Each year the German radio station Klassik Radio goes on tour through Germany with a film music concert. As can be read in their report, Saskia and Erik attended last year’s concert in Hamburg. This year it was my turn to see what this concert was about in Hanover.
Many concerts that I attend begin with a famous short piece used in films as an introduction and this concert was no exception: They used the well-known piece “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Like last year, there was a pre-recorded announcement that welcomed the audience and introduced Svenja Sellnow, the host of the evening. The concert was divided into blocks of music with sets of three pieces each, clustered around a specific theme. The first block was the ‘Star’ block, during which we could listen to music from the three ‘Star’ movies: Stargate, Star Wars and Star Trek. I really liked that they had chosen “Across the Stars” as the piece from Star Wars. It is a delicate and emotional piece between the more bombastic music from the suite of Stargate and the medley of different Star Trek movies that conductor Nic Raine had arranged himself.
For the next block – with the theme ‘love’ – Sellnow, after a small inquiry within the audience, interviewed a man who had been married for more than 40 years. The music in this block started with Doctor Zhivago, which is a piece that I do not know that well. “Comptine D’un Autre Été: L’après Midi” from Amélie, on the other hand, is a personal favorite of mine and is always a joy the listen to. I really loved it when the orchestra started to play to support the piano during this piece. Meet Joe Black composed by Thomas Newman was just as gorgeously performed and led to a big finale.
The history block, which was next, contained music from Elizabeth: The Golden Age, with the concertmaster playing a beautiful solo, and the music of The Crown, which had a fantastic musically build-up. The last piece before the intermission was from Dunkirk, including a part based on a theme by Sir Edward Elgar.
The second half began with a fantasy block that started out with Finding Neverland, which is a beautiful piece with many fast melodies, and especially the violins had to work hard to keep up. For the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, vocalist Naia Chvatal-Jones was introduced on stage to sing the beautiful “Long, Long Time Ago.” The suite from Stardust contained some wonderful and diverse pieces from the movie, creating an interesting varied suite.
The superhero movie block started with an interesting pick, with music from the latest Wonder Woman, including the famous melody that is originally played on electric cello but was done by the trumpet for this concert. Superman, composed by John Williams, is always a strong contender when the superhero theme is used in a concert. I really loved the fact that it was a suite instead of only the march. The suite also included the love theme, which is such a beautiful piece and I am amazed that I have never heard it live before, and cheering came from the audience when the piece was over. The block ended with a suite from Spider-Man: Homecoming. The music, written by Michael Giacchino, is very playful – resulting in me smiling and not being able to sit still.
The last block spread the holiday spirit with music from Christmas-themed movies, starting with music from Love Actually, which is very powerful and uplifting. The suite from Nightmare before Christmas was interesting, since it was fully instrumental with no songs. The Polar Express is, of course, a great suite to end this block with, because of its merry melodies.
The audience refused to go home without any encores, and we were treated to two of them. The first was very Christmassy with “The Sleigh Ride,” written by Leroy Anderson. For the second one, Nic Raine and the whole orchestra put on their sunglasses as they performed “Peter Gunn”, since it was used in the movie The Blues Brothers.
Where last year’s program consisted of many well-known pieces, this year’s program was more varied. As a matter of fact, most of the pieces were not obvious choices that I would expect from such a mainstream concert centered around a radio station. Most of the time you will hear the same well-known pieces, like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean or Harry Potter. I really liked the fact that they had chosen cues like “Across the Stars” and the love theme from Superman instead of other more famous pieces from the corresponding movies.
Also like last year, there were some problems with the lighting. This year we had some additional difficulties: occasionally, we were not able to see the musicians that well because of the lights within the stage. They also used moving spotlights in the back of the stage, and these were also pointing at me in the upper ring of the venue and blinded me completely. The worst thing for me was the location of the spotlight operator. I was sitting in a higher ring of the venue, where I am supposed to have a good view of the stage. I had, as can be seen on the pictures, a spotlight operator right in front of us, denying us that good view. When it comes to the production of the concert, I am a strong believer in making sure that the audience’s enjoyment is your top priority. Letting a person block the view of more than 15 people is considered bad practice in my book. There could have been so many simple solutions, like allowing the operator to sit down or placing the spotlight somewhere else. It felt that the main focus of the production team was to give the audience on the floor and the first ring an amazing show, even if that meant making sacrifices with regards to people on the second ring with mainly their lighting effects and partially by the placement of their crew. Since the second ring made up about one-third of the audience, I do not think that was the best decision.
Luckily, many things were done very well. The interaction between Sellnow and Raine was entertaining to watch, especially when Raine was speaking his broken German. I also liked the concept of the blocks with three music pieces each. After the introduction by the host, you could enjoy the cues without any interfering. They also tried to balance the loud fanfaric parts with emotional melodic ones, which made the music within the block interesting to listen to. Also, the titles of each piece appeared on the screens behind the orchestra to let the audience know which cue was playing. Despite the problems with production, I had a great time at this concert, mainly because of the interesting pieces that were played. I hope they will make improvements to make next year’s edition even better.
Where: Kuppelsaal – Hanover, Germany
When: December 1, 2018
Orchestra: Klassik Radio Pops Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine
Vocals: Naia Chvatal-Jones
Host: Svenja Sellnow
- Richard Strauss – “Also sprach Zarathustra”
- David Arnold – Stargate
- John Williams – “Across the Stars” from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
- Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith, Cliff Eidelman and Michael Giacchino – Star Trek Medley
- Maurice Jarr – Doctor Zhivago
- Yann Tiersen – “Comptine D’un Autre Été: L’après Midi” van Amélie
- Thomas Newman – Meet Joe Black
- “Whisper of a Thrill”
- “That Next Place”
- Craig Armstrong and A.R. Rahman – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
- Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson Williams – The Crown
- Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch and Sir Edward Elgar – Dunkirk
- Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – “Forgotten Overture” from Finding Neverland
- Javier Navarrete – “Long, Long Time Ago” from Pan’s Labyrinth
- Vocals: Naia Chvatal-Jones
- Ilan Eshkeri – Stardust
- Rupert Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – Wonder Woman
- John Williams – Suite from Superman
- Michael Giacchino – Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Craig Armstrong – Love themes from Love Actually
- Danny Elfman – Nightmare before Christmas
- Alan Silvestri – The Polar Express
- Leroy Anderson – “Sleigh Ride” (encore)
- Henry Mancini – “Peter Gunn Theme” (encore)