Every time The North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (NNO), a local professional orchestra, announces a concert with film music, I try to attend the concert in my hometown of Groningen. When their latest film music program with a Dutch title that translates to ‘Musical Movie Stars’ was performed in my town, I was still away attending the film music festival in Krakow, but luckily for me, the orchestra plays the same program multiple times in different cities and I was able to catch it in Drachten, a town close to mine in the venue called ‘De Lawei’. I have been to this venue many times: not to attend concerts, but to participate in contests with my own amateur concert band. For me it was a weird feeling to sit in the audience instead of being on stage. What I also found very interesting was that, although I bought my ticket online, I was able to walk right into the building and go to my seat, without the ticket being validated.
From my balcony seat I had a good view of the stage and at 8 PM the music started, but it did not come from the orchestra on stage: two trumpet players, two trombone players and a drummer came striding in from the back of the hall playing “Funeral Music for Queen Mary” by Henry Purcell, which Wendy Carlos adapted for A Clockwork Orange. After the musicians returned to their places within the orchestra the program continued joyfully with Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry Blue cat blues.
Between some of the pieces Dutch actress Anna Drijver had a little chat with the audience about what was going to be performed next, and when she was done with her first talk she walked to a seat in the middle of the orchestra. A couple of percussionists from the back were sitting on the floor of an elevated level of the stage next to her. From that location the percussionists were supporting the orchestra and the dedicated acoustic guitar player by clapping for the Spanish sounds of Alberto Iglesias’s Hable con Ella. After the classical piece “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” written by Paul Dukas, we came to my personal highlight of the evening: “The Rebellion is Reborn” from the latest Star Wars episode The Last Jedi. Playing a piece from John Williams well is not an easy task, but the orchestra did an outstanding job. I had not heard this piece at a concert before and I was glad that NNO had included it in their program.
The second half started beautifully with “Yumeji’s Theme” from In the Mood for Love, played by only the strings with a solo by the concertmaster and was followed by a couple of pieces from Nina Rota’s The Godfather. It was fun to see all the violin players holding their instruments like small guitars while plucking the strings. Before the finale of the concert, with music from Star Wars, we were treated to another classical piece. From Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake we could listen to “No. 1” and “No. 6”. The music is used in Black Swan, for which composer Clint Mansell had adapted the music from the ballet to fit in the score. It was a good performance, but to be honest I prefer Mansell’s version, which I have heard in Prague in 2018..
The best way to describe this concert is that it was a safe bet. Getting a high attendance for a film music concert is very difficult in the Netherlands. When, for example, the NNO announced a series of concerts with only music from film music composer Tom Holkenborg, the one I wanted to attend in Leeuwarden was unfortunately canceled because not enough tickets had been sold. That is sadly the state of film music concerts in the Netherlands. The way NNO approaches film music most of the time is to have a large part of the program being regular classical pieces, like for this concert “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Swan Lake.” Music from The Godfather and Star Wars is considered to be ‘good film music’ even if you do not know that much about music in movies. I loved the music from The Last Jedi, because aside from being a magnificent piece from the latest Star Wars movie, it is also very new, and it was played brilliantly by the orchestra. I do have to mention that the orchestra still wants to experiment with new music. After the success of the game music concert in 2017 , they announced a new game music concert for May 2020. I am looking forward to that concert as well, because, during this concert in Drachten, NNO has shown it is very capable of playing music outside of its regular classical repertoire.
Where: De Lawei – Drachten, The Netherlands
When: May 24, 2019
Orchestra: The North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra conducted by Damian Iorio
Host: Anna Drijver
- Henry Purcell – Funeral music for Queen Mary
- Jay Livingston (arr. Bob Zimmerman) – Looney Tunes
- Scott Bradley – Tom and Jerry Blue cat blues
- Alberto Iglesias – Hable con Ella
- Paul Dukas – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
- John Williams – “The Rebellion Reborn” from Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- Shigeru Umebayashi – “Yumeiji’s theme” from In the Mood for Love
- Nina Rota – The Godfather Suite
- Sicilian Pastorale
- The Brothers Mourn
- Love Theme
- Godfather’s Waltz
- Pyotr Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake
- No. 1 scene
- No. 6 Scene
- John Williams – “Main Title” from Star Wars
- John Williams – “Imperial March” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (encore)