Saturday, September 4, 2010

John Williams + ESO= Love.

It was another lovely evening out at the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra's Symphony Under the Sky tonight. Don't get me wrong, the weather was questionable beforehand (there was a misty drizzle in the late afternoon), and it was pretty chilly, but the concert remained outdoors. It didn't rain for much longer after they opened the gates at 6pm and some Star Wars characters even made their way out into the crowd to mingle with the audience in support of the movie themed evening.

The repertoire from tonight's concert was either written by John Williams or at least arranged by him. The man behind epic film scores such as Superman, Harry Potter, Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler's List (just to name a few) produces film music nothing short of spectacular. Conductor Bob Bernhardt cracked a joke stating that although Beethoven is famous for the first 4 notes of Symphony No. 5, John Williams has him beat by 2 notes since the famous opening of Jaws only needs 2 notes for instant recognition.

The evening began with a march from Superman. I didn't recognize it personally but there was an avid group of Engineering students near me that were clutching their lawn chairs with great fervor while listening to the music. Superman's march was followed by "Sayuri's Theme" from Memoirs of a Geisha. Probably not one of Williams' most iconic themes, however, I liked how the ESO incorporated a program that showcased the diverse scores that Williams tackled in his career. "Flight to Neverland" from Hook had a lovely soaring quality and it was a refreshing change for the sun make an appearance during the piece.

Following this was possibly one of the main highlights of the concert: three movements from Schindler's List. Karen Gomyo, from the previous night, was the violin soloist yet again (props to the ESO for making efficient use of their soloist) for "Jewish Town", "Remembrances" and the "Main Theme," which is the one that most people will recognize. It's hard to describe the music that was generated from the stage. Gomyo had such an evenly pressured and fluid bowing technique that the musical lines she created were just seamless and her tone never wavered no matter high the frequency. It was just exquisite. Selections from Jurassic Park followed Schindler's List before the intermission.

"Harry's Wondrous World" from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was a lovely reintroduction to the concert after the intermission. I've almost forgotten how much of a role Harry Potter had in the formative years of my adolescence but hearing the music again reminded me. After the 7th book, I have felt my passion for the series dwindle, it didn't helped that they pushed back the date of the last film and split it into 2 movies. It feels like they're dragging out the inevitable. Gomyo came back out again to play a Williams arrangement of "Fiddler on the Roof" from Jerry Bock's musical score and "Por Una Cabeza" which was also a William arrangement. These two pieces were another highlight of the evening. Gomyo performed with a very playful and seductive quality and she received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of each of them.

The rest of the program were pretty much the greatest hits from Star Wars: "The Flag Parade" and "Anakin's Theme" from Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, and "The Imperial March" and the "Throne Room and End Title" from Star Wars IV: A New Hope. I think the latter 2 pieces especially since they showcase all the iconic tunes from Star Wars. Especially the "Throne room and End Title" which is pretty much a reprise of all the major musical themes from the film. During the last piece, the Star Wars characters which were mingling throughout the park beforehand, came back out to form a unified front facing the audience as their themes played behind them.
Now I feel like watching Star Wars!

Overall, it was a chilly evening out but it's worth it when you have wonderful music keeping you company. They will be playing an evening of Billy Joel and Elton John piano tunes tomorrow night but I won't be back at the park until Monday afternoon when they have a program of Canadian-centric tunes.

Enjoy some more pictures below!

It was hard to resist a picture with some Star Wars icons

The bounty hunter was awesome. They always posed with their double pistols. I also like how it looks like they're chasing after the little girl.

Staying dry from the rain

Staying warm on the grass before the concert

If you look closely you can see the unified Star Wars front


Miss Sarah said...

Mom with Darth? Classic.

misssable said...

Agreed! She was so excited. She was hoping they would walk into the grass section to take pictures with her but she eventually got up from her chair and walked to them :)