Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - Sci‐Fi Spectacular, January 17‐20
by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Review by Drew Bittner
Date: 13 January 2008
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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the sure hand of conductor Jack Everly, created a stirring evening of music drawn from the worlds of film and television science fiction.
Opening with the main theme to Star Wars, the orchestra delivered a powerhouse performance. As Everly noted in his opening remarks to the nearly full house, many of the pieces selected were composed by John Williams, who almost singlehandedly restored the prominence of symphonic scores in movies. Williams was represented by music from two of the Star Wars movies as well as Superman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Early on, Everly challenged the audience to identify parts of a medley of science fiction TV themes. The SFRevu team identified The X-Files, Space: 1999, The Jetsons, Lost in Space (opening and closing themes), The Time Tunnel and a couple more.
Well into the first half of the program, Everly introduced the evening's special guest, who appeared in a green hazy light: George Takei (aka, Star Trek's Lt. Sulu and Heroes' Kaito Nakamura). With his world-famous baritone ideal for the occasion, Takei introduced vocalist Kristen Plumly, who accompanied the original show's main theme.
Ms. Plumly was not the only vocalist. Broadway performer Mike Eldred sang "Can You Read My Mind?" from Superman, then returned for a duet with Ms. Plumly in the second act.
The second act kicked off with "Also Spake Zarathustra", perhaps better known as the title theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Everly noted that film maker Stanley Kubrick used a temporary track of classical music to give his composer, Alexander North, an idea of what he wanted. Although North completed what Everly described as a fantastic score, Kubrick opted to use his temporary track instead.
Takei's second appearance of the evening came during a world-premiere performance of music from The Day the Earth Stood Still, adapted from the original score by Bernard Herrmann (which relied heavily on unconventional instruments, such as theremins). He delivered Klaatu's final monologue to the Earth: (See the sidebar for the full speech)
I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.The evening concluded with back-to-back pieces from Star Wars, one from Phantom Menace (described by Everly as the first choral piece Williams had written for the series to date) and one from the first (now dubbed A New Hope), which was the heroic fanfare used during the finale (when Luke and Han were given medals by Princess Leia).
Truly a remarkable performance, amid many in a remarkable evening. SFRevu congratulates the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Everly, Mr. Takei, Ms. Plumly and Mr. Eldren, for a fantastic night at the Meyerhoff Auditorium.