On the 16th of October 2015, my mum and I went to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to hear music from all six Star Wars films being played by a live orchestra. Atmosphere crackling like a lightsaber, we were greeted by a Stormtrooper, Tusken Raider, and more fans dressed up as Princess Leia than you could shake a gaffi stick at. Photo opportunities came later, but first we had to take our seats. Our musical journey across the galaxy was about to begin.
I’ve never been one to follow the so-called ‘rules’ of watching a classical concert, and was bouncing up and down in my seat to the space-age jazz sounds of the Cantina Band before you could say ‘Mos Eisley’. Why bother going to hear live music if your only reaction is stale silence? With ‘Duel of the Fates’ especially, so much of John Williams’ Star Wars music is rhythmically powerful, with each note conjuring up the image of good old-fashioned adventure so associated with these films. In other words: the music is powerful enough to move you physically as well as emotionally, making it some of the best ever to have come out of Hollywood.
This is a fan’s opinion, but I fail to see how the music of Star Wars would ever sound better than it did that night – maybe if John Williams himself had been conducting… We did receive a letter from John to be fair, and his congratulatory message to audience and musician alike was printed in the programme, so the maestro was at least there in spirit. Conductor Michael Seal did a great job though, and voice actor Marc Silk (also known as the voice of Johnny Bravo) was the perfect host as he chatted to the audience about each piece. The Star Wars films have always held a special place in Silk’s heart as well, not least because he voiced the alien Aks Moe in The Phantom Menace (one of the senators – look him up!).
After the rippling strings of Williams’ love theme ‘Across the Stars’ and the brutal majesty of Revenge of the Sith’s epic fight theme ‘Battle of the Heroes’, the orchestra tore into classics from the original trilogy. They blasted through ‘The Imperial March’, ‘Yoda’s Theme’, and even ended with a flurry of Ewoks as they played music from Return of the Jedi’s Battle of Endor scenes.
Before long however, it was the encore, after which the music disappeared in a haze of blaster fire. But the concert had been incredible, and the Birmingham musicians some of the best in the world! Appetities whetted, we now wait with baited breath for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens…