ShareThis Page
Music

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra celebrates music of past Star Wars films

| Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra artistic director Daniel Meyer
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra artistic director Daniel Meyer

As “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” bursts onto the pop-culture scene, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will revisit some of composer John Williams' ultra-popular music from the first six episodes of the story in a single concert on the night before the new film's official release date.

Williams told Vanity Fair magazine the music for the new film is “all a continuation of an initial set of ideas. It's a bit like adding paragraphs to a letter that's been going on for a number of years.”

That letter began in 1977, when the first “Star Wars” film hit movie theaters.

Daniel Meyer will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony in Williams' music Dec. 17 at Heinz Hall, Downtown.

The symphony is well versed in “Star Wars” music, having played excerpts at many concerts, including under Williams himself.

Trombonist James Nova is one of the orchestra members who's very much into the music. He's arranged many sections for trombone ensemble, at first over-dubbing all the parts. He'll conduct a 14-piece trombone ensemble in his arrangements in a pre-concert performance at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Heinz Hall.

Meyer is a familiar presence at Heinz Hall; he was resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony from 2003-09. Now he's artistic director of the Westmoreland Symphony and music director of the Erie Philharmonic and Asheville Symphony.

He says conducting this “Star Wars” concert of music from the first six films is, in some ways, like a fantasy, because he grew up seeing them in the theater.

“I never imagined I would be conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony in what has such emotional ties for me,” he says.

“I was fascinated by ‘Star Wars.' I loved ‘Star Wars.' I was the kid who took his parents' 8-millimeter camera and made stop-action films with my Star Wars figures. I begged my dad for a Snow Speeder for Christmas.

“Now, with DVDs, a young generation may know these films better than I do,” Meyer says.

The program was arranged for “a nice ebb and flow to the progression of the music, but it doesn't follow a straight chronological or movie order,” Meyer says.

“We're starting with the 20th Century Fox overture and then right into the main-title music, but what was important to me was that we didn't front-load all of the very powerful brass movements. The good news is that there is plenty of good music we can interpolate so the brass players won't have to play full-out fortissimo for 90 minutes.”

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me