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Music & Movies: Perfect Together

Music & Movies: Perfect Together

Photo credit: T. Kevin Birch

Photo credit: T. Kevin Birch

Long before the first words were ever spoken on film, music helped show action, suspense, and levity during the silent film era. As films evolved, music became even more ingrained in cinema, cementing scenes in our memory via musical accompaniment. On Saturday, February 7, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will pay tribute to some of the most memorable movie scores in history with “A Silver Screen Salute” — a night spotlighting the award-winning works by John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones), as well as classics like Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Cinema Paradiso and more.

Hosted by NPR film critic Bob Mondello, the night will be conducted by PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov and features a guest appearance by the American Boychoir.

Movies have integrated music so well that chances are when you hear the music from your favorite films you can close your eyes and imagine the scenes taking place. Now imagine hearing that music coming from the most impressive stereo speakers on the market. That’s the type of experience you’ll get when PSO performs these works live. Movie fans will enjoy the music as well as the commentary and insights provided by Mondello throughout the night.

Mondello, who has reviewed movies and covered the arts for NPR News for more than three decades, will offer insights to the role music plays in the movies that were selected.

Bob Mondello

Bob Mondello

“I’ve always been fascinated by music’s ability to pump up emotion,” said Mondello. “One example is Henry V. There was a production of Henry V done by Lawrence Olivier many years ago and when he got to the ‘we few, we happy few, we band of brothers’ speech he read it like an actual speech without music behind it. When Kenneth Branagh did it in the 1990s, he read it virtually the same way — the interpretation of the lines is almost exactly the same — but he put music behind it, and the music just makes that speech soar! I think Olivier was very proud of his ability to make music with words, but Branagh understood that film works differently now than it did in the 1940s. At the end of the speech you’d follow him anywhere and it’s largely because of the music that powers it.”

“A Silver Screen Salute” spotlights the works of John Williams, who composed scores for many of the most popular films of all time including Star Wars, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones. The American Boychoir will lend a hand for “Dry Your Tears, Afrika” from Amistad, “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan, and “Cadillac of the Skies” and “Exsultate Justi” from Empire of the Sun.

Films of other eras will be represented as well, such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Laura, The Magnificent Seven, Sunset Boulevard and Vertigo. Two of Mondello’s personal favorites —Lawrence of Arabia and Cinema Paradiso — will also be performed.

“I’m partial to the ones I grew up with in my youth,” explained Mondello. “I see the sand when I start hearing the Lawrence of Arabia score and the Cinema Paradiso is just achingly beautiful. It’s such a ravishing, romantic score. It’s sort of a primal thing that music goes with images; it has always been integrated into the art form and they’ve gotten very good at it.”

PHOTO 4 Princeton Symphony Orchestra Side Shot 2014 CREDIT T. Kevin Birch

PHOTO 4 Princeton Symphony Orchestra Side Shot 2014 CREDIT T. Kevin Birch

Milanov says he is a fan of movies as well, but admits that his schedule is so busy these days that the only movies he sees are on airplane screens. He enjoys movie soundtracks that showcase classical pieces in a new light and can help popularize the works PSO does throughout their season.

This concert moves the PSO’s annual mid-winter pops concert from Broadway to Hollywood. After a decade of performing the music of Broadway, the orchestra felt it was time for a change.

Milanov said the scores were selected jointly with the help of PSO’s Artistic Administrator Marc Uys. “The idea was to select music that was meaningful, memorable and had suitable arrangements for presenting as part of a concert. The presence of the American Boychoir and their recent recording of a movie soundtrack helped us to create an additional dimension on the selected repertoire.”“We’ve taken our pops program from ‘stage to screen,’” says PSO Executive Director Melanie Clarke. “After 10 years of a successful PSO Broadway POPS! run, we were drawn to the lush orchestral soundtracks of motion pictures’ most memorable scores.”

Credit: Jane and Pam Grecsek

Credit: Jane and Pam Grecsek

A frequent collaborator in movie productions, The American Boychoir recently starred along with Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates in the feature film Boychoir, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Previously, the choir sang in Empire of the Sun, Interview with the Vampire and Wide Awake.

“A Silver Screen Salute” is a wonderful opportunity for film fans to relive their favorite movies in a new way.  The concert takes place on Saturday, February 7 at 8 PM in the Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. The facility is wheelchair accessible and assisted listening devices and large-print programs are available. Tickets range from $25-$75 and Jersey Arts members can get a $10/ticket discount when using the code DISJA10 at check out at www.princetonsymphony.org.

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