Picture it–1977, Miami, Florida! The Rase twins, Debbi and Sherri, sit in a darkened air conditioned movie theater watching what will soon become an iconic role, up in 70mm, on a wide screen. Our 13 year old lives would be changed, forever, but we hadn’t known that when we bought the tickets. Well and truly, the world would never ever be the same.
Thanksgiving weekend 2018, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), under the baton of the masterful Constantine Kitsopoulos, gave many of us a thrilling experience, and for several in the audience, for the first time–“Star Wars–A New Hope,” with live orchestration! It is amazing to be surrounded by the energy of an all-ages audience and there was a celebratory feel all around–movie snacks were available and we knew there would be a chance to stretch our legs. While the movie was delightful to see, with all of our favorites looking so impossibly young, John Williams’ music is the real star!
The moment we walked blinking into the daylight, I started working on my sister. I knew I had to have more of the album, and the next time we rode our bike to the Peaches record store, I had convinced her to pool our allowance to buy the album of the soundtrack. It was ten dollars, after all, and required a pooling of our allowance! I made the case that it was a double album and Deb agreed. I played the grooves off that record and devoured the liner notes, little knowing it would one day lead to this experience. However familiar you are with the iconic score, when you attend a live-play film, you will hear brand new aspects, and it will be something your mind will enjoy over and over again.
In the very beginning of the film, how could I have missed the Morse code-like SOS pattern in the score, as we see the underbelly of the Imperial cruiser chasing down Princess Leia’s starship? The film used cinematography we knew–shooting the underside of the cruiser is like watching Jacques Cousteau’s camera shooting the underbelly of a shark as it cruises menacingly overhead. And time and again, we are hooked.
How could I have missed the youthful petulance in Luke’s voice as he railed against his guardians, Owen and Beru? Perhaps because I had that same note in my voice, then. Even as a nascent adolescent, I loved the frictive sparks between one of the strongest female characters I’d ever seen and the roguish hero I wanted to be. “Star Wars” provided a different view of what the world actually was, and what it could be, and hearing the strains of the harp, the violins, the Princess’ Theme in the all-too-human voice of the cellos and to feel the thrumming percussion heading into the battle scenes–feel it as well as hear it–that is the first gift of this magnificent season of giving.
Join me at the 2019 Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” featuring Emanuel Ax, Dawn Upshaw, and Daniil Trifonov, starting on January 10–get your tickets now for the very best seats at www.njsymphony.org