October 30, 2014

Movie music shines at the RPO this Halloween weekend

Happy (almost) Halloween, RPO fans! To kickoff Halloween night, the RPO will present a screening of the 1925 Phantom of the Opera silent film, starring Lon Chaney. This concert will reprise on Saturday night. On Sunday, our music and film series continues with a matinee performance of excerpts from classic sci-fi and fantasy scores, such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestial and Metropolis. To gear up for a fun weekend at the RPO, we polled musicians and staff on their favorite movie music moments.

Bonus Trivia: Did you know the RPO got its start 92 years ago as a movie house orchestra, accompanying silent films?

Stephen Laifer, musician
4th horn

Stephen Laifer

When I think of great music in film, the first movies that come to mind are: The Star Wars series

What makes this music great? The Star Wars plots are Wagnerian in scope, just like a space opera should be, and John Williams follows that idea perfectly with his music: each character has their own readily identifiable theme, much like Wagner used the idea of leitmotifs, or specific musical themes, for each of his important operatic characters and situations in the four Ring of the Nibelung operas.

What piece are you most looking forward to playing this weekend?
E.T., the Extraterrestrial. Several years ago, I was fortunate to get the chance to interview John Williams for the cover story of the International Musician, the musicians union monthly journal. Williams related to me a story about the last fifteen minutes of the film. The music for the final scene, starting from the bicycle chase, was recorded in the studio in a single take. When Director Steven Spielberg listened to that take, he was so impressed with its energy and operatic feel that he decided to re-edit the film to fit the music, rather than the other way around. Williams said with great pride that this was one of the few times in cinematic history where music took precedence over the images, and he will always remember it as one of the greatest honors of his long and distinguished career.

Barbara Brown, staff
Director of Education

Barbara Brown

When I think of great music in film, the first movie that comes to mind is:
Apollo 13 – one of my favorite movies when I was a kid.

What makes this music great?
I love the first track – Main Title. The opening snare drum sounds strong and urgent. Then it’s immediately juxtaposed with a solo trumpet melody, which is both patriotic and melancholy at the same time. The feel of the entire movie is captured in the first 30 seconds of music. I always feel chills whenever I hear it.

Stephen House, staff
Grants Manager

Stephen House

When I think of great music in film, the first movies that come to mind are: Gladiator and Hook

What makes this music great?
For both of these films, the music perfectly enhances every scene. The range of emotions portrayed by the actors is echoed by the accompanied music. The subtle things that the composers do to help with character development make the audiences recall previous parts of the movie, even if a character is not in the scene. I don’t think either of the films would have had the success they did without their scores.

What are you most looking forward to hearing at this weekend's RPO concerts?
I’m looking forward to the selections from The Adventures of Robin Hood by Erich Korngold at the Sunday matinee concert. I arranged this suite for a marching band a few years ago and haven’t heard it since.

What's your favorite musical score? Shout out in the comments below!

For tickets and more information on this weekend's concerts, visit rpo.org

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