Film composer Hans Zimmer is one of the best acts at Coachella

If you have seen a blockbuster film within the last few decades, you may have heard the name Hans Zimmer. The Oscar-winning film composer has created a long list of beautiful music that perfectly accompanies about 150 popular movies, including “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lion King.” His talent can’t be seen on the big screen, but it can be heard — and it’s the reason the German composer has gained quite a large fan base.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Zimmer said he was always hesitant to perform in front of a crowd because he has “always had a problem with the way we present orchestral music.” He explained that he wanted to actually see the audience react to his music, instead of turning his back to the crowd and conducting. Then, he came up with a brilliant idea and played a set at Coachella.

Zimmer has pushed the limits of classical music throughout his career by making film scores that deviate from the genre. He’s worked with big names in the music industry like Pharrell Williams and The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr — who originally gave him the idea to perform — and even played in the rock group The Buggles, mainly known for their ‘70s hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

Even then, Zimmer refused to be conceptualized into one genre and play the same music. Just look at the range of his compositions. He’s written music for movies like “Kung Fu Panda” but also sci-fi thrillers like “Inception” and “Interstellar.” Each movie and score is unlike the other, yet Zimmer will find a way to enhance a film with his creatively written compositions.

When Zimmer was listed on the Coachella lineup, no one knew what to expect. Knowing that, Zimmer took full advantage and made the performance resemble more of a rock concert. He played instruments throughout the set instead of walking up and conducting it like a traditional composer. He had certain musicians stand and rock out, hyping up the crowd. There were epic light shows, but no scenes from the films themselves because he did not want them to overshadow the 70-plus musicians onstage. Zimmer’s performances were far from the classical music concert that your grandparents force your entire family to attend once a year.

Zimmer performed his set both weekends of the festival at a prime evening slot, overlapping times with big acts like Lorde and Tove Lo. He quickly caught the attention of the media and attendees, making him one of the most anticipated artists to see the second weekend — even with headliners like Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead.

In the midst of this attention, Zimmer announced he will be going on a world tour this summer. His first show in Helsinki, Finland, is only a few weeks away and is already sold out.

Each show on Zimmer’s tour does not take place at a typical orchestra hall. In New York City, he’s performing at the legendary Radio City Music Hall and in London he’s taking up all of Wembley Stadium. There are rumors that he may have special guests at certain shows, but nothing has been confirmed. Once again, Zimmer is trying to bring the rock concert atmosphere for people to enjoy.

He’s trying to take the stigma out of classical music, and it’s working.

Christine Chung is a senior communication and rhetorical studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. She can be reached at


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