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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - Sci‐Fi Spectacular, January 17‐20 by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Review by Drew Bittner
BSO  
Date: 13 January 2008

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A stunning night at the theater for concert-goers and science fiction fans alike, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra enthralled a nearly filled auditorium with 15 selections from the world of film and television science fiction.

Klaatu's final monologue to the Earth:
I am leaving soon and you'll forgive me if I speak bluntly.

The universe grows smaller every day and the threat of aggression by any group anywhere can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle.

We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace.

In matters of aggression we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first signs of violence they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.

The result is we live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works.

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 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.

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