — should it be three melodies or one melody?" said Gregson-Williams. "Well, we used to get hell if we were somber. Thank God!"

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Asked about the personal touch that Katzenberg and Zimmer respectively bring to their collaboration, Damaschke said, "Jeffrey is definitely in that joyful place. And, I mean, Hans is German! But he understands joy and emotion and how to bring it out."

The DreamWorks Animation show is part of a tradition of studio-based Hollywood Bowl shows, including Paramount Pictures' 100th anniversary show, Warner Bros.' 85th anniversary concert and a 75th anniversary concert for 20th Century Fox. The DWA show may be performed again elsewhere. "There's a thought that we could tour it to philharmonics all over the world," said Damaschke.

Set list:

Opening Montage (Wilkins, H.B.O.)
Kung Fu Panda (Wilkins, H.B.O., Percussion)
Prince of Egypt and "When You Believe" (Judith Hill, Wilkins, H.B.O.)
Madagascar (Wilkins & H.B.O.)
Puss in Boots (Wilkins & H.B.O.)
How to Train Your Dragon (Wilkins, H.B.O., Percussion)
Croods (Silvestri, HBO, USC Marching Band)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Wilkins, H.B.O.)
Rise of the Guardians (Desplat, H.B.O.)
Shrek (Harry Gregson-Williams, H.B.O.)
"Hallelujah" (Judith Hill & Composer Band)
"I’m a Believer" (Jack Black, Composer Band, Wilkins, H.B.O.)
"I Like to Move It" (Danny Jacobs, Jack Black, Composer Band Wilkins, H.B.O.)