Reel Classics - 4ZZZ
By Dr Gemma Regan
The show must go on!
There were tears of joy and appreciation when the musicians of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra burst into life with the fanfare of Alfred Newman’s 20th Century Fox Theme celebrating Reel Classics as the first QSO concert at the QPAC Concert Hall after a six month lock-down. The recent worries melted away with the celebrated iconic movie music swelling the heart with nostalgia for the pre-Covid days when sitting in the usual packed audience was taken for granted. Fortunately, a dedication to the Arts allowed the QPAC to jump through every social distancing hoop, with new entry procedures, contact tracing, and a spaced-out audience, enabling the QSO to present their first concert back in two sittings. John Williams’ Star Wars was a fitting start to the re-launch of the 2020 season, with the trombones booming the stellar fanfare in defiance of the extreme world-wide circumstances to which humanity has been subjected.
Queensland’s opera singer Jason Barry-Smith hosted the concert of movie scores specially selected to evoke nostalgia. The tears and grins amongst the audience highlighted the powerful impression movie music can have on the psyche, with the hypnotically intense strings of Symphony No.7, one of Beethoven’s best received works. The famous Allegretto has been used to great effect in many movies, most recently when it accompanied the iconic speech by King George VI, performed by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech and is slow, majestic and magnificent. Magic was on the agenda next as the QSO presented Harry's Wondrous World from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Children's Suite for Orchestra. All were enraptured by the magical iconic theme from Williams, with the xylophone, harp and glockenspiel creating an enchanting and spellbinding atmosphere followed by the infamous heart-rending conclusion to Mario Puzzo’s The Godfather Part III instantly springs to mind on hearing Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. The orchestra’s poignant and moving performance had more audience members reaching for their tissues.
The beautifully simple Belle by Rachel Portman and Williams’ Princess Leia’s Theme celebrated female heroines with Portman winning an Academy Award for her score to the 1996 adaptation of Emma. The romantic Princess Leia’s Theme from Star Wars transitions between sparkling strings, French horn and flute to stir the cauldron of desire and feminine strength. Ennio Morricone’s love theme from Cinema Paradiso heightened the romance with the popular, schmaltzy excerpt, beginning with a moving violin solo from Concert Master Alan Smith. Johann Strauss Jrs’ delicious On the Beautiful Danube famously accompanied the docking spacecraft in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the spacecrafts “waltzed” together in deep space.
Howard Shore composed the epic symphonic suite for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings using the light-motif style of the prominent Ring Cycle composer, Wagner. Each character and scene has an emotive familiar melody evoking a subconscious response. The five percussionists of the QSO were in their element creating the discordant notes and five-bar beats for the terrifying Orcs of Mordor.
After soaring amongst the stars with John Williams’ flying theme from E.T. the orchestra and Australian conductor Dane Lam were confronted on stage by the cloaked evil Emperor bemoaning the recent box office losses! He must also have been affected by the lockdown as he was wielding a lightsaber instead of using his usual lightning dark force. After a brief skirmish, the Rebel Alliance from the QSO ejected him from the stage allowing the concert to end perfectly, for a massive Star Wars fan, with the jubilant Throne Room Theme from Star Wars and a triumphant wish from host Jason Barry-Smith of “May the force be with you, always”.
To quote Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater”. This was the most emotionally uplifting concerts ever given by the QSO and it will always be remembered for its poignancy. Celebrating the triumphant return of classical music to the QPAC should be an experience for all Queenslanders and Australians, fortunately the momentous concert was recorded to be shared with the nation on ABC Classic in the near future!