Every summer, a series of concerts is organized in one of our top-notch venues for film music: Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. These concerts are sponsored by one of our biggest lotteries in the Netherlands, Vriendenloterij. They range in all kinds of performances, including jazz, solo artists, and the ones I care about: film music concerts. There were three exciting concerts in that genre this year. The first one was the movie Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi with live music performed by The Residentie Orkest from The Hague, conducted by Dirk Brossé. I attended their concert three years ago before the pandemic started, but unfortunately, I was not able to attend this year’s Star Wars concert. I was however present at the other two film music concerts, a concert with John Williams music and a film music concert dedicated to heroes.
A Tribute to John Williams
If you are a frequent visitor of this website, you know that I have already visited a few John Williams concerts this year. They are always a treat to attend, but it keeps getting more and more challenging for me to write about. Williams has written many superb scores, but I keep hearing the same popular pieces during these concerts, and it is hard to write something new and refreshing. I have to give special mention, though, to the performance of the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie, conducted by Gary Walker. Williams’ music can be tricky, but except for some minor mishaps, they performed wonderfully. One of the highlights for me was the part in The Patriot, in which three piccolos had to play in sync and in tune, which is an almost impossible feat. I also loved the march from 1941, and the French horns played their part in Jurassic Park wonderfully. One difference in this John Williams concert was the choice of encores. “Imperial March” has been played as an encore many times, but hearing Jaws was quite refreshing.
In addition to the excellent music, one of the other reasons for me to enjoy this concert was the host: Harry Piekema was able to entertain wonderfully. I have often experienced him at concerts; he can always charm the audience with information and silly jokes. I was apparently not the only one having a good evening. It looked like the rest of the audience in the sold-out venue had a fantastic time as well, together with around 1,000 people enjoying the concert outside, watching it on a big screen.
Where: Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
When: July 24, 2022
Orchestra: Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie conducted by Garry Walker
Host: Harry Piekema
- “Main Title” from Star Wars
- “Flying Theme” from E.T.
- The March from 1941
- Suite from Far and Away
- Theme from Angela’s Ashes
- “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- March from Superman
- “The Flight to Neverland” from Hook
- Theme from The Patriot
- “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha
- Theme from Jurassic Park
- “Raiders March” from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
- “Imperial March” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (encore)
- Theme from Jaws (encore)
Heroes in film music
The other film music concert of these Vriendenloterij summer concerts was one dedicated to heroes and superheroes. The term “heroes” was applied broadly. We could hear an abundance of superhero tracks, representing many superheroes, including The Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Spiderman and Superman, but also music from the movies Forrest Gump, Star Wars and Back to the Future was performed.
What I loved about the concert was the diverse program. There were some fan favorites, like the Imperial March and the march from Superman, but also lesser-known pieces, including “Love Theme” from Superman, the main theme from Captain Marvel and “The Real Hero” from Avengers: Endgame. One piece, however, “Main Theme” from Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., was confusing. It did not sound like the theme from the David Hasselhoff movie from 1998 that no one knows, but I did recognize music from The Avengers by Alan Silvestri and Bear McCreary’s theme from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The orchestra for that evening was the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, conducted by Gábor Hontvári, but he didn’t conduct all the music. The last piece before the intermission was the theme from the Dutch television show Floris, conducted by Lucas Hamming. Hamming is a musician who won a Dutch T.V. contest called Maestro, about who can learn how to conduct the best. I have to say; his conducting skills were quite exciting to see.
The music from this concert was enjoyable for me. It was a good blend of well-known favorites and music that I have not heard that often or even never before. But that being said, it is also the first film music concert I have attended that didn’t feature an encore. That sounds silly, because encores are almost mandatory and rehearsed by orchestras just as regular pieces are. Still, seeing a conductor leaving the stage at 10 PM after receiving thanks for himself and the orchestra and not returning on stage feels wrong. Especially not giving a proper thank you to guest conductor Hamming felt unappreciative. It was a bit of a letdown after a beautiful evening of well-performed film music.
Where: Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
When: August 12, 2022
Orchestra: Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie conducted by Gábor Hontvári and Lucas Hamming
Host: Eric Corton
- Erich Wolfgang Korngold – The Sea Hawk
- Main Title
- Alan Silvestri – Suite from Back to the Future
- Alan Silvestri – “Captain America March” from Captain America: The First Avenger
- Alan Silvestri – “The Real Hero” from Avengers: Endgame
- Danny Elfman – “Main Theme” from Spider-Man
- Pinar Toprak – “Captain Marvel” from Captain Marvel
- Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard – Concert suite from Batman: The Dark Knight
- Jan Stoeckart – Theme from Floris
- Richard Wagner – “Ride of the Valkyries”
- Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones
- Main Theme
- A Lannister Always Pays His Debts
- John Williams – Superman
- Love Theme
- Alan Silvestri – Suite from Forrest Gump
- Alan Silvestri – “Main Theme” from Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- John Williams – Star Wars
- Princess Leia’s Theme
- Imperial March
I am curious each year to see what is programmed in Het Concertgebouw during the summer. The venue itself is stunning; not only does it look old and impressive from the inside, but the sound quality is also one of the best in The Netherlands. There is no need for artificial sound enhancements, making the music sound pure. Since Vriendenloterij sponsors the concerts, you can get a ticket for half price if you have a lottery subscription, resulting in more people being able to come. What I also loved about this edition was the big screen outside for three concerts. It made it possible for even more people to enjoy the concerts for free, including the John Williams event. This year’s edition of the Vriendenloterij summer concerts was done very well. One improvement that I would like to see is more involvement from the Dutch orchestras. We have many excellent orchestras, and I would love to see them perform film music concerts more often in The Netherlands. These summer concerts showed that there is an audience for them.