It is such a treat that my local professional orchestra, The North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (NNO), plays a concert dedicated to film music every year. This year, I was even luckier because they had already done an extra open air concert in August, which was also conducted by Christian Schumann. Open air concerts can be quite entertaining and are perfect for people who do not want to pay a fee, but are still interested in the music that will be played. One thing that always suffers at an open air concert is the quality of the sound. This concert however was in a concert hall and without amplification.
The program started off with the famous “Also sprach Zarathustra.” However, it was played with a twist, as not Schumann but the host of the evening, Hadewych Minis, entered the stage with a baton in her hand and started conducting the piece. When she was done, she told us about the two pieces that would be played next. Traditionally this annual concert always starts with a couple of classical pieces that are used in movies. This year they were “Danse Macabre” and “Ouverture La Gazza Ladra”, both of which were conducted by Schumann, who would continue to conduct the rest of the evening. There is only one thing I can say about these two pieces: they were just perfectly executed and both were a pleasure to listen to.
Right before the intermission, we could listen to the first pieces that were composed exclusively for the movies. They were from Amélie and from the first two Harry Potter movies. This might actually have been the first time ever that I heard music from Amelie played live by an orchestra in a concert hall. I really love that soundtrack and, therefore, hearing “J’y Suis Jamais Allé”, “La Valse d’Amélie”, and “Les Jours Tristes” performed live felt like a special privilege to me. The first Harry Potter piece was music from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I did not really recognize as a track from the album, but I suspect it was a suite from the whole movie. The second was “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In my honest opinion, the orchestra played both Harry Potter pieces very well played.
After the intermission we could listen to music from The Dark Knight Rises, composed by Hans Zimmer. Every time I see this movie on a program, I am thinking back to the Hans Zimmer concert I attended in Hamburg. That piece was so loud, that without earplugs, it would have been very unpleasant to listen to. With that in mind, I was very curious how it would sound played by an orchestra in a concert hall without any amplification. The result was absolutely stunning. NNO with Schumann at the helm made me cry during the emotional part in the middle of the piece. The parts before and after were also very enjoyable in this setting. It was a perfect start to the second half, which was filled with all kinds of film music classics . We could listen to “The Flight to Neverland” from Hook, music from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and a medley of James Bond songs, for which the orchestra got some help from a drummer and a guitar player.
After a standing ovation, we were treated to two encores. One was “Misirlou” from Pulp Fiction, which had people dancing in front of the stage or in front of their own chair. The second piece was from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – a solid finale for a great evening.
Whenever I attend a concert of NNO, I always come to the conclusion that the orchestra is very capable of playing the classical pieces in the first half of the program, and while the film music pieces are enjoyable to listen to, they are usually missing something that film music needs, like some small mistakes, different tempo or played differently than I know. However, I am delighted to say that this concert was absolutely perfect from beginning to end. I did not notice any big slip-ups or imbalances in the music at all. Maybe this is because of Schumann’s leadership, as a film music veteran, or that the orchestra is starting to get used to playing film music – I will probably never know. I have one small nagging point though. They had one of my favorite film music pieces from How to Train your Dragon on the program, but they ended up not playing it. This left me a little disappointed since the concert was going so well, I was hoping for a good performance of said piece. Nonetheless, I think this was by far NNO’s best performance of a film music concert to date, and I will eagerly anticipate their next concert.
Where and when: Groningen, the Netherlands – November 9th 2017
Orchestra: The North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christian Schumann
Host: Hadewych Minis
- Richard Strauss – Also sprach Zarathustra
- Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse macabre
- Gioacchino Rossini – La Gazza ladra: Ouverture
- Yann Tiersen – Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
- “J’y Suis Jamais Allé”
- “La Valse d’Amélie”
- “Les Jours Tristes”
- John Williams – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- John Williams – “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Hans Zimmer – The Dark Knight Rises
- John Williams – “The Flight to Neverland” from Hook
- Klaus Badelt – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Stanley Black (arranger) – James Bond Medley
- Rick Dale – Misirlou from Pulp Fiction (Encore)
- Ennio Morricone – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (encore)