I have been hearing about Het Nederlands Filmorkest (The Dutch Film Orchestra) for quite some time now. It is an orchestra dedicated to film music, but they also like to play other pieces that are easy to experience. For many years the orchestra mainly consisted of string players with some additional instruments, but last year they finally grew into a full-sized symphony orchestra. When they announced their latest concert, Through Composers’ Eyes, I knew it was time to experience their music. They performed this concert twice: The first was in the Pathé Cinema in Ede on Saturday, and the second one, on Sunday afternoon, was also in a Pathé movie theater, but this time in one of the most stunning venues in the Netherlands: the Royal Theater Tuschinski, a century-old theater that was converted to a cinema while the old interior was kept mostly intact.
The program of this concert was exciting. Most of the time, when I go to a film music-themed show, I get to hear a collection of the best film music has to offer from a wide range of composers, but for this concert, the focus was on only two of them: Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. The orchestra performed wonderful pieces from Elfman’s repertoire in the concert’s first half. Most of these cues came from the Tim Burton movies, with the music from Corpse Bride being my favorite, which included the amazing “The Piano Duet,” brilliantly performed by the pianist and one of the viola players who joined her behind the piano.
The focus of the music in the second half would be on Hans Zimmer’s music. Instead of just dedicating each half of the show to a composer, just before the intermission the orchestra performed an excellent piece by linking Elfman’s Batman Returns with Zimmer’s The Dark Knight Rises into one single cue.
After a terrific first half, it was time to enjoy Zimmer’s music. Fortunately for me, they focused more on his orchestral and melodic work from around 2000, including many of my favorites like The Last Samurai and King Arthur. The orchestra, together with a small choir, also performed a beautiful version of The Prince of Egypt, a piece I do not hear often. The orchestra also brilliantly performed a rendition of Inception with bass guitar and electric guitar. I have listened to many versions of this piece, and many times the electric guitar has been off and did not blend well with the orchestra, but for this performance, that was certainly not the case.
In addition to a solid performance and well-thought-out program, there was another strong point to the show: having composer and friend of the site Matthijs Kieboom do the presentation. With his inside knowledge of film music he added insightful introductions to the pieces. As a reward for his effort, the orchestra played music from his movie Pirates Down the Street, which fluently transitioned into Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean while the concert’s end credits were showing on the screen, naming all the musicians and other people who have made the show possible.
This concert was a perfect example of what can be achieved with passion for film music. The choice of music was very well thought out. Even though Elfman and Zimmer are two completely different composers, the selection of their work for the concert fitted very well together. I liked the venue as well. The Tuschinski Theatre is a gorgeous location, and the sound came out very well. I was a bit late to the party, though, and I had to sit all the way up on the balcony, because all the seats with a better view were sold out. Even though I was sitting high up, I still had a good view of the screen and was able to see all the fantastic images that were shown to accompany the music, but it was not possible to see the entire orchestra from above. Apparently, there are some disadvantages to finally being a full-grown orchestra.
Another aspect of the concert that I loved was the variety and skill of the musicians. Not only was the performance outstanding, but several musicians could also pick up a different instrument if the cue required it. The viola player stepping behind the piano to help was only one example. I saw a saxophone being played by a flute and an oboe player. One of the violinists was the bass guitar player, and a double bass player picked up the euphonium – a small tuba. I have attended many film music concerts in the Netherlands, often performed by well-established orchestras, yet Het Nederlands Filmorkest, together with the small choir, consisting of a group of dedicated volunteers, out-classed most of them. I am looking forward to seeing them in action again.
Where: Royal Theater Tuschinski – Amsterdam, the Netherlands
When: February 5, 2023
Orchestra: Het Nederlands Filmorkest conducted by Sander Vredenborg
Choir: Ensembled for this concert by a group of volunteers
Host: Matthijs Kieboom
- Danny Elfman
- Alice in Wonderland
- Edward Scissorhands
- Corpse Bride
- Nightmare Before Christmas
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer
- Batman Returns & The Dark Knight Rises
- Hans Zimmer
- King Arthur
- The Last Samurai
- The Prince of Egypt
- Gladiator (with Lisa Gerrard)
- Pearl Harbour
- Matthijs Kieboom and Hans Zimmer (encore)
- Pirates Down the Street & Pirates of the Caribbean