“From the first few notes out of the National Symphony Orchestra last night, it was clear what the fuss is over guest conductor Cristian Macelaru,” writes Michael Andor Brodeur in last Friday’s (5/13) Washington Post. “The evening’s centerpiece [was] a newly commissioned work [by] Mason Bates, whose ‘Philharmonia Fantastique’ (a ‘concerto for orchestra and animated film’) explained why a massive screen was suspended above the orchestra….‘Philharmonia Fantastique’—commissioned by the NSO with five other orchestras [is] a section-by-section guided tour of the modern orchestra. Bates’s music was accompanied by an equally animated film created by sound designer and director Gary Rydstrom and writer/animator Jim Capobianco. With uncanny synchronicity, it transposes the composer’s sweeping score into a charming chronicle of a wide-eyed young listener—a ‘Sprite’—whose curiosity leads to a vibrantly colorful dive into not just the makings of an orchestra, but also the inner workings of its instruments.… Color-coded sound waves from different sections race by in three-dimensional staves like a game of Guitar Hero….‘Philharmonia Fantastique,’ with its sumptuous sonic palette, arresting visuals … and relentlessly clever turns of phrase … is the kind of musical experience that could easily light up some young imaginations.”