Heroes and Aliens

WillBSOsmallIt’s always a pleasure to sit before the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, particularly when they’re under the baton of conductor Pete Harrison.  Pete is a self-confessed film music nut, so you can always guarantee that their annual romp through the big screen classics is going to be well thought through and entertaining.

This year’s selection was titles ‘Heroes & Aliens’, so it was largely a science fiction showcase and while the obvious choices were in check, the evening managed to be both a little surprising and a bit moving.

Just hearing the reaction to Star Wars was enough to make the hairs stand on end.  Amazing how a perennial classic can still incite such excitement in an audience, though let’s not forget it would have been the first time many of them had heard it performed live – there were many many kids in attendance.  From the obvious by John Williams to the not-so-obvious, for next came a delightful suite from his small screen scores for TV’s Lost in Space.  While I’m familiar, of course, with the series title themes, I was fascinated to hear some of the underscore (I hold my hand up and admit it’s not an area of Williams work that I have yet had time to embrace… I may amend that now).

As the opening bars of the trumpet solo from Apollo 13 began, I was struck by the fact that it was the first live music by James Horner that I had heard since we lost him last year.  That plaintive brass refrain, followed by strings , suddenly took on a whole new level of emotional resonance and I found myself incredibly moved.  It was a small shame that the composer’s passing wasn’t noted, but the performance more than made up for it.  Later, in the second half, Horner loomed large with ‘War’ from Avatar reminding us just how vital a composer he was (though most of the audience probably didn’t even know he’d gone).

Pete Harrison is a big John Williams fan, so of course the composer was noted throughout the evening. ‘Across the Stars’ (from Star Wars, Episode II) and ‘The Intersection Scene’ from War of the Worlds made impressive moments, not to mention ‘Adventure On Earth’ (E.T.) and the brilliant ‘Excerpts’ suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Jerry Goldsmith got a look-in, which was wonderful; his spine-tingling ‘End Title’ from Alien and finale music from Star Trek: Nemesis leaving me thirsty for more Goldsmith in concert, as ever.  Star Trek featured earlier in the programme too, with a selection of cues from Giacchino’s first two scores.  The cue from Star Trek Into Darkness (‘London Calling’) was beautifully done, and ‘Enterprising Young Men’ was as breathless and buoyant as ever.

The main theme from Armageddon and the theme from Doctor Who completed the set; the latter made all the more notable with the discovery that Harrison’s father performed the bass-line in the original recording by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Bravo BSO and thanks to Pete Harrison for his unending enthusiasm for film music.