Jack Everly and the BSO, accompanied
by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, with Director Tom Hall, paid homage to film composers of past and present last night
before an appreciative audience at Strathmore Music Center (repeats 10/9-11 at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore). In an ambitious
program that covered 18 scores from a dozen composers, Mr. Everly gave these unsung heroes of the cinema their due.
Mixing music with commentary from the podium, the maestro provided a droll and engaging introduction to each piece,
with something about the movie, composer, technical accomplishments of the medium, and from time to time, even threw in a
bit of movie trivia.
Some of the big guns were trotted out: Lawrence of Arabia (Maurice Jarre), Star
Wars (John Williams), Gone With The Wind (Max Steiner), Ben-Hur (Miklós Rózsa), and Titanic
(James Horner); but also some forgotten gems: Blue Max (Jerry Goldsmith), Paradise Road (Ross Edwards),
and Around the World in 80 Days (Victor Young).
Music is often the overlooked component of film. Created
to heighten emotion and move the story along, these works stand alone in their own right as musical accomplishments. However,
we're so busy making sense of what's going on in front of our eyes, and processing it, that we tend to miss the sound,
especially if it's underscored. We all know John Williams but how about Messrs. Steiner, Newman (not with an E),
Goldsmith, and Rózsa, and yet these are among the greatest movie composers in history.
epic nature of the programming, every square foot of stage and beyond was crammed with musicians, instruments, and singers.
Mr. Everly put them through their paces; and BSO showed their stuff. The orchestra, conductor, and chorus were
pretty much on the same page. These lush strings were reminiscent of Eugene Ormandy's Philadelphia Orchestra Sound.
Crisply played throughout, the grandeur and range of the pieces were tellingly accentuated by the horns and percussion
instruments, the latter placed stage right. Choristers gave inspirational texture to the performance - at times spiritual,
at times uplifting. This was especially true in the rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" from King
of Kings (Miklós Rózsa), the "Largo" from Dvorak's New World Symphony from Paradise
Road, and with apologies to Celine Dion, most effective in Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On."
The first half concluded with music from How The West Was Won (Alfred Newman), while the finale for the second
part, from Star Wars, brought many in the crowd to their feet, and drew an encore, "Auld Lang Syne, from Paradise Road," a toast for the times and for better days ahead.
wise, I thought the program might have been arranged around blocks of music, either by composer or theme, with several works
played in succession. As it stands, the flow is broken somewhat; with so many stops in the action, the audience has to pull
back, just when the going gets good. I also felt that the orchestra drowned out the chorus to a noticeable degree in
the closing two pieces.
Mr. Everly has certainly given me some thoughts for my DVD rental queue, if not for my next
trip to the library. With my head buried in the theater, I'd forgotten how good orchestral music sounds with its wonderful
dynamic range, when heard at a live event. I'm looking forward to a future recording of what I heard last night;
it will provide some pleasant memories and give me an opportunity to upgrade my sound system!
Sound check: Surprisingly
moderate sound levels with so many musicians and instruments in this unamplified musical performance
Highly recommended, 3 ½ hands; satisfying musically, as entertainment and education
Program notes: Good,
might have benefited from performance list and director or musicologist notes
Runtime: About 2 hours, with and intermission
Photo credits: Peter Throm
Copyright by John F. Glass October 9, 2009
All rights reserved
Below is the
program I jotted down last night (any mistakes are my own)
"Horray for Hollywood" (Richard
Whiting, Lyrics Johnny Mercer)
Gone With The Wind (Max Steiner)
Ben-Hur (Miklós Rózsa)
King of Kings (Miklós Rózsa)
Exodus (Ernest Gold)
Blue Max (Jerry Goldsmith)
Empire of the Sun (John Williams)
West Was Won (Alfred Newman)
Around the World
in 80 Days (Victor Young)
Lawrence of Arabia (Maurice Jarre)
Lord of the Rings (Howard
Saving Private Ryan (John Williams)
Paradise Road (Ross Edwards) - arranged
Largo from Dvorak's New World Symphony
Star Trek (Michael Giacchino)
Star Wars (John Williams) - Finale
"Auld Lang Syne" from Paradise Road (Ross
Edwards) - Encore
(Second Half also includes Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare by Alfred Newman)