Review: The Music of Star Wars Episodes I – VII, The Hallé, Manchester
I have a confession. I flippin’ love film music.
I don’t mean pre-existing songs that are played over the action (though Guardians of the Galaxy’s Awesome Mix is brilliant). I’m taking about the music that is written specifically for a film, capturing its essence and musically expressing the emotions and tone of each scene.
It’s music that, on hearing just the first few bars, ushers in waves of nostalgia, brings tears to your eyes, and is woven into the very fabric of the film. Without it, the movie wouldn’t be the same.
So, oh boy, was I in for a treat when I decided to attend Manchester Bridgewater Hall’s one-off concert focusing on the music of Star Wars, featuring handpicked tracks from Episodes I right through to VII.
Unlike Northern Soul‘s seasoned classical music reviewer Alfred Searls, this was my first time seeing the Hallé Orchestra perform. Led by conductor Stephen Bell, who seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, the Hallé smoothly transitioned through each piece, doing great justice to John Williams’ score. There were several moments, especially during Princess Leia’s Theme, that gave me exceptionally tingly skin – testament to the endorphin-inducing performance by the orchestra.
A couple of times though, some of the instruments were drowned out, not least during the lively Cantina Band rendition, but overall the sound quality was top notch. This reviewer must admit that she had a tear in her eye during the opening theme.
The Hallé Youth Choir also performed both admirably and hauntingly, made doubly impressive by the fact that the words of one of their songs, Duel of the Fates, was a Welsh poem translated into Sanskrit.
Presenter and former Hallé horn player Tom Redmond provided many interesting titbits throughout the evening, including some musical and science facts courtesy of the Manchester Science Festival. Unfortunately, the Force is apparently only present in parasites and female insects so there’s no chance of ever becoming a Jedi. More intriguingly, he revealed that the first few bars of Rey’s Theme played backwards is Darth Vader’s Imperial March. Is this a hint towards her true identity?
There was also a great moment when a patrol of Stormtroopers and an Imperial Officer invaded the concert hall and tried to arrest Bell, before being told by Redmond, touting a Jedi robe that: “This is not the conductor you’re looking for.”
The Stormtroopers, who were absolutely not being mind-controlled at all, decided it was probably best to retreat back to the bar.
The force is strong with the Hallé.
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