Radio and TV in the Netherlands did not really cover film music in the past. They still do not do it enough in my opinion, but 4 years ago a small change occurred. To give film music some exposure, an annual series of concerts called “Avond van de Filmmuziek” (Evening of Film Music) was produced in “Het Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam: the most beautiful venue we have here in the Netherlands. The concerts are performed by the Metropole Orchestra, an orchestra that won multiple Grammys, based in the Netherlands. It is the largest full-time ensemble of its kind in the world. The basic idea of this concert is both to entertain and to educate the audience about the concept of music in films. This 4th installment of the concert was live on national radio and will be aired on national TV.
The evening started with one of the best openings in the film music world: “Also Sprach Zarathustra“. The conductor of the evening, Vincent de Kort, is also a juror on the conducting contest TV-show called Maestro: a good reason to play the piece “Maestro” from The Holiday by Hans Zimmer. After a nice suite from Elle by Anne Dudley, including a huge spoiler on the screen, the orchestra performed an honorable tribute to Toots Thielemans, who passed away last year. A medley was played with pieces from Midnight Cowboy, Turks Fruit (Turkish Delight) and the Dutch TV show Baantjer which included beautiful solos by harmonica player Hermine Deurloo. She was such a fan of Thielemans that she sent him a cassette of recordings of herself on harmonica. He was kind enough to send a handwritten letter back. We could also enjoy a whistle solo from Geert Chatrou in the Medley: He walked casually down the stairs with his hand in his pocket while whistling the famous tune from Turks Fruit.
The next track was introduced by double bass player Dominic Seldis who performed the famous four starting notes in the title song for Goldeneye. He talked about the importance of music in movies and that John Williams is still writing by hand, with only his piano as his tool. Seldis later joined the orchestra with his double bass for Jaws.
The next piece we could enjoy was a nice James Horner which I have not heard that often in concerts: “A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics” from A Beautiful Mind with a solo by Noortje Herlaar. Herlaar is famous in the Netherlands for her part as Anna in the Disney movie Frozen. After this lovely piece, it was time for something special: entertainer and piano player Mike Boddé played music from the movie Betty Blue, composed by Gabriel Yared. He talked us through some movie scenes while playing the accompanying music on the piano. When the audience was done laughing and applauding his great performance it was the orchestra’s turn to play something by Yared. They played “The Promise” from The Talented Mr. Ripley. Looking in my program I was expecting the great “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission, but to my surprise it was not the famous oboe solo, but a very nice suite starting with the “Ava Maria Guarani” performed by the choir, a nice part in the middle by the orchestra and ending together with “On Earth As It Is In Heaven”. This was a real highlight for me. Judging by the applause, the rest of the audience agreed.
After the intermission, we were treated to another Dutch piece called “Victoria Hotel” from the movie Nieuwe Werken composed by Merlijn Snitker. It is always nice to hear new music from my own country. The next piece was, unfortunately, a bit of a mixup. They sadly swapped the name of the composer and the director. Clint Mansell did not direct Requiem for a Dream and Daren Aronofsky has not composed the music. But was very nice to hear a version of “Lux Aeterna” with full orchestra and choir. It was my second experience where the audience put hands over their ears due to the awesome loudness that Mansell’s music can be, while goosebumps appear all over my body. When it was done, loud cheers erupted from the audience.
Since there was a harmonica player present, it was common sense to play “The Man with the Harmonica” from Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in the West. The next item on the program really caught my attention beforehand: “Genesis” from Brimstone composed by Tom Holkenborg. Since I reviewed this score only last month, I was quite curious about it being performed live. I was very happy with it and I am glad that I picked this piece as one of the highlights of the score. Mike Boddé returned for a Love Actually suite. He did not talk this time but just played his part beautifully.
Next item of the program was this year’s public choice top 10 in film music. Only the top three were played on the concert. The third place was the theme of Schindler’s List performed by 15-year violin talent Noa Wildschut. It was by far the best version I have heard to date. She really moved the audience with her play. The second place went to “The James Bond theme” that has been used since Dr. No. The Metropole Orchestra is very experienced in jazzy-like music, making it quite a treat to listen to fun guitar riffs. And the winner was Pirates of the Caribbean which was received with great enthusiasm from the audience. To be complete, here are the rest of the themes of the movies in the top 10 in no particular order:
- Out of Africa
- Love theme from the Godfather
- Star Wars
- American Beauty
- Jurassic Park
As you can see, the list is very heavy on John Williams.
The last piece on the official program was “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter. It was played with a real celesta! It was magical: even the chandeliers were flickering.
Of course, there were some encores to close down the night. The first one was Danny Elfman’s Edward Scissorhands where we could say goodbye to the choir and the final piece of the evening was the very recognizable “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
When I heard about this concert, I thought it would be some kind of best of concert. A concert where we could enjoy some of the most famous film music pieces that everyone would recognize. Luckily for me, that was not the case. What I really loved about this concert was that it had a great mix of music from old movies, but also more recent ones. Some pieces were very well known, others were not. What also helped to make it a great night was the quality of the orchestra. I have now experienced myself how top-notch the Metropole Orchestra is. Being in what I now consider the best venue I have ever visited, is just the icing on the cake. There were, of course, some minor drawbacks. The screen showing the movie scenes stuttered from time to time, which was very annoying. Also showing the antagonist in Elle on the screen was a mistake, especially considering that it was only released last year.. And finally, the director/composer swap with Requiem for a Dream was an error that should not have happened. But all in all, this was still a great concert and I am looking forward to going again next year. Maybe I should book tickets a bit earlier so that my friend and I can sit next to each other.
Where and when: Amsterdam on February 24th, 2017
Orchestra: Metropole Orchestra conducted by Vincent de Kort
Guests: Mike Boddé (piano), Noortje Herlaar (soprano), Noa Wildschut (violin), Hermine Deurloo (harmonica) and Geert Chatrou (whistler)
- “Also Sprach Zarathustra” – Richard Strauss
- “Maestro” from The Holiday – Hans Zimmer
- Suite from Elle – Anne Dudley
- Toots Thielemans Medley (Midnight Cowboy, Turks Fruit, and Baantjer)
- “Shark theme” from Jaws – John Williams
- “A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics” from A Beautiful Mind – James Horner
- Music from Betty Blue – Gabriel Yared
- “Promise” from The Talented Mr. Ripley – Gabriel Yared
- Suite from The Mission – Ennio Morricone
- “Victoria Hotel” from Publieke Werken – Merlijn Snitker
- “Lux Aeterna” from Requiem for a Dream – Clint Mansell
- “The Man with the Harmonica” from Once upon a time in the West – Ennio Morricone
- “Genesis” from Brimstone – Tom Holkenborg
- Suite from Love Actually – Craig Armstrong
- Top 3:
- Schindler’s List
- James Bond
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
- Edward Scissorhands
- Raiders March