DSSO to play 'Jurassic Park' score live, with movie, Aug. 19

The Symphony Hall concert will see the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra performing the entire John Williams score during a screening of the 1993 blockbuster.

Two bearded white men, smiling, stand in front of dinosaur made of orange balloons.
At an April 10 news conference held at Symphony Hall in Duluth, DECC executive director Dan Hartman, left, and DSSO executive director Brandon VanWaeyenberghe pose with a dinosaur created by balloon artist Laural Schultze.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH β€” Come summer, fans of prehistoric thrills will once again be flocking this way.

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center has announced the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra will perform the score to "Jurassic Park" while the movie plays on a big screen at Symphony Hall on Aug. 19.

A visitor looks up as the Quetzalcoatlus opens its beak
A visitor looks up as the Quetzalcoatlus opens its beak and begins to turn its head down during a tour of Jurassic Quest in Pioneer Hall at the DECC on July 1. The touring attraction's popularity helped inspire the DECC and DSSO to plan a "Jurassic Park" performance this summer.
Jed Carlson / 2022 file / Superior Telegram

"This summer is the 30th anniversary" of Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster, noted DSSO Executive Director Brandon VanWaeyenberghe. The orchestra also "had a really great success with our concert back in February celebrating John Williams," who composed the "Jurassic Park" score.

DECC visitors seem to love dinosaurs, VanWaeyenberghe added. Last summer saw the animatronic dinosaur show Jurassic Quest sell so many tickets, organizers had to confirm there wasn't an accounting error. If ticket sales are that strong for the DSSO's "Jurassic Park" presentation, VanWaeyenberghe indicated, there's a possibility of adding a second performance.

The August concert won't be the first time the DSSO has performed a live film score. The orchestra did "Psycho" in 2012 and "The Wizard of Oz" in 2015. Tackling a (relatively) contemporary blockbuster, though, enters new territory.


Although the DSSO has long performed at the DECC, this film presentation marks a new level of collaboration between the orchestra and the municipal venue. The concert isn't part of the DSSO's regular season, and ticketing is being handled by the DECC.

At a Monday morning news conference, DECC Executive Director Dan Hartman explained the financial considerations at play.

"There's a real upfront cost to purchase these scores and do this experience," said Hartman. "If it wouldn't be (for) the financial backing of the DECC," combined with the skills of the DSSO artists and staff, Hartman continued, "this would never be a reality."

The show has been "almost two years in the planning," said VanWaeyenberghe. Guest conductor Jason Seber will lead the performance, which involves headsets for all the musicians so they can follow along precisely in tempo with the original score recording.

"There is no chance for alteration," VanWaeyenberghe explained. "When the T. rex starts moving, you have to move with it."

Still from movie "Jurassic Park," with white man holding a flare to distract a Tyrannosaurus Rex that's standing over a toppled Jeep.
Actor Sam Neill, as paleontologist Alan Grant, lures a Tyrannosaurus Rex away from two imperiled children in "Jurassic Park."
Contributed / DECC

Over the past decade, live-to-picture movie score performances have become a hot trend for orchestras around the world. Technological developments have made such performances feasible in a way they previously were not, and the film concerts tend to sell well β€” including among movie buffs who find Hans Zimmer to be a more compelling draw than Joseph Haydn.

"The Minnesota Orchestra does these all the time," said VanWaeyenberghe. "For us to take the leap to do something like this is really great for our community."

Tickets to the "Jurassic Park" performance go on sale to the public Friday, with presales available earlier through the DECC and the DSSO. For details, see


This story was updated at 12:46 p.m. April 10 to add images and information from a news conference. It was originally posted at 7 a.m. April 10.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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