‘Epiphany Gala 2023 – Tribute to Walt Disney’ in Malaga – Concert summary

On Sunday, January 8, the extraordinary concert of the Epiphany Gala of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, took place in Malaga, Spain, featuring Octavio J. Peidró on the podium, accompanied by the voices of soprano Paula Ramírez Álvarez and tenor Vicente Bujalance Leal (read more).


Our collaborator Reme Díaz attended the concert and leaves us this detailed summary.




Among the musical traditions that come with the New Year, apart from the famous Vienna concert, there are the family concerts around the Epiphany date, which take advantage of the holidays to bring music to the public not used to these events.


And nothing better than starting the year (and finishing Christmas holidays) with a tribute to Walt Disney through a program with different soundtracks from the “dream factory”, performed by the Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga (OFM) and conducted on this special occasion by Maestro Octavio J. Peidró.


The concert was held on Sunday, January 8, in the main auditorium of the Malaga Trade Fair and Conference Center (FYCMA), a great venue for conferences and exhibitions but not so good for hosting such a musical event. Despite its large capacity of 900 seats, which was sold out with an audience of all ages (among which we could see many children dressed as their favorite Disney or Marvel characters), the acoustics, the sound, and the lighting of the auditorium were unworthy of the wonderful work of the orchestra and the soloists, the soprano Paula Ramírez Álvarez and the tenor Vicente Bujalance Leal.

‘Epiphany Gala 2023 – Tribute to Walt Disney’ in Malaga - Concert summary


We missed being able to enjoy the surround sound of the orchestra, which could hardly fit on the stage, especially at the beginning of the program where the first theme, The Lion King Suite, could barely be heard at the back of the auditorium. The string instruments were almost canceled out by the brass section and percussion. Curiously, at each pause in the Suite, a part of the public started to applaud, which shows that even if they weren’t very experienced in this type of concerts, music excites us regardless of the age or the conditions of the venue.

‘Epiphany Gala 2023 – Tribute to Walt Disney’ in Malaga - Concert summary


Strictly following the order of the program, already in the second piece, the song Something There from Beauty and the Beast (with arrangements by the conductor, Octavio J. Peidró), this issue was partially solved, although the fantastic voices of the soloists were almost completely masked by the sound of the orchestra at its peak moments.


Also with arrangements by Octavio J. Peidró, we could enjoy the main theme from Pocahontas, Colors of the wind, masterfully performed by soprano Paula Ramírez, who gave the song (composed by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman) her operatic style. This part of the concert reminded us of the selection of songs from the past Hollywood in Vienna tribute to Alan Menken, saving the differences in terms of the venue and the scenography.


A Suite from Mulan (arranged by A. Courage from the original soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith) was then performed by the OFM, though we would have loved to continue enjoying Paula’s voice singing Reflection, the main theme from the 1998 movie.


It didn’t take long for Paula to return to the stage, this time to thrill us with a moving interpretation of the theme God Help the Outcasts from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A film whose soundtrack (composed by Alan Menken and arranged for the concert by Octavio J. Peidró) is forgotten in many Disney tributes and which, due to its quality and musical complexity, we were happy to have on the program of this concert twice, since that almost at the end of it the duet Someday by Paula and Vicente was also performed.

‘Epiphany Gala 2023 – Tribute to Walt Disney’ in Malaga - Concert summary


This soprano-tenor duet took over halfway through the concert to return to The Beauty and the Beast with the main theme, where they shone more as soloists than in the part in which they combined their voices, perhaps due to the more operatic range of Paula and the “Operetta” style of Vicente.


It caught our attention that the program didn’t gather the themes of each movie, having jumps in their chronological order and even mixing animated films with live-action films from different periods and genres. Famous themes from movies such as Frozen or Tangled were missing as well.


However, we were very excited to get the printed program, something unusual lately, and we appreciated that, although in the middle of twenty sponsors, we could be able to consult the pieces and the information of the performers and keep a lovely memory of the concert.


By the way, after a second duet from The Beauty and the Beast, the orchestra gave us one of the best musical moments of the evening with the performance of a wonderful symphonic suite from The Chronicles of Narnia, with arrangements by S. Bulla, and where for the first time we noticed that the orchestra was able to shine brightly and where Maestro Octavio J. Peidró transmitted his energy with a vigorous and passionate conduction that made him even jump off the stage several times. The long-standing ovation with which the public responded was a good example of this.


Afterwards, we returned to the animation of the 90s with Vicente Bujalance singing Go the Distance from the film Hercules, and we thought his powerful voice and lung capacity was on a level comparable to an elite athlete. Likewise, the song Part of Your Word from The Little Mermaid was one of the most emotional moments of the night, hand in hand of course with soprano Paula Ramírez.


Once again together on the stage, soprano and tenor combined acting and singing with their wonderful voices and a lovely connection between them and the orchestra for the classic theme from Mary Poppins, Chim Chim Chre-ee, arranged by Maestro Peidró from the very popular soundtrack composed by the Sherman brothers.


The program closed with a demanding suite from Pirates of the Caribbean, arranged by Ricketts, where the orchestra brilliantly performed the different themes by Klaus Badelt, and where the director surprised us again with his ability to jump on the stage and his movements full of energy and passion. The audience answered with a standing ovation and Maestro Peidró thanked and greeted every member of the orchestra, section by section, for their exceptional interpretation, as the OFM always does. We thought it was an excellent way to end the concert before “boarding” a new year, 2023.


But the magic of Disney didn’t end here. As a Christmas present, they surprised us with a suite that combined animation from the classic era, such as the theme I wanna be like you from The Jungle Book, with the soundtrack of Aladdin and the song Friend Like Me.

‘Epiphany Gala 2023 – Tribute to Walt Disney’ in Malaga - Concert summary


As if that weren’t enough, Mary Poppins returned to cheer us up with the songs A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilísticoexpialidocious, performed by soprano and tenor, where the audience sang and applauded encouraged by the conductor and amused by the sound of the orchestra.


At last, the concert came to an end after a long final ovation from the attendees. Despite the venue and the fact that the next day we returned to school or our work routines, for a couple of hours we were able to move to a magical world where dreams are the protagonists. A place where we were able to ask the Genie of the lamp that this new year should give us back the joy and illusion of when we were children.



Article by Reme Díaz

Pictures by David Maestre